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Do it Already! 3 Ways to Jumpstart Your Dreams

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Do it Already! 3 Ways to Jumpstart Your Dreams

I wanted to be a writer from the time I was four years old, but I spent the next twenty years of my life not really writing. Some say that no matter what we dream of doing, jumpstarting our dreams is so much closer than it seems in the dream itself. If I wanted to be a writer, why didn’t I just write?

The verb was right under my nose.

Sadly, I didn’t believe in my writing. Even sadder still, I never showed my writing to anyone around me, and I didn’t have any feedback (negative or positive) to build upon. How could I believe in myself if I didn’t have anyone to tell me if I was good or not, or how to improve?

At some point, I had to rip the bandaid right off.

I did it by starting a blog, sharing it with my friends, and bracing myself for their feedback. Luckily, the feedback was constructive, and I’m now working harder than ever at becoming a better writer—living my long-lost dream.

In his book Screw It, Let’s Do It, Sir Richard Branson describes many of the crazy things he’s attempted in his life. Apparently, he doesn’t stick to just building billion dollar businesses; he’s also taken many scary journeys, like a hot air balloon flight that almost cost him his life. In explaining his risk-taking, he says:

“I believe in myself. I believe in the hands that work, in the brains that think, and in the hearts that love.”

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Without believing in myself, there’s no way I could’ve written a few books and shared my heart and soul on my blog. Without putting myself out there, there’s no way my words would be right in front of you right now. If there’s something you’ve dreamed of doing but haven’t quite started yet, I have a few questions for you, but, first, here are a few tips that worked for me:

Start So Small That There’s No Way to Lose

You’ve heard plenty of people tell you to acquire the habit of flossing by just flossing one tooth. Mind tricks like this do help build new habits, but the mind trick isn’t exactly what I find so powerful.

Starting small helps me feel competent enough to keep going.

I’ll never forget my first blog post: it consisted of an image of a Nutella jar with a candle on top, and the title might have been something like “I Don’t Know What I’m Doing“. It was a simple little test, but it accomplished my task for that day; setting up the blog. I felt accomplished that day. I felt like I climbed a mountain. I had never set up a blog before, and tackling that task made me feel awesome—awesome enough to tackle my next task the very next day.

Is there a way you could break up your tasks so you can dedicate a little bit of time each day to accomplishing the overarching dream?

There’s a reason you haven’t gone for your dream yet, whether it be money, time, or something else. Breaking it up into small pieces may help to change that in the future.

Hack Your Fears & Uncertainties

I’m convinced that the hardest part about fear isn’t feeling it; it’s mentally grappling with it. Browsing the internet, I stumbled upon a great video by Tim Ferriss that covers just how he (a renowned author and lifehacker) fights fear. In the video, Tim describes a way to very practically analyze and plan out what facing fear looks and feels like.

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In the short five minute talk, Tim suggests grappling with fear by pulling out a piece of paper and making three columns.

Column 1: Bad things that could happen if you do what you’re considering

Column 2: Things you can do to minimize bad things from happening

Column 3: Things you could do to undo the change, or re-achieve where you are now

By putting those three columns down on paper and filling them out with as much detail as possible, what fear can’t be undone?

If there’s something you are fearing, can you apply the three column smackdown to squash it forever?

I went after my dream of being a writer by starting my blog. From the beginning, I knew that the worst thing that could happen was getting negative reactions from people around me. If that happened, my plan was pretty simple: DELETE IT. Your dream may be different. It may include bigger risks and bigger fears. Whatever the size of your dream, the three column approach may help you sort through the uncertainties.

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PS. To make it simple, I made you a simple spreadsheet to use the three column approach. Download it to your Google Drive for free here.

Enlist the Help of Others

No matter how much we try, there’s only so much we can do alone. In my opinion, it takes a village to do most anything awesome.

They say that the easiest way to change is to get friends that are where you want to be.

Some of the best successes I’ve had as a writer (and blogger) have been a direct result of making friends with people from all walks of life and experiences. I’ve met amazing people at conferences but also in my own hometown. Are you underestimating the power of community? Whether you dream of climbing Mt. Everest or quitting your job to move to a tropical beach, the knowledge and wisdom of anyone who’s done it before can help you leaps and bounds—especially when it comes to skipping common mistakes.

In my experience (which is all I know), one of the best ways to make new friends is to thank people who have made an impact in your world. No matter how scary it sounds, I constantly reach out to people who I admire to say I’m grateful for their work. Some of these people end up being incredible mentors and friends.

Ready to Jumpstart Your Dreams?

Almost everyone I come across has huge dreams for their lives. They want to conquer their fears and strive to always be better, but they fail on the follow-through. If you want to go after your dreams sooner rather than later—because there’s no better time than now—try these three steps to jumpstart your dreams now.

Your life is passing you by every single second. It’s yours to live. Are you living it?

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I’d love to hear from you:

What’s holding you back from living your dreams?

Is there something in particular you’re afraid of? Could you avoid it?

Could hanging out and brainstorming with others help you achieve your dreams?

Leave your ideas and stories in the comments!

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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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