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If You Don’t Do These Now, You’ll Regret 10 Years Later

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If You Don’t Do These Now, You’ll Regret 10 Years Later

When you’re nearing the summit of this turbulent climb through life, will you reach the top with wild enthusiasm or will you be hobbling with the aching knees of regret? You’ve climbed through storms, passed over green patches and had help from friends, and now it’s almost over. Your whole life has been leading you to this moment and one thing is certain: this final ascent we all have to do alone.

What thoughts will flash through your mind? You will be faced with tough questions such as: Did I do enough, love enough, was I happy?

You might leave these questions simmering on the back burner, thinking tomorrow will be a good day to contemplate the answers, but remember—tomorrow might not come!

So here’s what you can do today. Let’s call this an insurance policy for tomorrow’s happiness.

1.  Put your health and wellness above everything else

There is an old saying: “If you don’t have your health you have nothing,” and this is very true. Your body is housing your soul. Exercise, eat clean and get the proper rest. Take care of your body so that you have the opportunity to lead a long and full life. See 15 tips on restarting an exercise practice.

2.  Take the time to do the things you love

This may sound cliché, but work less and play more. You will never regret taking a vacation, engaging in a new hobby or spending a day with those who make you happy. But you might regret never taking that art class, reading that book or crossing big items off the bucket list. Be a participant in life.

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3.  Stop taking life so seriously

Why are you taking life so seriously anyway? Really? Find humor in something everyday, and laugh, laugh a lot!

4.  Always say what you need to say

If you love someone, tell them. If someone hurt you, tell them. If you have trouble expressing your feelings, then write a letter. Make sure those around you know each and every day how you feel.

5.  Open up your mind to possibilities

If you look in your garage and see a coiled, dark shadow that resembles a snake, your reaction might be to jump with fear, but later when you look closer and realize it’s just a green hose, you might feel silly for believing the tricks of your mind. Stop being controlled by your deluded projections.

Change your perspective and open yourself up to a new world of exciting and fulfilling possibilities. Look at your life with fresh eyes and you’ll find improved relationships, more excitement, and less resentments, anger and bitterness.

6.  Follow your own path—live a life true to you

Stop comparing yourself to others and stop striving for perfection. Life is not a masquerade ball—take off the mask, be yourself! If people don’t like it, then maybe it’s time to find a new party. Doing or being any other way will leave you feeling lonely, depressed and hopeless. Stop living a life based on the expectations of others.

7.  Stop living in the past

Right now you need to throw away regrets of the past. It’s gone, there is no point dwelling on what could of been, doing so will only rob the present moment of joy. 

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The past doesn’t exist except as a memory, it’s a mental story and it can’t be changed. Why not tell the story of your past in a way that enhances your present moment and future.

8.  Accept the things you cannot change

 “If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying.” — The Dalai Lama

When you fight against reality, you get bloody in a battle of what ifs and denial. Whether your reality is that you should have married someone else, said something you needed to say, or are dealing with an illness, the reality is you can’t change any these things. Dwelling or worrying is only robbing your present moment of all joy.

What you can do is re-evaluate your life now and take the necessary steps to make the appropriate changes. Follow your instincts, they will tell you when you have veered off the path of where you should be, whether it be your relationship or career. Tune into your inner compass it will guide you in the right direction.

Take “what if”, “should have” and “why me” out of your story. Move on.

9.  Practice mindful living

Mindful living will in fact slow down time; it will enhance the present moment and fill otherwise mundane days with awe and joy.

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Ten years from now you might think, Where did my life go? When we live mindfully we immerse ourselves in moments. These are the moments that make up our lives. If you don’t practice mindfulness you run the risk of having these precious moments of your life lost to a string of foggy over-thinking. Rest in the spaces in between the major events, these spaces are your life.

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” — Jon Kabat-Zinn

10.  Stop chasing money, fame, and possessions

We crave wealth, prestige, fame and popularity, we crave material things and beautiful people. We mistakenly think that happiness is going to arrive when we meet these goals. Instead of enjoying our life, we are in a constant pursuit of something other than where we are right now.

At the end of your life, your expensive BMW will not be what’s flashing through your mind. You will more likely smile at the memory of your loyal dog. Stop chasing material possessions, there is no real happiness there, only an endless pursuit.

11.  Always practice gratitude

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a  friend.” — Melody Beattie

Gratitude improves health, happiness, spirituality, connection, relationships, self-worth and simply gives life intense meaning.

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Even if your life isn’t perfect—and here’s a secret, it never will be perfect—you still have a lot to be grateful for. So every day remember to take the time to smile, laugh and truly say thanks for all the small and big joys in your life.

12.  Love

This is an excerpt by the famous Martha Beck that has made an enormous impact on my life. It sums up regret beautifully:

“So the ultimate lesson of regret, the one that will help guide you into a rich and satisfying future, is this: Every time life brings you to a crossroads, from the tiniest to the most immense, go toward love, not away from fear. Think of every choice in terms of “What would thrill and delight me?” rather than “What will keep my fear—or the events, people, and things I fear—at bay?”

Pay attention to all of the sources of love in your life and you’ll develop a growing sense of abundance of how much beauty surrounds you each day.

So let’s summarize: A cheat sheet to living without regrets

  • Take care of your health
  • Make time to do the things you love, work less, laugh and play
  • Say what you need to say
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Change your perspective
  • Let go of the past
  • Accept the things you can not change
  • Stop thinking happiness is a future event
  • Stop chasing money and material wealth
  • Live authentically
  • Take off the mask
  • Follow your instincts
  • Practice gratitude
  • Don’t make your decisions based on fear
  • Love, love love!

There is no guarantee that you won’t make any bad decisions, but when you start living your life with these tools in mind, your days will naturally become meaningful. Your wise eyes will be full of adventure and tales: adventures that might not be perfect, but at the very least won’t be filled with regrets.

More by this author

Tina Williamson

Writer and creator of Mindfulmazing

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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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