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9 Things You Need To Stop Doing If You Want To Be Successful

9 Things You Need To Stop Doing If You Want To Be Successful

Earl Nightingale, American motivational speaker and author, once said, “We become what we think about.” Perhaps truer words have never been spoken. The human mind is an incredible thing, and having the right attitude and mindset has routinely been stated by numerous successful people as being a pivotal key to success. Sometimes, however, it is easy to get side-tracked. Situations in life can get in the way of our goals, self-esteem, and personal well-being. Truthfully, success is a subjective term, and everyone will disagree over what constitutes being successful. Here are a list of guidelines, however, of some things to stop doing if you want to be or feel successful.

1. Stop Expecting Perfection

Often, we get frustrated when things don’t work out the way we want them to, or as quickly as we’d like them to. We stress over small details, or beat ourselves up for getting one thing wrong, or forgetting to dot one I or cross one T. People are fallible. Mistakes and drawbacks are a fact of life. Nothing is nor will it ever be perfect, and that’s okay.

Stressing out over minute details or things that would have been impossible to get to is unproductive and unhealthy. Start saying that you will do your personal best, because at the end of the day, you’re not in competition with anyone but yourself.

Example: Jennifer Lawrence is someone who everyone seems to be talking about right now, but did you know she was rejected for the role of Bella Swan in ‘Twilight‘? She also didn’t take theater classes. She just trusted her instincts and worked as hard as possible to land acting roles. Obviously, she wasn’t perfect for every role, but she didn’t expect perfection. She takes her failures and rejections well, trying to learn from each situation.

2. Stop Saying Yes When You Want to Say No

It’s always important to know your limits, and people will always try to test them. Human beings are social animals. We want to interact with others and feel like we are a part of something or like we are special to someone else. People also, for the most part, like to please others. Sometimes, however, it’s easy to be taken advantage of. Whether it’s helping a co-worker with something when you can’t really afford to, or loaning a friend money you can’t really afford to give.

Out of guilt, people often say yes to people and situations that they really should say no to. Don’t be afraid to trust your gut and say no. Sometimes you can’t stay a few hours later because you had other plans or important errands to run. Sometimes it’s okay to say no to that co-worker that keeps nagging you for help but is really just stalling because they don’t want to work and know you’ll help them.

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Sometimes it’s okay to prioritize other things over work. Saying no is healthy. Saying no means that you know your boundaries and can demand respect.

Example: Margaret Thatcher is known as being tough. She was a powerful politician. She also knew during her career when she had to take a stand, and sometimes that stand meant saying no to bad political and economic policy.

3. Stop Negative Self-Dialogue

We all can probably play back in our minds every negative or embarrassing thing we’ve ever done to ourselves, been subjected to, or done to someone else. Whether it’s tripping over one’s shoelaces in the fourth grade, or being fired from a job, wronging someone else, or overhearing someone speaking negatively about us, those thoughts are forever solidified in our minds.

Replaying those thoughts, however, and constantly punishing oneself for past mistakes, is counterproductive at certain points. At some point, it’s more important to learn from situations and move on, instead of psychologically beating yourself up.

The next time you find yourself saying, “I’m not pretty enough”, “I did this horrible thing once five years ago and I’ll never forgive myself”, or any type of statement along those lines, turn off that negative self-dialogue. Look in the mirror and say something kind to yourself. Read some inspirational quotes. Acknowledge that you are taking steps and making an effort to be a better person. Admit to yourself that everyone makes mistakes, and most importantly, that making mistakes is okay.

Example: This article does a good job of listing Steve Job’s failures. We remember him anyway, and we remember him as a pioneer and someone who didn’t give up. When things go wrong, and they often do, it’s easy for us to remember every mistake we have ever made along the way.

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Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of our goals because of that lack of confidence. Don’t give up and attempt to stay positive. Train your brain to think of things in a new, more positive way. Most of all, keep working hard. Failure doesn’t have to be permanent.

4. Stop Focusing On Just Today

Successful people tend to understand the value of a good plan. They plan out their day, their goals, a budget and they plan how much to save for retirement. That doesn’t mean they don’t have fun, though. They most certainly do! They just make sure to plan when it is appropriate and inappropriate to have fun. They make time for productivity and fun, but still save and think about the future.

So, stop just focusing on today and having fun. Think about where you want to be in five, 10 or 15 years down the road! Having a good focus aids in success!

Example: Neil deGrasse Tyson has been in love with the universe and science since he was nine years old. Because of that love, he worked long-term to study the things he cared about. He was accepted into Harvard where he majored in physics, eventually moving on to advanced education. His list of accomplishments would take up another full article in and of itself.

5. Stop Ignoring Your Goals

Stop believing things will just work out for you because you’re a good person. Good things only happen to people who make an effort. A part of making an effort is setting goals for oneself. As evidenced in the previous point, it’s not enough to just focus on the day at hand. It’s important to manage time and set short-term and long-term goals in order to be able to track progress and have something to strive for.

Example: Alan Turing is considered the father of artificial intelligence and computers. He also broke the code to the Nazi encryption machine called Enigma. He faced many challenges along the way, such as the inability to identify with others and being charged with indecency, for which he was eventually pardoned. Despite his personal struggles, though, he managed to break the code for Enigma, saving approximately 14 million people from death and in turn helped end World War 2.

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6. Stop Isolating People

Successful people understand that not everything is about work, church or similar obligations. Some things are about family, relaxation, and hobbies. It’s easy to get the impression that everyone who feels or defines themselves as successful probably has no spare time on their hands, and in some cases, that’s true.

However, it isn’t always. Social isolation can kill people. In fact, many successful people have mastered the art of balance. They don’t isolate the people they love because they have large goals or something they want to accomplish. Instead, they incorporate those they love into their goals and hobbies.

Example: According to a recent Forbes article, many leaders feel lonely. However, here are 25 examples of social business leaders who seem to thrive on relationships. It’s okay to know how to work alone and prefer that, but it’s also important to be able to rely on your staff, friends, and family for support.

Involving people in leadership or product processes makes them feel valued and provides valuable feedback. Successful people enjoy that relationship. They also enjoy their time away from their goals and work to spend time with their loved ones.

7. Stop Comparing Yourself To Everyone Else

Successful people understand that the only person they can compete with today is the person they were yesterday. They are too focused on themselves and their goals to worry about anyone else. They don’t want to compare themselves to others because it’s counterproductive. However, they do analyze where they have weak points and are able to genuinely admire people who have mastered things they have not.

There is no use to comparing yourself to someone else. It’s counterproductive and harmful to your self-esteem. It also helps to harbor negative self-dialogue.

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Example: Taylor Swift is one of the most successful recording artists of our time, but before that, she was a struggling musician in Nashville playing at small venues and coffee shops. She would turn in demos to various studios, covering a variety of songs.

It was only when she started playing and writing her own music that she got noticed and became the celebrity she is today. She faced a lot of adversity as well. There were people who doubted her skills and told her she couldn’t sing. Her confidence and faith in herself overcame that.

8. Stop Living In The Past

Successful people learn from their failures, but they do not live in the past. They take the skills and lessons they acquired from their failures and apply them to the present and future. Don’t live in your own personal past. Don’t define yourself by who you were. Define yourself by who you are today and by who you’re working toward becoming.

Example: Would we even remember Thomas Edison if he gave up on his ideas before becoming successful? Can you imagine simply focusing on what happened yesterday? So what if yesterday was a failure? Try again! Failure teaches us about what doesn’t work, and helps us get closer to a process that does work. Choose your attitude and control it. Move forward. Remember, failure is feedback.

9. Stop Tolerating Dishonest People

Successful people appreciate other people for their unique traits and gifts. They do not attempt to harm, belittle, or in any way demean others for their own successes or ideas. They are open to relationships with others, but know when to cut the cord, so to speak.

People can be too forgiving when it comes to being wronged, and it’s important to know one’s limits. Successful people do not tolerate negative and dishonest people, because they are too busy loving honest, sincere people.

Example: Everyone. We have all had frenemies. We have all invested in people who did not return our investment in them. Successful people know how to weed these dishonest people out. No one wants unneeded negativity around themselves or around the people they love. Read this article for tips on how to deal with dishonest people.

Featured photo credit: Nevit Dilmen via commons.wikimedia.org

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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