As Thomas Jefferson once said, “If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.” This is why we make speeches, go to job interviews, pitch ideas, and even get down on one knee to propose to a loved one. Taking that leap can be scary, but it is absolutely imperative for growth and self-development. It is an essential part of finding fulfillment and happiness, too.
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When it comes to success, bravery can be just as important as ability and knowledge. You are at your most vulnerable in the moment right before you put yourself out there. This can be terrifying, electrifying, and possibly completely life-changing. Here are three things you can do before taking the leap to prepare yourself for success:
Anxiety can make us sweaty, shaky, faint, and even nauseous. These physical manifestations of our fears can trigger even more anxiety in our heads and hearts, creating a terrible negative feedback loop. We can mitigate this by preparing our bodies to handle stress well. If possible, work out the morning before your event. Take a hot, relaxing shower. Make sure that you are fully hydrated to avoid dizziness and prepare for the amount of sweat that might pour out (gross, but real). Make sure you eat a healthy and substantial meal so your blood sugar will be in check. Do some breathing exercises to slow your heart rate and calm your mind. Stand up straight and square your shoulders to project the idea of confidence from your body to your brain. These actions are simple, but their effect on your performance in this crucial time can be profound.
Talk to someone who has gone through this challenge. Chances are, they suffered the same nerves that you are struggling with. They might even have some tricks to help you through it. Hearing that your anxiety is normal can help to calm you and put the upcoming event in perspective. This person doesn’t even have to have found success in their endeavor – in fact, a story of failure might be even more valuable. Knowing that you can fall flat on your face and life will still go on can be very powerful. Either way, invite your newfound mentor to sit in the audience (if that works in your situation). Having an empathetic face to look to can be comforting and encouraging.
Embrace Your Imperfect Self
Imagine yourself fumbling – skipping a word, tripping on your way to the podium, or laughing in a silly, nervous way – and then absolutely nailing the rest of your speech. Preparing for hiccups, and even expecting them, can help us to gloss over these very human mistakes more gracefully should they actually arise. Remember when Jennifer Lawrence fell on her way to accept the Best Actress Oscar in 2013? Wasn’t it oddly sweet, and even charming? Your vulnerability is endearing, too. You just have to embrace it.
Take a deep breath, believe in yourself, and know who you are. Take the leap. Sink or swim, you will be glad you had the courage to go for it.