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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

How to Stay Motivated and On-Track When You’re Struggling

How to Stay Motivated and On-Track When You’re Struggling

Maybe you’ve been trying to kick-start your business and it just hasn’t worked yet. Maybe you’ve just started but you’re already frustrated. Or maybe you’ve wanted to hit that next level for years and haven’t been able to get there. Regardless of your situation, getting motivated and on-track isn’t difficult. It’s staying that way that’s the trick. And when you’re struggling to “make it,” sometimes it’s even harder. You find yourself wandering, letting yourself get distracted, and wondering if you’ll ever really make your mark. Want to end the cycle of struggle? Master these tips and you’ll be virtually unstoppable.

First, know that this is a temporary state. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been where you are. All that you need to know is that nothing is permanent. All things change, even if it seems that they don’t. It’s simply a law of nature — nothing stays the same forever. The universe is constantly moving, evolving, and changing, and so are you. So instead of seeing this as a neverending path into darkness, know that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and every day, it’s getting closer. And as soon as you get a new client, sell your first product, or hit that next target, everything within you will shift.

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Second, remind yourself what you’re fighting for. When you’ve been trying to make something happen for awhile, you can start to lose sight of the end goal. Instead of focusing on the reason you started this journey in the first place, you begin to focus on smaller, more immediate outcomes. For example, if you started your business so you could eventually free up enough time to spend with your family, but you’ve been working for a long time and haven’t seen the results you’d expected or hoped for, your goal may have shifted from “be with my family” to “make my business work.” This has exactly the opposite effect than you originally intended. By shifting your priorities, now you’re probably spending less time with your family.

Sometimes it’s helpful to create tangible reminders of the reason you started down this path.  A vision board may be useful, or just a statement, penned boldly and tacked to a bulletin board near your workspace. If you want to remind yourself of a forgotten goal and reintegrate it into your thinking process and mindset, set your alarm a few minutes earlier each morning and spend that time meditating on what you’re working towards. Reaffirm what you’re fighting for and you’ll find the will to fight is restored and renewed once more.

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Third, believe in yourself. It can be hard to believe in yourself when you’ve been trying to make something work for a long time. Sometimes you just lose faith in your own ability to make it work or see it through. One of the best ways to stay strong in your belief in yourself is to keep track of your successes, even the small ones. When you’re feeling down on yourself, go back to the list of successes and review them. Remind yourself that you are capable and you can make this work.

Another way to rebuild your confidence involves something social psychologists have known for decades — that our feelings about ourselves are frequently a reflection of how we think others perceive us. So take advantage of that! Read through your client testimonials and e-mails. Ask your clients for periodic evaluations and you’re bound to receive some fantastic feedback (and if there are some negatives, folks, that’s a great learning experience — it tells you exactly what you need to do to improve and make your clients happy). Even if your faith in yourself falters, others still believe in you.

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Finally, get help before you’re in crisis. If your business isn’t where you want it to be, if you aren’t making the leaps ahead that you want to be making, there’s obviously something going on. Before things go too far, before you get lost and become totally unmotivated, get help!

The problem may be with your business — it could be a branding issue, a marketing issue, or maybe just you aren’t giving your clients what they want.  Hire a consultant who can turn your business inside out finding ways to improve your results. The problem may also lie within — you yourself might benefit from some “fine-tuning.” Hire a coach and work through any roadblocks that may be getting in the way of your success. Hire a mentor and model his/her behavior. Or if you’re struggling with self-discipline and need a budget solution, ask a reliable friend to be your accountability partner so you both can improve.

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As you begin to master the ability to keep your motivation high, it will become easier to stay on-track. Moments of frustration will be fewer and farther between and, as you master your mindset, you’ll find that you actually achieve success and reach your targets faster.

Featured photo credit: Becca Tapert via unsplash.com

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Susan Baroncini-Moe

Susan Baroncini-Moe is an executive coach and business leader with over sixteen years’ experience.

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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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