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Your Life Will Be Much Better If You Can Do These 10 Things

Your Life Will Be Much Better If You Can Do These 10 Things
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Life is all about learning. The ups and downs. The triumphs and falls. For those at the bottom looking up to the people at the top of the success ladder, it seems as if they got there so effortlessly. So what is their one ingredient to success? What has been their one magic ingredient pushing them forward?

It isn’t just one thing that pushes someone to success, but a series of attitudes and habits that they adopt over the years, developing habits that can help push them further, in order to achieve more. What I have learnt personally and observed from others over the years, is that when you feel like quitting, taking a break or simply not sure of how to reach your goal, it is important to know how to spur yourself back on.

The art in reaching your goals and pushing yourself forward is to not quit. By not quitting you are still outdoing those with their butts on the sofa making excuses. So even if you think you are making little to no progress, you are! Sure, sometimes it is tough, tiring or tedious but if it is worth having, you can push yourself on.

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We all lose our way sometimes, taking our eyes off the bigger picture or our main goal. We’re human, after all! But the problem isn’t when you fall or stumble, the problem occurs when you don’t get back on the horse and carry on! Reminding yourself and pushing yourself on (even when you’re fed up, tired or ready to quit) is what separates the winners from the losers.

So whether your goal is to run a marathon, start your new business or grab that promotion, here are 10 easily digestible things you can do to keep on going toward success.

1. Know that you CAN cope

Whenever you reach a hurdle or a setback, just knowing that you can cope with whatever comes your way (even unexpectedly), will help spur you on. If you’re facing a challenging time, and adopt the attitude that you can’t overcome it, then you’re going to struggle to push yourself on. Knowing that you can cope with anything that life throws at you will help you take one step in front of the other, helping to push yourself on toward achieving.

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2. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good

This is something my first boss taught me four years ago and I have never forgotten it.  “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good,” she used to tell me all the time. In my desperation to be perfect at work and not make mistakes (I wanted to make a good impression), I was putting undue stress on myself. Of course it is good to keep pushing and developing yourself, but don’t aim for perfection because it simply isn’t achievable. Aim to improve yourself, one small step at a time, but focus on the journey and don’t let perfection be the destination.

3. Know that one bad day is not the end of the world

When you are on the path to reaching your goals, think of the end goal as if you will have won the war. Along the way there will be a series of battles that you have to win, but you won’t be able to win them all. But that doesn’t matter, because you don’t have to win all the battles to win the main war, just the majority. If you are having a bad day, week, month or even year, try to see the bigger picture in terms of your end goal. Chances are that in the grand scheme of things, it won’t matter. If you can remind yourself that one bad day isn’t the end of the world, you’ll be able to push yourself on so much further.

4. Ask questions

In my experience, most people don’t ask enough questions – either they are too scared or embarrassed or they just cat be bothered. I don’t know why, but we seem to live in a culture where asking questions implies that you aren’t clever. The beauty of asking questions however, is that you can find out more and learn from others by doing so. By picking the brains of experts, you can absorb their knowledge without having made the mistakes and experiences they did. Ask questions to the right people and you can help to reach your goals.

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5. See challenges, not problems

When pushing further, one thing that really helps is if you can adopt an attitude where you don’t see problems but see challenges, solutions and experiences. At the end of the day, life is one big learning curve. Of course life is going to throw hurdles at you, and there will be times that you’ll struggle and have to overcome problems, but so long as you’re still standing and come out the other side, you’ve pushed yourself further. A positive can-do attitude won’t magically make difficulties disappears but they will help you overcome them, making way for a happier and more successful time.

6. Feel the emotions

Life is full of ups and downs and if it wasn’t, it would probably be pretty boring! When reaching your goals and pushing yourself further, it helps if you can be open to the emotions that come with it. There will be times of joy and for celebration, and there will also be times when all you want to do is curl up and not leave the house. But it is O.K. to cry! Don’t fight the emotions, but instead ride them through. You’ll come out stronger on the other side.

7. Don’t compare yourself to others

Unless you’re someone like Beyonce or Jay Z, Victoria Beckham or Bill Gates (with his $79 billion wealth), then there is always going to be someone who is more successful, prettier, skinnier, has a better job, earns more money, has more friends or has a more luxurious lifestyle than you. Don’t compare yourself with others. You should be pushing yourself on because you want to and not because you feel you have to in order to “keep up with the Joneses”.  Besides, the person with the five bedroom house and two sports cars sitting in the drive might not even be that happy! You are your own benchmark.

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8. Eat healthy and exercise

You cannot expect to climb mountains and achieve great things if your body and mind aren’t running at full capacity. Your body needs to be correctly fueled, maintained and trained if you are expecting to achieve. The only way to ensure all cylinders are firing efficiently is to be healthy, in both mind and body. Eating healthily and exercising are key to this. A simple formula, but it works and anyone can adopt this habit. Of course you don’t have to go overboard – no one likes the obsessive person who is down at the gym every spare hour, nor would life be fun without the odd chocolate cake – but make sure you’re taking the right steps to be ensure a good well-being.

9. Know that you control your life

The beauty in life is that you are in the driver’s seat. It is up to you how you steer your life and what the end destination is. If you can drive yourself in the right direction, you’ll be giving yourself the power to go where you want to. Knowing this and doing this will help spur you on, especially on those days when you don’t feel like it. Of course, we can’t predict or stop external circumstances, but you can do your best to swerve to avoid them or drive right over them.

10. Know that success isn’t linear

Over the years the one thing that has really struck me and helped me spur myself on is knowing that success isn’t a linear straight line shooting up. It’s sometimes one step forward, two steps back, followed by a going-round-in-circles until you are dizzy! By accepting this you will feel more empowered than ever. Knowing what success really looks like reminds us on those ‘bad’ days that it is O.K., and progress is still being made.

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Finally, the most important thing you can do in life on your road to success is to have fun!
Whatever you do, put some love and life into it. That way, when there are tough days, at least you can do it all with bit of a smile!

Featured photo credit: viktor hanacek via picjumbo.com

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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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