How to Improve Your Communication

How to Deliver Your Intended Message

Communication is key in every aspect of our lives – our careers, our education, and our relationships. Pretty much anyone can communicate in some way shape or form, but not everyone is capable of doing so effectively. While some are naturally gifted with great communication; many are not and that is OKAY!Communication is a skill that can be learned, practiced, and improved over time.

In this post, I have compiled my top 3 strategies to help in achieving these effective communication skills in your own life. As always, the audio version can be found on iTunes, Google Play, or SoundCloud.

1. Force Yourself to Listen

First of all, take note that listening is not the same as waiting your turn to talk. Sometimes we are so focused on the next point we want to say that we don’t actually listen to the other person.  You can’t concentrate on what someone’s saying if you’re busy forming what you’re going to say next. Often, the speaker can read your facial expressions and know that your mind’s elsewhere.

Be present in conversation,  slow down and listen to what the speaker is saying so that you can genuinely respond based on the information they provide. We all get so afraid that our opinions are going to get lost in the discussion that we tend to disregard what the other person has to say.

So, next time you find yourself in a heated discussion with someone you genuinely care about, slow down and actually listen. What are they saying? Why do they feel that way? Perhaps paying attention will change your own perspective.

2. Pay Attention to Non-Verbal Cues

This one may sound simple (i.e. if a person is facing away from you they probably aren’t interested in the conversation). However, have you ever tried paying attention to your own cues? Are you:

  1. Looking up and down from your phone while in a conversation in person with someone?
  2. Distracted by other visuals in the room?
  3. Crossing your arms?
  4. Yelling or speaking in an aggressive tone?

These could all be indicators (some more aggressive and obvious than others) that will reflect negatively on you in the perception of the other person. Focus on your tone (which will be different for different audiences), eye contact, and on appearing engaged and interested.

So much is interpreted – or misinterpreted – through body language, it is equally important that we are representing the message we want physically as much as we are verbally.

3. Keep Stress In Check

How many times have you said something in an argument that you later regretted? Learning how to quickly relieve stress and return to a calm state in an efficient and time effective manner is a necessary skill when it comes to effective communication. It is only in a more relaxed state that you can actually practice the other two tips I have mentioned.

But how? How do we remain calm when our emotions are starting to spin out of control? Whether it’s a job interview that has you jittered, or a heated conversation with a colleague or partner remember the following:

  1.  Recognize that you are stressed (muscle tightness, shortness of breath, heart pounding, temperature rising).
  2. Breathe. Simple but easily forgotten. Remember that breathing is what will help you maintain that calm, cool, attitude even if you are internally losing your mind.
  3. Be open to compromise, and accept the circumstances. Some things are simply out of your control. If you can both bend a little perhaps you can find middle ground painlessly.

Maintaining your stress levels, will allow you to think rationally, be able to understand the other party’s point of view, and respond in a calm and meaningful way.

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Even if you are not a gifted speaker, you can still become highly effective in the art of communication. Of course, it takes time and effort to develop this skill, BUT the more effort and practice you put in, the more instinctive and effective your communication skills will become.

How to Practice Self-Love

2 Steps to Loving Yourself

Self-love, what is it? You see it preached everywhere on the internet –

LOVE YOURSELF – EMBRACE YOUR FLAWS – BE THE REAL YOU

A seemingly nice concept to think about, but for some not so easy to achieve in practice. As someone who has never really struggled with this, I would like to share a single piece of advice that has always resonated with me and made self-love easy:

At the end of the day it is your CHOICE to accept yourself as you are. You are gifted one life, that’s it – why waste it in self-loathing when you could instead CHOOSE to enjoy it and enjoy yourself in all of your messy, imperfect glory.

Self-love is integral to determining your success in life, your career, your relationships, and so on. Valuing yourself and knowing what you deserve will guide you to make choices reflective of this value. Self-love grows from actions we take physically, psychologically, and spiritually. If this is something you struggle with and need some strategies to improve your mindset and afford yourself the love that you deserve, then these 4 tips are for you.

As always, the audio version for this post is available on iTunes, SoundCloud, and Google Play.

1. Set Boundaries and Protect Yourself

In order to begin focusing on truly loving yourself, you need to be mindful of your own needs. Stop focusing so much on what will make others happy and start focusing on what it is that is going to make YOU happy?

Remember that it is okay to say no to people when you don’t want to participate in something. People who truly care will understand, and the people in your life who get defensive when you turn them down are the kind you need to get rid of!

There are simply not enough hours in a day to waste on people who empty your bucket. I promise that you will love and respect yourself more in the long term if you tell these people to get lost (or maybe something a little nicer).

You will love yourself more when you set limits or say no to work, relationships, or activities that deplete you physically, emotionally and spiritually. Don’t worry about the fear that you are missing out on something great, you have the whole rest of your life to recreate the opportunity if you really want it.

2. Act on What You Need, Not What You Want

Next, I encourage you to take a moment to focus on what you are really thinking, how you are really feeling, and what it is you really want.

Are you frustrated with your job? Are you feeling like the relationships you have in your life are draining your energy? What are you going to need to do to change these circumstances?

While some solutions may seem tempting as a quick fix, they likely aren’t keeping you centred and focused on the path to making a change. Instant gratification can be tempting, but does not often yield long term benefits. By straying from these temptations, you will in turn set yourself up to change the automatic behaviours that have kept you stuck for so long.

3. Use the “It’s Already Over Mentality”

We have all made mistakes, said foolish things, or down right embarrassed ourselves in public. I’ve been there, and I know you have too! The difficult part about these times, is not letting these scenarios consume you. You need to quit replaying the scenarios in your head over and over thinking of the things you wish you had said or done.

Recognizing the negative self-talk is the hard part, but once you’ve gotten there and know you are doing it, correcting it is easy. THE SITUATION HAS ALREADY HAPPENED. Why obsess over something you can’t change or make different?

We can be so hard on ourselves. Cut yourself some slack, these lapses in judgement and decision making ability prove that we are actual humans; we are not perfect. Remind yourself it is over, and there will be another opportunity to prove to the world you are better than your mistakes. Just remember, always move forward.

4. Live With Intention

You will accept and love yourself more, no matter what is happening in your life, when you begin to live with purpose and design. Focus more on WHAT you want in your life, and worry less about HOW you are going to achieve that. Afford yourself the opportunity to dream big becase you deserve it! Whatever the path is you choose, make sure that your actions are helping you to get there.

Your purpose doesn’t have to be crystal clear, (in fact it rarely is)! However if you have a general idea of where you want to go in life, your decisions should support this intention. Think of how good you will feel about yourself when you are actually trying to achieve success. You will love yourself more if you see yourself accomplishing what you set out to do! You are capable of doing this.

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Self-love is about knowing and honoring your needs, wants and wishes. It’s about understanding youself, including your thoughts and feelings. It’s about being kind, compassionate, and forgiving with yourself. You are capable of self-love with the right mentality and focus.

In order to start living the life you want, you need to start with yourself.

How to Create Your Confidence

Confidence – a concept that is seemingly easy and natural for some, but a struggle for many.

While we some believe that confidence is an ability that you are born with, I like to think that over time it is an ability that has evolved and developed. From childhood to adulthood your confidence has taken hits – that person you thought liked you didn’t, you didn’t get the job for the interview you thought you aced, person x told you that person y was prettier and so on – over time particularly with the rise of social media, you have become hyper aware of the negative things about yourself that society is telling you, you need to change – Well, what if I told you that all of that is completely bogus, and that your confidence is in your control?

Each day you wake up you have a picture of yourself in your mind; some days are good, while other days are not so much.  Whether you realize it or not, that mental image is what determines the level of confidence you emit into the world. When you feel good about yourself, you radiate; when you don’t, you tend to hide away. The important key is to develop that awareness that can recognize you are never going to be stuck with where you are currently at forever. The action of being confident is in your control, practicing this alongside a few other simple tips is the first step to gaining and exuding the confidence you deserve.

As always, you can find the audio version of this post on iTunes, Google Play, or SoundCloud.

Take Control

The first step in taking the initiative to build your confidence is to recognize that your attitude is ultimately in your control. Once you come to realize and accept this as fact, you then need to take the steps to change it. Back in May I did a post about taking control in all aspects of your life [not just confidence], you can find that here.

By accepting that you are solely responsible for your own life and attitudes, you can work towards mastering the control you need to gain the confidence you seek. How you ask? Make the decision to be better for yourself, your mental state, and the overall outcomes of your life. You are in the driver seat deciding where you want to go. Take yourself on the path of positivity towards achieving all that you have ever wanted.

Practice Self Care

The next step I recommend is to treat yourself – if you feel good you people will be able to tell. I want you to think about times when you are eating bad, not sleeping properly, loafting around on the couch for hours or days, etc. and the impact those actions have on how you feel about yourself. There is nothing wrong with any of these scenarios, provided that you are willing to own it.

This is me. This is who I am. This is how I love to look/act/feel/behave

Remember, this is YOUR life not anyone else’s so forget other’s negative opinions and appreciate yourself in all of your glory. Think about what you have to offer the world, and encourage yourself to showcase it. You should never say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to someone else. Positive self-talk is integral to your success on your journey to radiating confidence.

Flip The Negativity

Throughout your life, as you have likely already concluded, people will intentionally try to tear you down. The reality of the matter is that in 99% of cases, this negativity is really just a projection of their own insecurities. So, rather than allowing it to affect you, perhaps take a moment to evaluate where they are at and coming from. Recognize that most likely what they are saying isn’t actually true.

What is it within you that they are envious of in you? Cherish that.

Disappointment is either going to fuel you or destroy, you get to choose. When something doesn’t go your way and is making you feel insecure do what you need to change it your mind.. what did I learn? What can I do next time to get what I want? By exuding the control in these situations you naturally begin to feel more confident in these decisions

Celebrate the Small Wins

Disappointment is either going to fuel you or destroy, you get to choose. When something doesn’t go your way and is making you feel insecure do what you need to change it your mind. What did you learn, and what can you do next time to get what you want? By exuding the control in these situations you naturally begin to feel more confident in these decisions. Rejection is hard at times and it can hurt  pretty bad. Sometimes it feels as though no matter what you will never be enough, but I can promise you that the more you try, the more opportunities you will find, and the more risks you take; the greater the rewards and the more confident you will feel.

We live in an anti-ego world, but its okay to be happy when you are succeeding. There is absolutely no shame in doing good. When you are proud of something you have done – own it – and do the same for others. Encouraging and recognizing each other for even the smallest things can have a much larger impact that you would expect.

I want you to think of something you are good at – music, telling jokes, lifting weights, cooking, doing makeup – whatever it is, hold on to it. Having confidence in one aspect of your life will provide the validation you need to try things outside your comfort zone and discover new areas in which you can grow your confidence.

Your story is not over yet, it is up to you. The more effort and practice you put into life and building your confidence the better results you will achieve.

 

How to Change Your Trajectory

Creating New Opportunities

As humans we are always constantly changing and desiring change. We envy others and always dream of ways in which our lives could be different. Maybe you aren’t satisfied with the circumstances you are in, or perhaps you are merely wanting to continue to grow and develop as your best possible self; either way, these 3 tips will aid you in that process.

The one path that will never get you anywhere different is the one we most commonly take and that is the path of doing nothing at all. You don’t have enough time to be mediocre in your life. It’s painful and it’s pointless so, if it is change you seek then it is change you must create. As always, the audio version of this post is available on iTunes, Google Play, or SoundCloud.

1. Determine Your Limitations

Stop for a minute and think to yourself about what it is exactly that is stopping you from getting what you want. It may be your job, your living situation, or your finances; all of which can make it hard for you to make drastic changes in your life. However, often it is yourself that serves as your biggest limitation. Self-doubt can be detrimental to our growth. Fear can be crippling, making us unable or unwilling to pursue unfamiliar and new opportunities.

Once you’ve taken the time to determine what factors are limiting you, figure out which of those are within your control. While some situations we cannot change (i.e. death in the family, a bad break up, etc), most instances have elements that we can adjust to suit our needs. We may not be able to change what has happened, but we can decide to move forward despite it.

Don’t allow your circumstances to let you fall back. Use the dark times to learn and always fall forward onto the next best thing.

2. Re-Evaluate Your Circumstances

If you are in a situation that is making you unhappy or unsatisfied, re-evaluate how you got there. Think about any elements or decisions you made along the way that were perhaps chosen because other options were overlooked. Look at what isn’t working, and what it is that you are not doing to determine what the void is that you need to fill.

Pursuing these unique opportunities is rare because it is scary and uncomfortable; the outcome is unknown. Few people are willing to pursue the unknown, and would rather stick with what is “safe” mainly for fear of rejection, judgement, or some other useless excuse. Forget the fear, and pursue whatever it is that is going to make you happy.

If you are unsure of where it is you need to start making changes, ASK SOMEONE. Being curious is the first step in personal growth. Curiousity is the desire to understand and to try and push the envelope – it is what drives change. Gain perspectives (new and old) and try to take away as many important lessons as possible that you can apply in your own life.

3. Get Uncomfortable

I can guarantee you that you won’t get anywhere new by practicing the same old strategies. Always going to the same places, working the same job, interacting with the same people, but expecting things to change/improve is not a realistic outlook on your situation. Results will not change if you do not alter the actions creating them.

If you don’t like something in your life, change it. If you want to try something new, just try it. Not only are you your own largest limitation, you are also the only one who can do anything about it.

Finding success is about making the decision to not do nothing. We have been brainwashed to think that doing nothing is safe, and once you realize that the safest thing you can do actually feels the most risky, the sky is the limit.

Have the courage to challenge the status quo, defy limitations, find your purpose, and serve it.

How to Find Your Own Happiness

Finding Happiness

Happiness.  Easy for some, elusive for many.  While many may disagree, I believe that you can make decisions which lead to overall happiness and contentment in life. It may not be easy; in fact at times it will be seemingly impossible, but by making the effort to monitor your thoughts and actions, and steer course towards a more balanced present, happiness can and will be achieved.

Taking time to reflect, and making conscious steps to make your life happier, really does work.

As always you can listen to the audio version on SoundCloud, iTunes, or Google Play.

1. Choose The Right Opportunities

For most, happiness is an achievement; the result of effort and intention – not a mere coincidence. Happiness in itself is not a decision, instead it is the result of the decision to pursue attitudes and behaviours that will result in happiness over unhappiness. The key to obtaining happiness is to put yourself into environments that increase your probability and to avoid those which are detrimental or draining on our already scarce resource.

2. Foster Forgiveness

Bitterness serves as an anchor; a catalyst for stagnation. Holding onto anger and grief has been proven time and time again to negatively affect our mental and physical well being. While simply saying “get over it” is easier said than done – learning to foster forgiveness towards that which we cannot control is integral to the process of moving onwards and upwards.

  1. Recall the hurt.
  2. Try to empathize with the perpetrator – why did they do what they did?
  3. Remember a time when you were granted forgiveness.
  4. Commit to the forgiveness – mentally or physically (i.e. write it down).
  5. Do not dwell not the hurt/anger, hold on to the forgiveness.

Mulling will not get you very far, this I can assure you. Let it go, move along, don’t let the actions of other control your happiness.

3. Fake It Until You Feel Better

While the principle of this seems silly – you are sad/upset/angry/hurt why pretend to be something you are not (i.e. happy)? The psychology behind this practice is proven.  Smiling alone can induce the feeling of happiness. All feelings are the result of actions, by acting happier your brain will begin to believe that you are actually happier.

4. Put Your Negativity In Check

Negativity will always be the default. It is easy to be negative, because positivity makes us uncomfortable.  Negative thoughts serve no real useful purpose and can directly contribute to negative emotions.  Negative thoughts leave us in a state of hopelessness, thinking we will never have enough, be enough, or find enough.

Given that negativity is the norm, it can be difficult to identify in ourselves when we have shifted into this state of mind. In order to learn how to change negative thoughts, you must first learn to recognize them. Start paying attention to your thought patterns; practice mindfulness. Pay attention to your present. Focusing too much on the past (what could have been) or the future (what may never come) is neither useful nor productive.

If you can catch these thoughts before they gain momentum, you will better be able to flip the problem into perspective and deal with it in a much more positive light.

5. Engage In Meaningful Activities

Think about how you have spent the last 24 hours.

Were you productive? Did you get something accomplished?

If no, how are you feeling?

If yes, I can bet you are feeling pretty good. Studies have shown that in order to get more [happiness] out of life, you have to put more into it. People are seldom happier than when they achieve a sense of flow in their lives; a state of mind in which you become absorbed in a meaningful task or challenge. While flow-inducing activities seldom come naturally, the reward far outweighs the investment. So determine something you wish to achieve and work for it. Reap the rewards of your efforts and feel truly happy.

Find your fuel. Ignite your fire. Chase your happiness. Great things will come.

How To Handle Rejection

Handling Rejection

So, you got rejected. It hurts right? Really sucks? Feels not so great? Jobs. Relationships. Everything else that got away. We have all been there. Rejection isn’t easy, but it certainly doesn’t have to be as difficult as we often make it out to be. The way in which you respond to it can determine your future. Are you going to allow it to hold you back, or will you utilize the chance to grow stronger, more resilient, and better prepared the next time?

As always, you can find the audio version of this post on iTunes, SoundCloud, or Google Play.

1. Reframe the Rejection

The easiest thing you can do when faced with rejection is to slip into the “I’m so stupid” mentality.  Approaching your defeat with this attitude is only going to hold you down. If you aren’t there to lift yourself up,  no one else will be either. It’s important in these times, to reaffirm the efforts you have made and remember, “I pushed myself to my limits”. By exercising this compassion you can begin to see the new possibilities provided by this misfortune.

2. Do Not Let It Define Your Limitations

A single case of rejection (or perhaps more than one) is not indicative of the end. Not getting the job you wanted, or being rejected by the one you ‘love’ does not discredit who you are as a person or the skills and attributes you have to offer the world. It is not the end.

Remember, one incident or individual is not reflective of all that you have and are.

3. Seek the Learning Opportunity

Rejection doesn’t have to be the end. In fact, rejection can serve as a humbling experience because it reminds you that you don’t know/have everything. With the right mindset, rejection can serve as an opportunity for motivation to do and be better.

Yes. You lost opportunity x or person y,  but what did you learn? What can you do differently next time? And what is it that you want?

Rejection is hard and it hurts, but it’s certainly not the end. Revaluate, appreciate, and always persevere.

How To Take Control of Your Life

CONTROL AND ACHIEVING RESPONSIBILITY

When was the last time you found yourself thinking about your current situation in life, and how making just one different decision in your past would’ve have changed the course of everything for the better? Perhaps if you had or had not of done that one thing, absolutely everything would be totally different. Maybe if you could have had more time, better support, or different resources things would have worked out how you wanted them to. These thoughts are destructive, and it’s finally time to stop and take control.

People tend to live as though their past controls their future, but this is only true if you allow it to be. Your memories of past events are biased, leaving you with feelings towards those situations that are distorted and often times, unresourceful. By learning to own the fact that you are in control of the decisions you have made and will make in your life, you are one step closer to achieving your desired outcomes.

As always the audio version of this post can be found on iTunes, Google Play, or SoundCloud.

1. Quit Passing the Blame and Let Go

All too often we don’t want to own up to the mistakes that we have made in the past. We blame other people, our previous circumstances, and our surroundings for not achieving the results we wanted. Not only is this tendency unattractive to others when trying to gain their support, but it also prevents us from altering our decision making process and impedes us from getting the results we want.

I want you to think of a time when something didn’t go your way. Did blaming someone/something else change that? Nope, definitely not. What can YOU do differently next time to alter your outcome?

We are in control of our own decisions. By learning to liberate ourselves from the decisions of the past (both our own and those of others) we can achieve so much more clarity on the path to being successful. Always reflect on what you have learned, and move forward knowing how you can be better. Do not worry about the others.

2. Learn to Accept and Take Care of Yourself

When you learn how to take 100% responsibility for things you want and the work you put into achieving them, you will begin to naturally attract the support of others without them being the ones in control.

We are all human, each respectively with our own flaws. By learning to accept our faults, and working towards being better each and every day we will find that the sense of control we feel in our day-to-day actions will naturally strengthen.

Continuously seek to develop traits that will aid in the process of getting what you want and nurture those characteristics as they develop. Reward yourself for your successes, but do not punish yourself for mis-steps; it is all part of the journey. In order to feel good you need to reassure yourself that you are doing good, so be sure to evaluate along the way and recognize your achievements – no matter how small.

3. Establish Your Priorities and Always Think Forward

If you feel like you are constantly at war with a never ending to-do list perhaps it is time to stop and assess how you got there. Don’t be afraid to turn away new opportunities that do not contribute to your overall end game. The end goal here is progress, if your actions are not contributing to your progress then why are you participating in them? Rid your time of useless activities.

Further to the idea that you should not waste your time on things not contributing to your overall success, it is important to recognize that you also aren’t going to do something you don’t believe is possible. If you tell yourself you can’t do something, then chances are you won’t. After all, why would you try to do something that your brain thinks you are incapable of doing? Prioritize your success, and work towards the end goal here. Think of the tools and actions you need to get there, and determine how you can and will get and do those things. Don’t be afraid to give it your all – even in unfamiliar territory.

Quit the “No’s” – Love Yourself – Strive Towards Success