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8 Simple Steps to Lead Our Life on Purpose

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8 Simple Steps to Lead Our Life on Purpose

Are we living an authentic life?  Are we excited each day to engage and lose ourselves on the path of life that we are travelling?  Are we committed to mastering the path that we are on?

Many people struggle with finding a life purpose that is authentic, personally meaningful and a source of intrinsic value.  If you struggle with this, then this article is for you.  I’ll set out 8 simple steps that will help us lead our life with purpose.

1. Determine What We Uniquely Value, Who We Really Are

Is the path that we are on authentic?  Did we pursue a career because our parents wanted us to pursue it?  Does our heart yearn for something else?  We cannot live our life on purpose unless we determine what that purpose is. The first step in determining this is to determine what we uniquely value.  What is it that makes us come alive? When is it that we are most fulfilled?

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I found great clarity in my life when I literally wrote down my unique values, and I made sure that I didn’t get caught by the trap of only valuing what everyone else values: economic security and social acceptance.  These are important values, but by fixating on them, we often make decisions (particularly relating to careers) that don’t lead to an authentic purpose.

What else do we value? For me I valued freedom, and contribution, and challenge, and variety. That led me to leave a financially secure career (law) for one that many would consider risky (entrepreneurialism and writing). But once I did I was much happier because my actions were in line with what I uniquely valued as an individual.

2. Think Action, Not Rewards

It is really, really easy to get discouraged when we fixate on the rewards of our actions as the sole motivating force in our life. Here’s why: rewards can sometimes be elusive, despite our best actions. Also, rewards can seem unfair. We see in the media all the time examples of people who become rich and famous. and we wonder why? We wonder what they did to deserve it, and why we don’t get it?

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This line of thought is a recipe for discouragement, and it is a sure-fire way to cause us to pull away from our unique purpose. If we don’t see the rewards quickly, it is easy to quit. A better way is to adopt a habit of focusing on our actions, not the rewards of our actions. When we live each day, excited to give our very best in what we can control (our actions and our attitude) we are able to live a life on purpose.

3. If It Scares You, Do It

If it very unlikely (I would argue impossible) to live a life completely on purpose without ever confronting fear. It is often our deepest desires that scare us the most. They scare us because we want them, and we know that we should be pursuing them; we just don’t know how, and we are scared to fail. I have found that by doing what scares me, when it comes to what I believe is my purpose, I grow in complexity. I am happier, and I have a greater sense of personal fulfilment. If it scares me, it is likely that I should do it.

4. Commit To Mastery

Mastery is long term. Mastery is hard. Mastery take hours and hours of mundane repetition and practice. If we don’t truly believe that an activity is part of our unique life purpose, then we won’t put in the time to become a master. Also, if we don’t intrinsically enjoy our pursuit (independent of any rewards), it is likely that we won’t put in the practice to develop our talents and skills in a way that represents mastery. Commit to mastery in the things that are uniquely you. Take the long view. If you do, you will live life on purpose because you won’t become deterred by short term distractions. You will also have much more of an impact on others.

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5. Seek Guidance From Mentors

There are always people out there who are willing to help us, and many of them have tread the exact path that we are currently on. Many of them have felt the same anxieties and fears that we feel. All we have to do is reach out to them. Find a way to add value to the mentor you are reaching out to. They will be glad to reciprocate your value by teaching you important things that will help you on your unique path. Sometimes mentoring comes in the form of books, articles, or speeches. Find whatever you can that helps you on your path.  Don’t go at it alone.

6. Create Value For Others

A fulfilling life purpose is one that includes the creation of value for other people. Creating value for other people is also something that allows us to get paid for doing what we love.  In whatever it is the we value, that we want to make our life’s work, we will be most likely to sustain this action, and make money doing it if it creates value for others. Creating value often arises by an attempt to solve a problem, or provide an insight to another. Outward directed work, that helps others, also helps us because we are rewarded for the efforts of our creation.

7. Make Plans And Take Action

Be deliberate. Be intentional. Once we have determined what it is that we uniquely value, we make it real by making a specific plan of action to take our idea, or wish, and create its tangible counterpart.  Once we have a plan of action, simply take action, build our action into a habit, and continue. Make it our life’s work.

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8. Be Thankful And Appreciate The Moment

Ungrateful people are difficult to be around.  Don’t be one of them.  Don’t be one of those people who is always complaining, and is always looking for what is wrong in the world.  This is why focusing on actions, not rewards is so important.  If we focus only on rewards, and those rewards don’t come, it is easy to “vent.”  When we are venting, what we are really doing is just complaining (the word vent makes it seem okay for us). Resist the urge to vent, but rather just be thankful for the fact that we have a chance to do something that is authentic to us.  Embrace the moment of where we are.  This will go a long way to helping us live life on purpose, and it will also go a long way to ensuring our long term happiness.

More by this author

Ryan Clements

A lawyer turned marketing professional, entrepreneur and writer who writes about entrepreneurship, career and personal development.

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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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