Real Talk About Small Talk 


Small Talk. If you don’t like it, you’re not alone. In fact, 92% of Americans say they feel uncomfortable during “small talk” conversations and try to avoid them. Just kidding, I made that statistic up but it’s believable, right? I have never met a single person who says they enjoy small talk and try to avoid networking and other situations that require it. 

Why? Because it is artificial. From the moment it begins, signature small talk feels like it puts a boundary and limitation around the potential of the conversation. People who like to communicate feel limited and unnatural and people who don’t like to communicate by nature feel forced and awkward.

 

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Ick! Boring, awkward and often pointless since it usually ends with no deeper connection and both parties departing feeling indifferent. Small talk is just the only way most of us learned how to connect with others around us. It was the only way we learned to “break the ice.”
But the truth is, we have been silently guided by our society to never go “too deep too soon” or be obvious in our quest to connect with the community around us. Because “Hi, I feel like talking to you right now,” “I need more friends,” or “Hello, you look nice and I long for human interaction” would come across as overly needy and flat out strange.
So what can we do? Lets use our awareness on this issue and activate our communication skills to turn the dreaded small talk into small acts of kindness.
Lets think about this for a moment. What is the goal? If the goal is to connect, to begin something new or just to pass the time together in a more positive and less awkward way, why not use that time to make each other feel better and happier?
People communicate to make connections with other people. To feel good. Feel Important. Needed. Noticed.
Next time, try to ditch the small talk and use one of these ideas below. Notice how you feel. Does the person react differently to you? Does the conversation elevate? Do you feel better or worse? Was it more or less comfortable?
As with anything new, practice is important. So play around with this and try it often. After some initial adjustments, you will find yourself feeling more confident and comfortable in any surrounding, sans small talk!

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 A genuine compliment is so easy to give and yet we rarely do it. It makes other people feel amazing just hearing a few nice words, especially when they least expect it. You can compliment someone on their looks or something they have. But you can also compliment someone on how they behave.

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Now as a caution, this can backfire if your compliments are not appropriate for your environment. Complimenting someone is not the same as flirtation.
The goal is to make someone else feel good, not uncomfortable.

 
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 People like to feel needed, helpful and appreciated. While sometimes you really need to ask someone a question, this can also be a communication method to help break the ice.
Also, many people enjoy talking about themselves, so asking them a question or follow-up question and practicing your listening skills is a great way to come off as an expert communicator.

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If you don’t know what questions to ask, you can always work on generic follow-up questions that help open up a conversation deeper. The goal is to ask something that is open-ended and makes the other person engage a bit more.
The key with this is knowing when to stop. Asking too many questions can make people shy away or close up. Asking one or two open-ended questions that make people feel interesting and valued is perfect.
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Hold a door open, hand someone them a straw or a napkin. Let someone running late or with children cut in line ahead of you while in a long line. Small random acts of kindness are rare these days and really makes you stand out as a good, generous and kind person — with almost no effort.
Plus, you never know who you might bump into or connect with. Offering something simple to another person could open the door to a business card, new dream job or relationship!
Again, appropriateness is key. Offer to hold the door open at the store or coffee shop, not their apartment.
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 Non verbal communication is 90% of what you communicate to others. It is amazing how often we skip an opportunity to connect with other people around us.
We keep our heads down, don’t smile or connect with eye contact. Some of this is a learned behavior to stay safe from strangers when vulnerable, but it was not intended to be the norm. Mobile and electronic devices contribute heavily to this issue, but it’s also just become a bad habit. But more important to be aware of, it may be that you keep from making eye contact and smiling at others because you don’t want to be seen. Because you fear being noticed or, circling back to the initial topic, dislike small talk and awkward beginnings.

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Just try it again. Smile. Light up your face. Connect with eye contact and confidently say “Hi” or “Hello, have a great day!” You will be surprised how good it feels to do this and how positively others respond to it and to you. Because fundamentally, people do crave connections and communication more deeply than they realize.
Today, many signals get mixed up. Social media provides an artificial social scene providing attention, but minimal connection. Someone who may be craving a feeling connection and validation may instead seek a new relationship or sexual experience, when all they really needed was a compliment or to be noticed.
Just as we can mistake thirst for hunger, we can confuse our very normal inner desire to connect with others as loneliness or isolation. Affirm today that you want to contribute to a better community and work on turning boring small talk into small acts of kindness to make someone’s day!

By Katya Juliet Buzzword Consulting

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Forgiveness 101

By Katya Juliet

I wish Forgiveness 101 was a class taught in grade schools and high schools everywhere. We are so impressionable at those young ages and experience so many hurtful moments between friends. When you are not prepared to handle conflict and resolution, budding relationships full of passion and emotion can leave emotional scars and bruises for many years to come, thus affecting adult interactions and forming communication habits for better or for worse.

With the many close relationship we will encounter over the course of our lives, conflict is inevitable. But, while it takes two people (egos) to fight, it only takes one to forgive.

Forgiveness can be a natural tendency for some, but it is also a developed communication skill. For some relational behaviors, you can try to “fake it till you make it,” when you need to just get through a rough patch or situation. However, with forgiveness, it is a different story. If you say you forgive someone without genuinely doing so completely, unfortunately, you are the person who suffers.

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Forgiveness is often hard to do because of feeling like we give the other person power; asserting they were somehow right or helping them to feel better and not ourselves. Countless times I have heard friends complain they wish the other person, just once, would apologize and forgive them first. But instead, feel like they always have to be the one to initiate the process.

However, apologizing and forgiving are two very different things often lumped together in one broader category of conflict resolution. So, lets sort them out a little.

Within the textbook Close Encounters, Apologies are defined as “admissions of responsibility and regret for undesirable events.” (45, Communicating Identity: The Social Self) In other words, taking responsibility for a behavior and not avoiding the consequence of your actions.

Generally, when you apologize, it is you who has done something of harm to another, whether it was physical or emotional. When you are unwilling to apologize for your actions, you leave the relationship in a state of distress and the only option other than destruction is for the other person to be willing to forgive you. When neither takes place, a cycle of denial and avoidance will inevitably become a force for further conflict.

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Forgiveness can be defined as “a relational process” and not one single act like an apology. Forgiveness can be something one does for himself or herself or another person, but it is generally in dealing with harmful behavior done by someone other than you. The process of forgiveness is comprised of four different characteristics: acknowledgment of harmful conduct, an extension of undeserved mercy, an emotional transformation and relationship renegotiation. (322, Hurting the ones we love: Relational transgressions)

4 Characteristics of Forgiveness

Harmful Conduct: “For forgiveness to even be necessary, one or both partners must acknowledge that there has been a wrongdoing.”

Note that behavior that may be okay in one relationship may require forgiveness in another. Not all relationships are the same.

Extension of Undeserved Mercy: “The hurt person must make the decision to extend mercy to the partner. There is a paradoxical quality to forgiveness as the forgiver gives up the resentment, to which he or she has a right, and gives the gift of compassion, to which the offender has no right.”

This starts with saying “I forgive you,” (explicit forgiveness in its clearest form) but simply saying it is not enough. That is where the next two characteristics of forgiveness come in.

Emotional Transformation: “Forgiveness involves an emotion transformation that allows hurt individuals to let go of negative feelings.”

A normal reaction to being hurt is to seek revenge, restitution or avoidance, which can lead to ending a relationship. But in order to forgive you move beyond that impulse, in essence, letting that desire fully dissolve and instead act with positivity and compassion towards yourself and the other person. This could be summed up as “killing with kindness” or “taking the higher road.”

It is important to notice that when we don’t allow this third step of emotional transformation to occur, we are not hurting the other person back. It is truly ourselves who  suffer the most. Forgiveness is an act of setting yourself free from the continued emotional burden.

Relationship Renegotiation: “Forgiveness entails renegotiating the nature of one’s relationship, including rules and expectations for future behavior.” There was a study here that found around “28% of participants indicated that the relationship had returned to ‘normal,’ after forgiveness was granted, around 36% reported their relationship had deteriorated and around 32% strengthened. Thus, forgiveness does not guarantee reconciliation.”

It is here we find the power and importance of the renegotiation process and desire to do so by both or all individuals involved. If the newly negotiated areas of the relationship are not sufficient or one person is unwilling to move forward, the relationship will continue to struggle.

Connected to the renegotiation process is also how one communicates in the aftermath of conflict.

From an interpersonal communication perspective, active listening is just as important (if not more) as effectively communicating your own feelings and your non-verbal behaviors play a role in the process and outcome as well.

During conflict, a tendency is to focus more so on what you are trying to say – the point you are trying to prove in order to be right – rather than to communicate for the purpose of resolution and listen, in order to really understand what the other person is attempting to convey.

If we learn to be better active listeners, we may realize that there are common grounds we agree upon, more so than disagree. Also, it may give you the ability to “walk in their shoes,” if only for a moment, to best understand why they may feel as they do.

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Extending forgiveness non-verbally can be in the form of positive facial expressions, offering a smile, a hug or nodding that you understand and have compassion in the moment. Also, if we lack awareness of our facial expressions and bodily gestures, it can translate as aggression and cause even more conflict to occur.

It has been found throughout various research studies, that colors, sounds and lighting can affect moods and therefore, effect interactions. These are elements which we often have control over, so it may be worth evaluating your environment to see if initial mood and positive energy can be improved prior to conflict initiating all together.

Relationships are a process of give and take. Trying to be right all the time can be detrimental and thinking there is a right and wrong can set couples off track fast. Sometimes, the best resolution is a blend of ideas that come out of tension and initial conflict. Take the time to communicate and try not to give up in moments of fluster and frustration.

Conflict can play a positive role if you let it help you boost your communication effectiveness and propel your relationship to new heights. Just like failures along the road to success, conflict can aid as a new birth for discussing greater ways to live in harmony through the process of renegotiation and in better understanding the people you love the most.

Thank you for following and sharing iflourish.

blackBLOGO-coral-grey-beigeFor additional support or consulting services, feel free to contact Katya Juliet through her business website, Buzzword-Consulting. Buzzword Consulting offers affordable digital marketing services, consulting, copywriting & PR for small businesses, start-ups, entrepreneurs & non-profit Organizations. Get people Buzzing About Your Business!

Invite The Power of Yes Back Into Your Life

By Katya Juliet

Did you know?

According to the research cited in the book What To Say When You Talk To Yourself, by Dr. Shad Helmstetter, the average person – living in a reasonably positive home – has been told “no” an average of 148,000 times or more by the time they turn 18 years old.

Dr. Helmstetter refers to this as our initial “negative programming” and it contributes to how we learn to talk to ourselves throughout the course of our lives.

While that number may be higher or lower for some, it is an overwhelming amount to hear. Especially when the number of “yes” or “yes you can’s” that we hear over the same amount of time are only clocking in within the several hundred range.

Clearly, there is a tremendous imbalance at play and one that can only begin to be reconciled with conscious, positive, productive self-talk and affirmations.

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Have you ever considered how much more you could have accomplished had you been fueled with extra “yes, you can do it” and “I believe in you” statements from the people you depend on the most?

How much more confident might we be with the opposite ratio of yes’s dominating no’s?

Leading research in behavior and psychology tells us that close to 77% of what we think about is working against us – negative, counterproductive and potentially holding us back from many of the things we wish to accomplish in our daily lives.

On top of self-talk, our relationships can produce similar ratios of negative/positive interaction – thus, continuing this vicious cycle.

Poor communication and negative communication both contribute to the destruction of potentially healthy relationships. According to the text on “Ending Relationships” within the book Close Encounters, relationships can breakdown when they fall victim to the following bad habits: speaking too much, using low-quality communication, negative talk tracks or words and communication that centers around only one of the two individuals involved.

Close Encounters also highlights something in interpersonal communication called The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, which details the methods or patterns within relationships of destruction and conflict. Avoiding these communication pitfalls, as well as simply becoming aware of them in the first place, can significantly help your chances of resolving issues within your relationships. The following lists the four horseman, in order, from initial conflict to most severe.

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The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypses:

  1. Complaining/Criticizing. Example: “You are so rude! So need to be quiet in the morning so I can sleep!”
  2. Contempt/Disgust. Example: “Don’t be ridiculous! I was hardly making any noise. You’re just being overly sensitive.”
  3. Defensiveness. Example: “You don’t care about me at all. I’m not ridiculous, you are. No one should have to put up with this.
  4. Stonewalling. Example: “I don’t want to talk about this anymore. It’s a no-win situation. Leave me alone.”

As you can see, it starts with complaining and criticizing and can be a very slippery slope from there. The examples above give you a flavor of what they may look like within an interpersonal conflict, however, in many cases, the conversations can be a lot worse that those – people say some pretty mean and hurtful things to one another, without even being aware of it.

Note, that even when there is a struggle with negative communication within a given relationship, the fact that they are still engaging in communication is actually a good sign. When a relationship defaults to stonewalling or avoidance, generally, there is an end in sight.

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In one of my classes at UC Davis, I recall discussing that it can take as many as 20 positives or compliments to offset just 1 or 2 negatives or criticisms. In my personal opinion, its probably not worth criticizing someone in the first place if only you knew how much work it would take to make up for it with your partner later -psychologically and emotionally.

Take a moment to reflect on how you interact with others in your close relationships. Are you guilty of using any of these communication conflict patterns? If so, the good news is – you can stop! And, if it is your partner doing most of the criticizing, you can still control your own reactions and responses.

So, how to we reprogram ourselves and invite the power of yes back into our lives?

It starts with attempting to turn the negative “default” programming within our minds to a more positive programming. Positive self-talk, daily affirmations and simply saying and repeating the word YES is a great beginning.

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Next, try to find ways to incorporate more positive messages into your personal environment. I absolutely love the artwork and pillows from Kate Daisy’s Etsy Store. Order a few of these and place in conspicuous spots around your home.

If you are on a budget, you could also try to make your own or even save one of these online images as a screen saver on your mobile phone or computer right now. (Free and only takes a few seconds!)

Another idea is to listen to positive music or love songs with the conscious thought that those lyrics are about YOU. Similarly, avoid negative or degrading music and lyrics that may be furthering the negative programming on a subconscious level.

Finally, stick with the basics of using “I statements” in your relationships and with your self-talk. “I feel…” is a better lead than “ You always…” Use more of your Emotional Vocabulary and share how you feel before blaming another person.

Last but not least – treat yourself with kindness, just as you would a dear friend. When you hear yourself use negative and hurtful words about yourself, slow down and make a conscious effort to stop. Seek more constructive ways of coping with the situation or simply default to a big, hearty “YES YOU CAN!”

The power of yes is within each one of us and this new programming is free! We just need to prioritize the process and start the transition…How about right now?

Thank you for following and sharing iflourish.

blackBLOGO-coral-grey-beigeFor additional support or consulting services, feel free to contact Katya Juliet through her business website, Buzzword-Consulting. Buzzword Consulting offers affordable digital marketing services, communication consulting, copywriting, PR & Social Media Management for small businesses, start-ups, entrepreneurs & non-profit Organizations.

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Do Your Relationships Need A Little Feng Shui?

By Katya Juliet

We know every relationship requires positive energy and mutual efforts in order to stay healthy. But what if, regardless of all your effort and energy, your relationships at home or work were still being negatively impacted just because your interior decorating skills? No, I’m not suggesting you go out and completely remodel your home. But do consider how your environment is laid out and what affects could be at play.

Within the realm of interpersonal relationships and communication, there is something called Microenvironmental Features, which generally states that the environment around you has specific subtle effects on levels of personal attraction and the liking of others. Everything from the color of the walls and lighting to the materials and facing-direction of your furniture can cause your relationship to further unite or even polarize.

Communication research within the book Close Encounters (3rd edition, Guerrero, Anderson and Afifi) states “Environments that encourage interaction by providing a cozy atmosphere can promote attraction. Environments that put people face-to-face in close proximity can also enhance attraction. And the emotions people experience due to the environment can also be related to attraction.”

Part of what contributes to this is something called The Reinforcement Affect Model. This is where the environment itself is producing the subtle positive emotions that transfer to those interacting within that environment. Specifically, “people unconsciously associate the feelings they experience in a particular environment with the individuals who are a part of that environment.” (Close Encounters, p.71)

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Consider the world of dating. If you feel extremely uncomfortable in your environment, would you be more or less likely to open up and share personal information or even a first kiss? Most likely, not. Comfort, emotions and levels of attractiveness come hand in hand. So, if you entered an environment on a first or second date that felt cozy, inviting and even exciting, the likeliness of a third, fourth or fifth date just got a lot higher.

Now consider this same concept but in your home with your partner or even at work with your coworkers. Both of these environments are ones in which we become so used to, the mere routine of it all can give the impression it is not having any effect on your life or relationships at all. But research now indicates that all those microenvironmental features, when done correctly, can substantially help the feelings of attraction and liking and therefore, contribute to a happier and more fulfilling relationship.

So, what should you do with this information? Take a look around. Notice the emotions and feelings you have while inside your home or office. Are they positive, negative or neutral? Could they be enhanced?

Next, consider the state of your relationships with those around you. When it comes to your shared environment:

  • Is your living environment set up so that you and your partner constantly face opposite directions and are located at great distances apart? Or is eye contact and even the “accidental” brushing against one another when passing in the hall happening relatively frequently?
  • Does your company sit in an isolated area or in a central location?
  • Do you keep your curtains and windows open or closed?
  • Are the doors to different rooms constantly closed? Are there certain rooms in your home kept private, away from your partner?

The list could go on and on. The point is, reflect. Pay attention. Pinpoint your emotions as you move from room to room. See if the environment in which you spend most of your time is helping or hindering the development of your relationships. It is true that people feel fonder to those who they find attractive. So, if just a few small tweaks of your living room can help the feelings of positivity and attractiveness flow… I say, go for it.

Thank you for following and sharing iflourish.

blackBLOGO-coral-grey-beigeFor additional support or consulting services, feel free to contact Katya Juliet through her business website, Buzzword-Consulting. Buzzword Consulting offers affordable digital marketing services, communication consulting, copywriting, PR & Social Media Management for small businesses, start-ups, entrepreneurs & non-profit Organizations. 

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EXTRA: Not related to the interpersonal communication element directly, but I have also heard great things about Color Therapy, in where the colors themselves are doing the communication. Incorporating this concept as well could help as you consider changing a few things around within your home or office environment. Here is an intro link to this form another blog titled Art Therapy, as well as a few images just in case you find this topic interesting.)

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Colorful Communication: Extending Your Emotional Vocabulary

By Katya Juliet

Last week I shared an introduction on neuroplasticity and how it relates to communication based off the work of Dr. Shad Hemstetter. Today, I wanted to follow-up with something semi-related: why words have the ability to change, help or hurt us so deeply.

You know how the saying goes:

“Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

Unfortunately, this is not the case and words we both say and hear can be extremely powerful triggers of emotion that can either help or hurt us in a single moment and repeatedly over time.

Words have been learned and wired in our brain and designed to trigger both emotions and previous experiences. When we hear a certain word or feedback that feels critical or hurtful, our brains reference from knowledge about that word as well as any past experiences we may have had with those words. Words have real world definitions, yes. But more importantly, they have personal meanings and definitions from which we cannot escape.

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From a neurological perspective, if we tend to repeat things back to ourselves over and over on a subconscious level in our brain, we are already feeling the effects of those words hundreds of thousands of times over. Additionally, our understanding of those words may be interpreted differently than intended by the speaker. These are some of the reasons why people begin to argue in relationships. When they misinterpret information exchanged, it could be tone or context related, but many times it can be because that individual receiving the words in feedback form has had a previous experience with those words and decided that they are either positive or negative and reacts accordingly.

Words are also used differently in different cultures. Just as social norms vary, different cultures say things in ways that may feel critical or threatening to another and therefore, it is important to be as clear and precise in pinpointing what you are really trying to say as often as you can.

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The best way to start learning how to communicate with clarity and proper intention is to widen your emotional vocabulary. In general, if you think of words as crayons and communication as art – we are limiting what we can draw by only using a few colors out of our complete crayon box.

For example, when two people in a relationship are arguing, they may use common phrases like “I feel angry, hurt or sad.” But those are actually very broad umbrella words that often don’t even begin to scratch the surface of the emotion you are truly feeling at that moment. If you dig deeper – and use more colors – you realize that you are not actually feeling angry and sad, but rather rejected and afraid.

The more emotional vocabulary words you begin to use, the better you can communicate out with others and receive feedback without feeling the need to respond defensively. By using more of the colors in your crayon box, it can cause you in turn to ask others to also use more of theirs. Together, you may get to the root cause of your issue faster.

The idea is to grow and evolve in your relationships along with your emotional vocabulary and have a better understanding of yourself and feelings along the way. If you can communicate more clearly and more often, you may be able to stop future arguments all together and save relationships from eventual deterioration.

There are many resources available online to improve and extend your emotional vocabulary. To get started, here is one link for an example of how to learn more emotional vocabulary. Begin using them in your relationship discussions for better clarity and faster resolution right away and see if it makes a positive difference for you!

Thank you for following and sharing iflourish!

blackBLOGO-coral-grey-beigeFor additional support or consulting services, feel free to contact Katya Juliet through her business website, Buzzword-Consulting. Buzzword Consulting offers affordable digital marketing services, communication consulting, copywriting, PR & Social Media Management for small businesses, start-ups, entrepreneurs & non-profit Organizations. 

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Wake Up Tomorrow Stronger And Closer To Your Goals

By Katya Juliet

I absolutely loved this and had to share.

Recently, I have been writing about positive self-talk as a base to communicate and build stronger relationships with others. That includes relationships in the professional world. In business, we know just how important a skill it is to build lasting networking relationships that will help grow and evolve our businesses most effectively. To do this takes focus and dedication. I feel the article I am about to share with you is a great resource for anyone who is looking to refocus, rebalance and officially make positive progress within his or her busy professional lives.

How To Transform Your Life in 6 Minutes a Day, by Hal Elrod, was featured on Entrepreneur.com on 10/3/14. This article walks you through a wonderful new way to start your day, while getting in some of the most positive, self-affirming and personal development best practices out there today.

Click on the link to view entire article and detailed instructions. Here is an excerpt and overview of Elrod’s acronym “SAVERS”:

How To Transform Your Life in 6 Minutes a Day

But who has time for that, right? Luckily, there is a method to do it in as little as six minutes a day. Enter the life SAVERS, a sequence that combines the six most effective personal development practices known to man. While someone could invest hours on these practices, it only takes one minute for each — or six minutes total — to see extraordinary results. Just imagine if the first six minutes of every morning began like this:

  • Minute 1: S is for silence.

  • Minute 2: A is for Affirmations.

  • Minute 3. V is for visualization.

  • Minute 4. E is for exercise.

  • Minute 5. R is for reading.

Although we do see these same methods promoted by others, most of them emphasize putting in at least 30 minutes of journaling or reading at night, for example. Which is just a constant struggle for many of us as entrepreneurs, parents, and professionals because of the time element alone. The 30 minute + methods can be risky for two reasons. First, if we are unable to find that suggested amount of uninterrupted time, it can be easy to give up on self-improvement techniques and second, even the added stress of feeling like you have failed to accomplish one more thing can send one spiraling down a less productive or stagnant path. Don’t let that be you.

This 6 minute wake up routine may be the best way to finally transform your busy life and transcend your personal development. Want to wake up every day feeling stronger and closer to your goals? Take a look and see if this might be right for you!

Hal

 

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How To Transform Your Life in 6 Minutes a Day

Thank you for following and sharing iflourish. Have a beautiful day!

 

 

blackBLOGO-coral-grey-beigeFor additional support or consulting services, feel free to contact Katya Juliet through her business website, Buzzword-Consulting. Buzzword Consulting offers affordable digital marketing services, communication consulting, copywriting, PR & Social Media Management for small businesses, start-ups, entrepreneurs & non-profit Organizations. 

Get people Buzzing About Your Business!