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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
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 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 July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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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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