“When you wish upon a star, Makes no difference who you are, Anything your heart desires will come to you.” – “Pinocchio,” Walt Disney Pictures, lyrics by Ned Washington
Well, maybe it’s not quite as simple as merely wishing our dreams to come true but this life we lead comprises a series of wishes that are transformed into goals. Think of every step taken as inching us a bit closer to our desired results. Each step connects and builds upon the other. But you never set out on any course until you know where you want to go. If you did, who knows where you might end up! You have to have some vision of where you want the journey to flow. Your personal vision lays that foundation and will illuminate the path before you.
And what is a personal vision? It describes what you want in the future. Your vision signifies your dreams and starts to scratch the surface of your life purpose. When you build a vision that makes you feel happier, healthier, more successful, purpose driven, and filled with passion, you are more likely to set a plan into motion to make that vision become reality.Advertising
And what’s the difference between vision versus wishes? Living your life without a vision is like walking in the darkness. You’re going to bump into a lot of things. When you have a vision, it gives you a clear and positive direction. But remember, a vision without goals is just a wish.
3 Easy Steps to Turn Your Vision into Goals
Here’s the million dollar question: What if your life stayed the same over the next five years with no new changes? Do you like that idea, or does it scare the bejesus out of you? If you don’t have a warm and fuzzy feeling about that, don’t think you are stuck with that reality.
Today’s dream is tomorrow’s reality and here’s how you make that happen:Advertising
1. Imagine without limitations
Stephen Covey said, “All things are created twice. There’s a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation of all things.” So, here’s how to start the mental creation or vision. Grab a pen and paper. Find a peaceful place without distractions, perhaps pour a glass of wine, put on some music and think … just think.
Imagine that you are 80 years old. You’re happy and healthy. You are sitting on your porch watching an amazing sunset. As the sun dips for the evening, you start thinking about your life, the ideal life that you have led. What does that ideal life look like?
Answer these questions:Advertising
- Who are you as a person? What is 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, your emotional and spiritual wellbeing?
- Where did you travel? What did you do for fun?
- What advice would you pass on to a younger generation?
- What is your life story? What kind of life did you lead?
- What is your purpose in life?
- What is your favorite memory in life?
2. The Current Reality
Once you have answered all of the questions above, take a look at the questions again and answer them. This time answer them just as it is in the present day. Describe your life now. This is not an exercise to make you feel bad or inadequate. You simply need a starting point. You have to know where you are so you can get to where you want to be. This helps you chart that course.
3. Fill in the Gaps and Make Your Vision Successful
After you conduct your assessment, the areas between the reality and the vision are the gap areas. The only way to be successful in your vision is to continually visualize it, set goals, and develop a plan of action to reach your vision. Have both short-term and long-term goals so that over time you start to see more parts of your vision coming true. Then, one day, you will wake up and find that you are living your vision in real-time.
It’s not as hard as you might think to close the gap. Start with a plan that covers the next three to five years. For example, if you have envisioned obtaining your master’s degree, you have to diagram out a way to do that. How much money will it take? Which school? How long will it take? What type of schedule adjustments will you need to make? What will you study?Advertising
You have to plot out all of the action plans — or the step-by-step process — you will need to go through to meet this goal. For each of the envisioned goals, you will have to devise a plan. Once you do that, you are ready to go. It’s one step at a time. One goal at a time.
Be inspired today. Find a quiet setting where you have a few moments alone and start imagining without limitations!
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|