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7 Ways You Can Make Time For Your Passion

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7 Ways You Can Make Time For Your Passion

“Someday, when I’ve got the time…”

Have you ever said that to yourself? Most of us are great at putting off what we really want to do for someday. When life is less busy, when we “have the time”, when we’ve reached a certain level of income or success.

But the truth is, someday always seems to stay in the near future. We can never quite make it … and we never quite get started following our passions and doing what we really want with our lives.

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If you’re truly passionate about something, you need to get started now. It doesn’t mean you have to quit your job and go for it full-time. It doesn’t mean you need to neglect your family and responsibilities, and it doesn’t mean you need to become an expert overnight. But if you’re truly passionate, you need to carve out some regular time to do what you love.

The key in following your passion is consistency. You need to decide that you’re going to take action, and then take a small step forward on a regular basis. Maybe you’ve always wanted to play the piano. You don’t need to buy a grand piano and play 8 hours per day. Why not start by reading a book about playing the piano? Listening to recordings of expert pianists. Ask a friend to show you the basics. Buy a keyboard and play for 15 minutes every morning. It’s these small steps, done regularly, which will add up to huge results.

The most common excuse I hear about not following our dreams, is that we just don’t have the time. Here are 7 tips to help you make the time to follow your passion.

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Start with a schedule reality-check.

If your days feel completely full and you can’t imagine finding any time to follow your passion, it’s time for a schedule reality-check.

For 3 days, carry a little notebook with you (or use the notepad on your phone) and every 30 minutes, just make a note of what you’re doing.

You’ll probably uncover a few gaps of ‘hidden’ time. Have you ever ‘quickly checked’ Facebook and found yourself surfing aimlessly 30 minutes later? What about watching a few minutes of TV that turns into a couple of hours? These are little chunks of time that can be used to work on your passion.

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Learn to say no.

A completely full schedule can make you feel stuck and unable to follow your dreams. But do you really need to do everything in your schedule? We often take on commitments that we don’t really need to do, and we continue to do them out of habit or guilt. Look back over your schedule from the past month. What items are you really excited about doing and love to do? Those can stay. Everything else should be scrutinized. Do you really have to do this task or can it be delegated? Is there someone who would enjoy that responsibility, or who could do it better than you could? Can you hire someone to do it for you? Is there a way you can do it faster, ask for help, or do it less often? Eliminating even one or two unnecessary activities per month can free up time to follow your passion.

Join a class.

If you haven’t made it a priority to follow your passion before, you might find it hard to stick to your new goal. That’s where a class can be so useful. If you sign up for a class in your interest area, you’re more likely to attend on a regular basis because you’ve committed to a series, and there are other people going through it with you. Plus, you’ll meet other people who share your interests, which can encourage you to keep going long-term. And that leads us to…

Find a Buddy.

It’s easier to stick with a new habit or goal when you’re not alone. Finding a friend who is also interested in the same subject (or even one who has decided to make time to follow their own dreams and goals) can help you stick with it. You can meet up once a week to do an activity together, or even just have a phone call or a coffee to talk about how it’s going for you – and help each other stick to your goals of making time for your passion!

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Maximize your between times.

Waiting at the doctor’s office. Standing in line at the grocery store. Waiting to meet a friend for coffee. There are lots of small bits of ‘between time’ in your day that you can put to use taking action on your passion. You might bookmark sites in your interest area to read during these down times, or a carry a related book that you can read, or even keep a notebook with you to do some planning in these between-times.

Ask for help.

This is a tough one for many of us, but you don’t have to do everything alone. If you’re really serious about following your passion, you need to tell you friends and family about it, and ask them to support you. They might volunteer to babysit so you have a couple of hours to study. Maybe your husband or wife could do the grocery shopping (or another chore) so you have time to work on your passion (and you can return the favor for them later). Telling your family and friends will also open up more connections who share your interests. You’ll never know who they could introduce you to!

Go slowly.

Some people make dramatic changes overnight and suddenly leap into pursuing their passions full-time. For most of us, our ideal life following our passions unfolds slowly, over time. And that’s OK. This slow and steady approach gives us time to learn and become experts, and to grow into our passion. If your goal is to become a television presenter, and you were offered your dream job tomorrow, how good of a presenter would you be? It’s better to learn, practice, and develop your confidence and skills in your new area of interest, continually moving into your dream life, rather than leaping into it unprepared. It all comes back to consistency. So while it probably feels like your dream life isn’t happening fast enough, try to appreciate the journey and be open to opportunities as they arise.

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How do you make time in your busy life to pursue your passion? What has worked the best for you?

 

Featured photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/travisrockphotography/6560696273/ via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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