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Time to Write a New Chapter in Your Life? Five ways to get you started

Time to Write a New Chapter in Your Life? Five ways to get you started

 You Are the Author of Your Life

Our life, including our career, is like a book. Some chapters are phenomenal and others leave a little to be desired. You’d like to skip right over those. Yet, every day adds a new page to our overall journey.

Until the final sentence has been written, there’s still time to change the story.

As we flip through the pages of our life, we live through an array of emotions, actions, and circumstances. We have our ups and downs. We laugh, we cry, we win, we lose, we falter, and we grow strong.

But when you are on the last page, what will your book say about you? What story did it tell?

  • Who were you as a person? What was it about you that people value?
  • What are your values?
  • What have you achieved? Where did you work? Where did you live?
  • What added meaning to your life and gave you a sense of fulfillment?
  • How did your life unfold in these areas: family, friends, significant other, career, health, and your emotional and physical well-being?
  • Where did you travel? What did you do for fun?
  • What advice did you pass on to a younger generation?
  • What is your favorite memory in life?
  • What gave you the greatest motivation?
  • What was your passion?

Will your life book be powerful and compelling or will it be full of pages that didn’t have much of an impact to you?

Your story continues to unfold.

The Past is the Past and Our Power is in the Present

If you don’t like how the story is unfolding, change it. You can’t rewrite life but you can start a new chapter.

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The “what if” syndrome is non-productive and a good waste of mental energy. What’s done is
done. A critical assessment of your life and career lessons can be useful as you build your future. But, spending time going backwards is simply not logical. Nothing to see there. Life is a forward progression; our power comes with the control we have today.

And, that power belongs to us. We own it.

Today is Never Going to Happen Again

Future achievements are prepared for in the present moment. Let today be the standard for your personal theme of success. Don’t let five years or even one more year go by while you keep looking back with regret.

If you will ever live the way you want in the future; you have to live in the present first. Make things happen now. There’s no control over the past but there is control over the present which leads to control of the future.

George Bernard Shaw tells us “The possibilities are numerous once we decide to act and not react.”

Five Ways to Write Your Story

Consider everything that has happened up until this point as character development.Now build on that and write something new.

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A good book takes the reader on a compelling journey. It grabs you. You keep turning the pages because you want to see what happens next. It gives you a satisfied ending. And, you connect with the characters in all their glory and even with their weaknesses.

1. Give Yourself a Powerful Voice

Stephen R. Covey said “One word expresses the pathway to greatness: voice. Those on this path find their voice and inspire others to find theirs. The rest never do.”

Give yourself a voice. Flex your vocal cords. The voice is what carries you through in the story. It permeates every page, paragraph, and sentence. How you express yourself is a direct reflection upon how people experience who you are and what you represent.

Your voice defines you. Don’t let your individuality be misrepresented because your voice doesn’t communicate your soulful essence. Your voice gives you clarity in your life’s direction. It gives you the freedom of expression without holding anything back. It’s power.

Knowing your voice gives you strength of character. It enhances all areas in your life from your personal relations to your career choices.

2. Surround Yourself with Notable Characters

A captivating book has more than just a main personality. It’s filled with memorable characters. They can make the most mundane day fresh and exhilarating. Unforgettable characters make the story come alive and they’re one of the most important aspects to a good story. They’re distinctive to every book and they make us feel emotions. They help us see the world in new ways. They help us to re-think our own lives and motivations and affect us in a manner so that they live on in our memories for years.

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Who do you surround yourself with in life that gives you a different perspective? Who inspires you? Who motivates you? Who helps you step outside of your comfort zone so that you live more experiences?

Jim Rohn, motivational speaker, tells us that “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Who are the people you spend time with?

Are they happy, grouchy, ambitious, optimistic, and enthusiastic? Evaluate the characters in your life to make sure these are the people you want in your book.

3. Write a Great Story Line

“If you deliberately plan on being less than you are capable of being, then I warn you that you’ll be unhappy for the rest of your life.” –Abraham Maslow

Make them laugh and make them cry. It makes no difference what elements play into what a great story personally means to you. The point is that you believe it’s exciting. You’re invested in the plot and in the characters. You are living an engaged life and sometimes that makes you want to stay up until 2:00 a.m. because you are not ready to put the book down.

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4. A Vibrant Setting

Your setting, both work and personal, ground the story. The setting adds to the details of your book. It helps people understand who you are. Settings set the mood, influence the way characters behave, predict events, and invoke passionate responses. Without a setting, it’s just events.

A setting provides a world in which your story plays out. It’s not just important, it’s vital.

5. Think About the Ending and Then Come Up with the Middle

If you get stuck on a chapter, skip ahead. Decide how you want your story to end and then work backwards. That way, every decision along the way will be a lot easier to make if you know the end goal and what you are working to accomplish.

It doesn’t matter what chapter or phase of the book you are currently in because each day presents another opportunity to write something new.

It’s up to you. This is your life and career legacy. Write your story the way you want to live it.

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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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