“Life was a bloody battlefield until I conquered the enemy and won the war. Now, life is a journey, and I am a warrior. Prepared for anything and weakened by nothing. There are hills and dales, mountains and plateaus, blind spots and brilliant vistas, but none of that matters. All that matters is my second chance, and the only thing capable of disrupting my path, is myself.”
―B.G. Bowers,Death and Life
Firstly, thank you for being here and I hope by reading this article you may gain some insight and some strategies to help you solve the dilemma of feeling “lost and frustrated” with your life currently.I can’t promise you that I can give you the solution to the dilemma you face. However, by telling my story and sharing my experiences of feeling lost and frustrated and what I did about it, may help you to make a decision about how you can start to figure out what it is you want to do with your life.
Before I start telling you my story, I would like you, to give yourself a break and acknowledge to yourself that it is OK to feel lost, frustrated and confused about what you want to do with your life. Today, right now, reading this article is the start of your journey to figuring out what the heck it is that you want to do. I also want to say ( yes I am getting to my story very soon…) that it doesn’t matter what age you are 15, 25, 40 , 50, 60, 70, this feeling of being lost and not fulfilled in your life applies to all ages.
The first time I remember asking myself the question “what do I want to do with my life?” was when I was heading off to university, and the last time I asked myself that same question was December 1st 2013. I had just been made redundant for the third time in 18 months. Each of these redundancies felt horrible and I don’t care what anyone says it feels like you have been fired, rejected and you feel you are a failure. There was nothing I could do about it, I was not needed and that was it. I had financial commitments such as a mortgage, kids at university to pay for, credit card debt, very little savings, unfinished house that badly needs a new roof and the list goes on.
The Opportunity Created from Three RedundanciesAdvertising
These three redundancies were the catalyst for me to start making some decisions about my life and what I wanted to do. I also had enough of handing over toother people the power to choose how I lived my life.I knew I had to make some changes because if I kept doing the same things i.e find another job, I would be again vulnerable to experiencing the same results. I had no more energy to get back on the band wagon and start applying for jobs. I am in my early 50’s and getting a job that I liked (not loved) was a bit like winning the Lottery.
Commitment and the Fear of Failure
I decided to make a commitment to take action because I had always known what I wanted to do but I had managed to findexcuses and reasons as to why I could not follow my dream.I then did something I had never done before, I sat down and considered the very high risk of failure if I was to follow my dream to be a writer, speaker and coach.I then rationalized with myself what failure would look like for me by writing a For and Against List for Failure.Once I considered the list I realized that actually it would be okay if I failed as I have the control and I would be accountable for my own failure. Nobody else had control to decide what I could or could not do. Once I overcame my fear of failure I felt relieved and energized.
Managing the Risk of Failure
The other thing I did was look at all the things that I needed to put in place that would manage the financial disruption in my family’s life. What this meant was, I knew my husband would have to work longer and harder to make up the financial shortfall and for him to do this willingly I had to have a plan with a realistic time limit. This exercise provided me with the motivation to seek the help of 2 friends Matty & Menilik to create a12 month project plan to Reinvent Myself. We called this project plan “Kathryn’s 2014 Timeline for Success”.This plan is my journey of discovery toward living my dream to be a writer, speaker and coach. The 12 month plan has a short termvision, tasks and activities which I constantly refer to on the journey. Once I reach the end of my 12 month journey I will then consider what has worked, what hasn’t gone so well, what adjustments I need to make that will keep taking me toward my dream to be a writer, speaker and coach.
While I write this I am thinking this looks so simple and may be you are thinking the same thing too? It is simple but yet it is challenging and so hard to do!! Note to self…… “I have to keep reminding myself to hold back from over analyzing everything as it only complicates the process and makes the journey so much harder”
The Importance of a Plan
“If you don’t know where you are going,you’ll end up someplace else.”
Over the past 30 years plus I have had a number of some successful and some not successful attempts to define “what it was I really wanted to do with my life” but all these attempts really didn’t go anywhere – they were more like short bursts of activity where I got to do things I really enjoyed but then the opportunities to sustain the activity dried up. There are a number of reasons why this happened. Looking back on my life to when I first asked myself the question “what do I want to do with my life” I think that if I had learnt how to write my life vision even if it was for only three years (at 18 years old, three years was about as far in the future I could see then) I would have had some guidelines in place that MAY have helped me make more informed choices about the direction of my life. I am convinced that when you create a Life Vision Plan you set up the foundations for you to live a life where you have clarity and purpose about what you want to do. You can be at any age to write your Life Vision Plan and you can determine the activities and actions that you think will get you to your destination.Advertising
Having being on this journey for six months now, I have three key learnings that I would like to share with you. These three key learnings have certainly helped me to get clarity and focus on what it is that I want to do in my life. By sharing these key learnings it may help you to address that “sense of loss and frustration” you have as a result of not knowing what it is you want to do in your life.
Three Key Learnings
1. Get very clear about your life purpose and then get a life vision plan.
“Having no plan “is like leaping off a precipice and trying to knit yourself a parachute on the way down.”
―Kelli Jae BaeliArmchair Detective
Get to know who you are, your strengths, your passions, what is important to you, your personality and what makes you happy because these are your guiding Life Principles – all the actions, tasks, activities that you set to achieve your life vision may change over time and may need adjustment however your Life Purpose doesn’t change because it describes who you are and your uniqueness in the world. If you are at university, or if you are in your midlife go find a way to determine what your Life Purpose is, because once you have done that then you can create your Life Vision Plan.
There is a technique to writing a Life Vision Plan called Visualization – which means you visualize the future of what you want and you write that vision as if you have achieved it. I used Ann Webb fromIdeal Life Visionto help me write my Life Vision and she was great. This solution may not be for you however go do your research and find a solution that you think will help you define your Life Purpose and your Life Vision PlanAdvertising
2. Embrace the challenge of personal change and the possibility of failurebecause if you do, your Resilience Flourishes
“Your gain strength,courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.You must do the thing you think you cannot do” – Eleanor Roosevelt
My 12 month Reinvention Plan for me is my map that guides me on my journey – without it I would be still wandering around in a dilemma wondering what I should do and making some not so great choices about what I want to do with my life. My plan even though it is an essential part of this journey I still had to take a look at myself to recognise what changes I had to make in order for me to Commit to going on this journey. As I said earlier, when I personally acknowledged that there was possibility of failure and that failure was actually okayI then was in control of my actions and the fear of failure disappeared. I still get anxious and fearful but it doesn’t last for long and I keep going.
Then next thing I had to do was deal with my self limiting beliefs because they are dangerous and could distract me or excuse me from having to deal with difficult situations or challenges. I am a Deflection Queen and so I am very susceptible to listening to what my limiting self beliefs tell me – ‘this is too hard for you, you really don’t deserve to be successful, go get a job and be safe knowing you have money coming in to pay the bills, all your friends are successful and have made good career decisions – why haven’t you?, what do you really have to offer to the world?, how can you make a difference? – this list goes on and in fact while I am writing this I am starting to get very annoyed with this list! About two months into my journey I decided to deal with my Limiting Self Beliefs by naming them “Dirty Harry” and then I named my Empowered Self Beliefs “Angel” who I now have got to know really well and without her I wouldn’t be here today writing this article.
As a result of changing the way I think about myself and my fears around failure my resilience to dealing with the many challenges this journey entails is much stronger. To discover what you want to do with your life for some people it happens very quickly and for others like me it does takes awhile for what ever reason however personal change and failure are part of the package and so get on with it, embrace change, deal with fear of failure, get your resilience to a flourishing level and I guarantee you will know what you want to do with your life and what you need to do to get there.
3. Get your Support Groups in place and Celebrate your Success with them as this gives you the energy, the desire and motivation to keep going.Advertising
“The problem is that most people focus on their failures rather than their successes.But the truth is that most people have many more successes than failures.”Jack Canfield
I love celebrations and my personality type loves being in the limelight. The key to celebrating your successes is having people to share your celebrations with. This is where having your support groups such as friends, family, colleagues, the barista at your local cafe, your kids, around you to join in your celebrations is essential. Your support groups provide the energy for you to keep going, they encourage you and are committed to your success – what ever it is that you decide to do. Your commitment to them is, that you need to share your life purpose and your life vision with them – let them know what it is you want to do with your life;
- Why you want to do……. (Your Life Purpose)
- What your plan is to get there ( Your Life Vision)
- How you are going to implement (Your Action Plan)
Once your supporters are clear about what it is you want to do with your life and what you are doing about it, then they will promote you, celebrate with you and keep encouraging you to achieve your vision of what it is that you want to do with your life.
I don’t know exactly where I will be at on December 31, 2014 in regard to living my dream life however one thing I know, is that I gave it a go and in the words of Andrew Carnegie I have set my goal, I am going for it and that has certainly made me happy.
“If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes”
Last Updated on January 15, 2021
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension. 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.
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? 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.
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.
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:
“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.
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.
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
- Increasing Confidence with Body Language
- 8 Fatal Body Language Mistakes To Avoid During Presentations
- Be Instantly Irresistible With These 10 Body Language Tips
Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com
|||^||Berkeley News: The 16 facial expressions most common to emotional situations worldwide|
|||^||Science Daily: Teeth grinding and facial pain increase due to coronavirus stress and anxiety|
|||^||National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research: TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint & Muscle Disorders|
|||^||Michigan Medicine: Stress Management: Doing Progressive Muscle Relaxation|
|||^||Spectra Magazine: Oculesics: Science Speaks Where Words Do Not|
|||^||NCBI: Attention to Eye Contact in the West and East: Autonomic Responses and Evaluative Ratings|
|||^||ResearchGate: An Anthropology of the Handshake|
|||^||Sage Journals: Mapping the Range of Information Contained in the Iconic Hand Gestures that Accompany Spontaneous Speech|
|||^||Journal of Experimental Psychology: Hand Matters: Left-Hand Gestures Enhance Metaphor Explanation|