“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
– Steve Jobs
We all want to find our destiny; but how do we know when we have strayed from the true path we are meant to be on? Each of us is born with our own talents and gifts and strengths—unique energies that need an outlet. What is right for one person will not be right for others. So how do we know if we have lost our way?
Well, there are some tell-tale signs. Here’s 8 of them.
1. You’re a -holic.
Are you drinking too much, eating too much, perhaps even training too hard or working too hard? When our lives are out of balance, they veer towards our greatest weakness. If you’re doing anything in excess, then you know you’re off track.Advertising
Being a workaholic is a great excuse for most of us; we can tell ourselves we’re getting somewhere but we’re actually keeping ourselves too busy to notice the real issues. It’s a sure sign that we’ve buried ourselves in things that seem important to hide from the things that really are.
2. Everything is going wrong.
It’s a strange thing about life, but when you’re heading in the right direction, you always get the inside track. Everything flows. Life seems so easy.
But step off the path and even the little things will go wrong; you drop your cellphone in the ornamental fountain; stoplights always turn red; you get parking tickets.
Is it just one thing after another? Maybe life is not out to get you.
Perhaps life is trying to warn you.Advertising
3. You are always getting sick.
Our body is an extension of our thoughts, especially our subconscious ones. If you’re getting sick all the time, your innermost self is trying to tell you that you have lost your way. This is one of the last signs, so try to catch your thoughts and feelings before they get to your physical cells.
4. Your house is too tidy.
Or maybe just too cluttered. Either way there is no balance; it looks compulsively neat or like the morning after an orgy at a frat house. Extremes are an extremely bad sign. Take a look around. What is your apartment saying to you?
Because you might not like the answers you come up with. Are you in the right job? Should you leave your current relationship, because it’s not really that fulfilling? If you habitually avoid such questions because they make you feel uncomfortable then you are likely way off track. Most often we are afraid of the answers, because they could lead us to tough choices we don’t want to make. Why? That’s the sixth sign.
6. You are afraid of being afraid.
You’re afraid to end your current relationship because you think there might not be anything better—even though this one is pretty ordinary; you won’t leave your dead end job to chase down your dream because you’re afraid of failing. It takes real courage to change.
We are all afraid of change, of uncertainty. What if our inner voice asks us to turn our whole life upside down? We don’t want to listen. We make ourselves as busy as possible, so we never have time on our own when we may have to listen to what our spirit is telling us.Advertising
7. You feel comfortable.
Comfort zones are not always pleasant places to be; they are just familiar. Your comfort zone may be a job that pays the bills to keep you in a life that you hate; it may be a relationship that is going nowhere but is too safe to leave; it may be physical place, a hometown that you won’t leave because of family and friends even though your dreams won’t ever happen if you stay.
The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth. If you never feel uncomfortable, that’s not a good sign. Life is a journey, not a destination.
8. You are afraid to let go.
Letting go is the hardest part of moving forward. Barnacles hold on to what is safe and disdain the current; but they never choose where they are going to end up.
The past provides us with excuses for failure, so there is always a powerful incentive to hold on. It can also mean that you may have to forgive someone in order to let go, perhaps even forgiving someone who doesn’t deserve to be forgiven. But do it for you, not for them.
So if you’ve lost the way, how do you find your way back?Advertising
The most important thing is not doing, but listening.
Take time out to listen to yourself. Shut down the clutter. The best guide you have is what is inside you. If you have a gnawing feeling in your gut that you have lost your way, listen to it. It doesn’t matter if what it tells you seems illogical, or if other people will disapprove. This is your life, and you’re the only one who knows if you are living it.
Listen to the inner voice, that nagging feeling in your gut that tells you you’re on the wrong path. And when it speaks to you don’t judge, don’t say that’s impossible, don’t say my family will never let me do that—just be curious about what is there.
As Steve Job says, time is limited. It’s the one thing that doesn’t appreciate over time, the one thing no one is making more of. You don’t have time to wander off into the woods. If you have any of these signs, it’s time to check in with yourself.
And if it means taking a path less traveled by, then do it. It’s perhaps what life has been trying to tell you to do after all.Advertising
Featured photo credit: Highways Agency via Wikipedia
Last Updated on July 20, 2021
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:
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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:
- How to Give a Presentation Like a Pro
- 10 Tips for More Effective PowerPoint Presentations
- Tricks to Deliver an Impressive Presentation Every Time
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