56 Secrets Life Coaches Won’t Tell You for Free

There is no one secret to life but there sure are a bunch of smaller secrets that can help you have better relationships, be a better worker, and reach your life goals

You're not reaching your goal because you didn't actually make one

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"When you get crystal clear about where you are going on a project, in your career, or in your life, each decision you make will get you closer to or further from that vision. If you are struggling with big decisions it may be because you don't have your destination clearly identified." —Alexis Robin, co-founder of pLink Coaching Center

Switch your default setting from critical to curious

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"When a situation arises that you're unsure of, instead of defaulting to feeling critical, try to be curious. For example, if someone brings up an idea you shared a year ago like it is a new instead of saying, 'I said that last year and you shot it down,' try 'That sounds a lot like what I brought up last year. Can you help me understand how this idea is different?' It's a small change but can make a big difference in your attitude." —Alexis Robin

Stop trying to be good at everything

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"People have strengths, and that's where they should focus their energy. As clients move up the ladder at work, they sometimes take on a false belief that they should be good at everything. This results in them spending a lot of time on things they aren't good at, when they could delegate it instead. Trust me, you do not want a charismatic and visionary CEO doing the spreadsheets." —Alexis Robin

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Your body is speaking but you're not listening

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"To figure out what's working in your life and what's not, start to pay attention to your body. What tasks do you consistently dread? What feels like a struggle for you? What makes your gut feel tight and heavy? What makes you feel worn down and miserable? This information from your body is telling you what you need less of. Think about ways you can reduce the amount of time you spend on things you dread. On the flip side, also notice what makes your heart sing. Which tasks do you enjoy? Which things leave you with a feeling of satisfaction afterward (even if the task itself isn't fun)? What comes easily to you or gives you a feeling of flow? These are the things to get more of in your life. Few people are able to arrange their lives so they have only enjoyable and satisfying responsibilities. But anyone can, over time, shift the balance so that more and more of your day is filled with what makes you feel good. That's what makes for a happy life." —Jill Whitney, LMFT, therapist and author of Keep The Talk Going

Stop 'should-ing' yourself

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"Anytime you start a sentence with 'I should,' change it to 'I want.' This changes your intention and makes you more likely to follow through. So instead of 'I should go to the gym tonight,' say 'I want to go to the gym tonight' and see how different that feels." —Roger Ziegler, certified life coach

Don't ignore your nighttime dreams

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"You can use your dreams as a life guide. Ask yourself a question before you go to bed then when you wake up, record your answer. You'll be amazed at what your mind is trying to tell you as you sleep." —Roger Ziegler (Here's more about what your dreams are trying to tell you.)

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You're suffering? Good.

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"Whether it's for financial, spiritual, physical, or mental success, my first tip to my clients is to build a positive relationship with suffering. I have had clients that have struggled with PTSD, anxiety, depression, stress, and fear and they're usually surprised when the first thing I tell them is 'Great!' The point is not to get rid of any of these as they are not 'bad' emotions despite what we have been led to believe. Instead, embrace them, harness them, and leverage them to work for you." —Akshay Nanavati, life coach, author, and creator of Fearvana

If you're stuck, pushing harder won't make you move faster

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"If you're stuck on something in your life, take a break from it and learn a brand new hobby or skill. This takes the focus off being stuck, builds confidence and energy around something else entirely, gets your endorphins going, and boosts your serotonin. Eventually this will make it easier to naturally get unstuck in the original problem." —Lisa Barrington, certified coach and workplace strategist

You're the one limiting your options

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"I've seen too many people who think that in a given situation they must choose between 'a' or 'b' and get upset when neither of those things are what they want. But in reality, the world offers unlimited options. You're the one limiting yourself." —Lisa Barrington

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You don't have to be as busy as you are

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"Many people feel controlled by their schedule so I ask clients who are feeling overwhelmed or out of balance to take at least half of what on their plate off of it. Get as creative as you need to in order to make that happen. Initially, most people think they can't do it. But the truth is you can—and most do when they really try. Once you have the space to reevaluate, be very deliberate about what goes back on the plate and which value or goal that is meeting." —Sally Anne Giedrys, life and work reinvention coach based in Portland, Oregon (Here's what successful people do every weekend.)

What, exactly, are you so afraid of?

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"A high percentage of clients I work with operate out of fear of what might happen rather than faith in what could happen. A lot of this stems from trying to live someone else's dream or vision for them. Being faith-driven means discovering who you are at your core and then embracing your identity, purpose, and passion. Tuning out your fears and focusing on this will ultimately drive you forward toward achieving a successful outcome." —Guy Hatcher: Legacy Guy CFP®

Be realistic about bad things

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"Never say never. It limits you for good things to happen and makes the hard things worse, because you swore it would never happen to you. For example, if you say you'll 'never' get divorced, fail a class, or get fired then when one of these totally normal life things happens to you, you feel even worse because you had convinced yourself you were immune." —Joanne Dennison, MSEd, CMP, the 'guidance counselor for grownups'

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Your friends kinda want you to fail

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"A major mistake I see people making is listening to the opinions of the majority of people around them. Most people don't like change so they want you to stay the person you are now. Even if this isn't the best path for you, it makes them more comfortable." —Joanne Dennison

You're not a one-man show

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"Many people think that to be successful they can and should do it all alone. But no one succeeds in a vacuum. It's key to find supporters who can help you like a mentor, a spouse, a business partner, or a life coach. The beauty of the coaching relationship is that it's very direct and clean, with only one agenda: helping the client achieve his or her goals." —Joanne Dennison

Stop giving yourself away for free

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"Talents, things that are often easy for us, we don't value highly enough. When we're doing something we enjoy we often feel guilty about charging for it or give it away too freely. But your talent is your job and appreciating yourself is vital to having integrity, so be grateful for and accept payment." —Edward Vilga

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Don't repeat the past—if it had worked the first time you wouldn't be here

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"I see my clients getting in their own way by repeating their history. For instance, when dating, I see them pick similar people and then continually feel disenchanted when these relationships fail. It sounds basic but it's a fundamental truth: In order to have something different, we must do something differently." —Nina Rubin, MA, gestalt life coach and author of Beyond Defeat

Stop making up stories

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"Be aware of when you make assumptions. It's so easy for us to make up stories about what other people think of us, how a situation might turn out, or what we're really capable of. When we start to believe these stories we end up keeping ourselves small, develop unnecessary fears and become very judgmental. Try and catch yourself when you make assumptions and ask yourself what proof you have that this is even true." —Sharon Stokes, life fulfillment coach and creator of The Life Map

Keep me a secret

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"Sometimes clients will choose to share with others that they are on a personal development journey and working with a coach. This is great if they share that news with the right people who can serve as support for them. However, sharing with the wrong people when they're first getting comfortable with it themselves can throw them off their game. People can negatively affect your drive and desire when they have opposing thoughts and feelings. Keep it to yourself at first." —Sharon Stokes

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Procrastination is your worst enemy

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"When you don't feel like doing something you know you should do, such as getting up and hitting the gym, start working on a project, or doing your weekly planning, try the five-minute rule. You agree to do the activity for five minutes and if after five minutes you still aren't feeling it, you can decide to stop. You have to be serious and give yourself full permission to stop, but the reality is that 95 out of 100 times you'll find that you can and do want to keep going." —Chris Friesen, PhD, clinical psychologist, director of Friesen Sport & Performance Psychology and author of ACHIEVE: Find Out Who You Are, What You Really Want, & How To Make It Happen

Your feelings matter a lot less than you think

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"One mistake I often see people making is making decisions based on their urges, moods, energy levels, inspiration, or other immediate circumstances. But people who are successful recognize that you have to do the work no matter what you're actually feeling. It doesn't matter if you feel energized or inspired, all that matters is you do it. The biggest difference between those who achieve their goals and those who don't is that the achievers don't allow their feelings or circumstances dictate their actions. Instead, they decide what to do based on their deepest values, purpose, and goals—and then do the work regardless." —Chris Friesen

Don't fall into the self-confidence trap

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"It turns out that real confidence and positive thinking tend to come after you take action, not before. Our brains aren't easily convinced by our attempts to convince them, but they quickly learn from experience. So you can tell yourself until you're blue in the face that there is no reason to feel anxious about your ability to run that series of workshops in front of hundreds of people or that you're good enough to start competing at a higher level within your sport. The reality is the fastest way to increase your confidence in your abilities is to do it and then pay attention to the results. Our brains easily forget arguments but not experiences. —Chris Friesen

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I can't do this for you

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"Sometimes clients engage in a type of magical thinking, expecting that all they need to do is hire a life coach and that I'm going to do all the work for them. Then when results are slow, the clients quit or blame me for their failure or lack of progress. You're going to have to work and work hard." —Narelle A. Sheehan of Creative Power Coaching

You'll never be perfect. Get over it.

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"I see many of my clients letting the ideal of perfection stop them from moving forward. They think 'perfect' is attainable and anything less is 'wrong' or 'broken.' But there's no such thing as perfect, and the sooner you accept that, the sooner you can start moving forward in starting a new career, finding love, or cleaning up your diet." —Daisy Wong, life coach, yoga and mediation teacher

Believe in yourself or no one else will

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"You need to accept the truth that the amazing and wonderful version of yourself you wish for is actually possible. This might sound simple or trivial but one of the most difficult things for us to do is to believe that we can become this greater version of ourselves. Helping clients become comfortable and then convinced that this amazing growth in wealth, success, love, employment, or happiness might be possible is the first step as it breaks the paradigm of negativity that we often live in. You're not too old, it's not too late, and you will make it." —Kellan Fluckiger, life coach, CPC, High Performance Grand Master

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Everything depends on your morning ritual so make it a good one

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"Most people have a haphazard start to their day. They have no idea what to do in the morning except get out of bed, grab a coffee, do the minimum essentials and barely make it to work. This guarantees a weak start to every single day. It is much more effective to design a ritual that builds your physical health, your spiritual well-being, your energy, your attitude, and your self-love as you start the day. A powerful morning ritual makes everything else you do that day easier. Start with some physical activity to wake up the body then do some spiritual or meditation practice, followed by building a relationship with someone important in your field, and finally doing something to stimulate your mind. This might seem immensely time-consuming, but a well-crafted morning ritual need not take more than 45 minutes and that investment will pay you rich dividends all day." —Kellan Fluckiger

Practice being alone

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"I often give clients homework to do things by themselves. For example, I tell them to go to the movies, out to dinner, or to the theater alone. It's very empowering to feel comfortable in the company of your 'self.' When you are, it opens up many opportunities of things to do that heretofore you would have felt were shut off to you because you didn't have a partner to engage with in them. If you're your own best friend the options are limitless." —Jennifer Guttman, PhD, psychologist and behaviorist

Competing makes you a loser

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"Comparing ourselves to others as a means to evaluate our success is competitive and one of the biggest mistakes I see people making. Instead of competing with others, look at ambition. Ambition is being the best you can be without paying any mind to the success or failures of others around you. The focus is on what you can do to push yourself for you, not to push yourself to be better then the next guy. This is a much healthier and more adaptive way to approach pursuing life goals." —Jennifer Guttman

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Stop playing the victim

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"A large part of success is finding meaning in pain and not feeling like a victim of one's fate. It comes from overcoming your suffering by reaching out and helping others." —Carol Knox, mindfulness and life coach

Someone has to be fabulous; it might as well be you

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"Don't count yourself out before you've even started. People live dynamic, fulfilling, radically purposeful lives every single day. Why shouldn't you be one of them?" Chanel Dokun, Founder of LifePlan NYC

Never say "someday"

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"A major mistake people make is in failing to schedule their goals. Unless your tasks are connected to a specific time frame, they rarely get done. Most people miss out on executing their life plan by keeping their ambition in the abstract." —Chanel Dokun

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Stress has to come out somehow so make it a positive outlet

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"Everyone gets stressed out but some people turn their stress toward something negative, like substance abuse, overeating, or lashing out at others. This energy generated from stress has to go somewhere, but some are not practiced enough in how to turn it to their advantage. Instead, turn in towards things like working out or cleaning your house." —Makida Bey, MA, certified life coach, therapist, and trainer

Just because you feel something doesn't mean you have to act on it

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"You are not a slave to your emotions. For instance, you can accept that you will experience an attraction to people other than your partner–it's hardwired in the brain–without acting on it or feeding it. Acknowledge the feeling, don't beat yourself up for it, and move on." —Patrick Wanis, PhD, celebrity life coach

Know what you can change and what you can't

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"Any energy spent trying to change someone rather than focusing on changing oneself is energy wasted. You can't change anyone other than yourself." —Patrick Wanis

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That resentment you're feeling? It's really entitlement

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"When dealing with resentment, look internally and understand that the resentment is coming from a sense of entitlement. For instance, if you believe you should have had help on a project and your friends or family don't show up, you might feel resentful. But the truth is you are not entitled to other people's time or help. Anything that anyone else donates is a miracle and should be treated with appreciation instead of expectation." —Leaha Mattinson, life coach and author of Silver Linings: The Essential Guide to Building Courage, Self-Respect, and Wellness

Loss is a powerful motivator

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"Rewarding yourself is one way to reinforce good behavior but penalties are also an effective way to motivate yourself. Set a goal and then create a penalty if you don't follow through. For example, let's say you want to create a habit around working out. At the beginning of every week, give a friend $100. Tell that friend to only give that $100 back to you if you go to the gym and work out at least three days that week. Psychologically, the penalty works better if it involves losing something you already have." —John Moore, life coach at My Loved Life

You gotta give a little to get a little

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"The best way to get someone to give you respect is to show respect to them first. Think about something you can appreciate about the other person. It can even be something inconsequential like their choice of clothing or colors, their laugh, their eyes. Then concentrate on what it is you like; they'll see respect in your eyes and it will likely come right back to you." —Elayne Savage, PhD, relationship and workplace coach, author of Don't Take It Personally! The Art of Dealing with Rejection

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Flip-flopping is a good thing

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"I have a lot of clients who are anxious or overwhelmed so I teach them to play the 'flip the thought' game. Anxious people often go through catastrophic 'what if' scenarios, so I flip them and we go through the same scenario but with the best possible ending. Your body reacts to situations both real and imagined, so by flipping the thought we change how we feel and act." —Gretchen Hydo, life and business coach at Any Lengths Life Coaching and author of the advice column #AskGretchen

Don't compromise your values—ever

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"We all have values in different areas of life and when we make decisions that are not in alignment with those values, we sabotage our journey and eliminate passion and happiness. For example, if wanting to be respected is one of your values and your boss disrespects you at work, you will probably never be happy in that position. Honoring your values sometimes takes huge leaps of faith but when you do you find that life works out for the better almost every time." —Paul Colaianni, personal empowerment coach and author of The Overwhelmed Brain: Personal Growth For Critical Thinkers

Turn off the news

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"It's OK to live in your own world. By now, most of us know that we create our own realities by processing life in our own unique ways. It is crucial to be aware of global, local, and personal events; however, our internal reactions are most important. We all have the power to think and behave positively, but many of us have a default mindset of fear, anger, and negativity. It's OK to flip the 'positivity' switch and stay there—don't let others bring you down." —Diane Passage, empowerment coach

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Highway to the danger zone

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"Too many people get stuck in the comfort zone. That damn comfort zone—it's called comfort for a reason—because it's uncomfortable when you step out of it. All success happens when you cross that line and keep crossing it. Comfortable has never accomplished anything other than mediocrity." —Diane Passage

You're not starring in your own reality TV show

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"Most of my clients love drama. They love the excitement, attention and high from it. Most times when bad things happen they're just a small bump in the road. But when we embroider things and exaggerate stories to give our ego a boost, all of a sudden that little bump is now Mt. Everest and feels insurmountable. If you want to keep moving forward you have to stop doing this and let go of the drama." —Rhiannon Rees, Global Coaching Guru top 30, author and speaker

You don't need every person to like you, just the right person

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"Many of my clients feel like they have to please or appeal to everyone. But that's just not possible. I try and teach them to pick a niche and than that niche can make you rich. The more you narrow your niche and work, the better off you will be and the more knowledge you will possess. People should not try to know everything. Once you know your niche then pick others who will help offset your talents. Gather a team around you and be able to refer out services you don't do." —Jo Hausman, author and life coach

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Rearrange the furniture

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Stuck in a rut or on a plateau? Switch something up completely that seems totally unrelated, like change the furniture around in your living room, get a new hairstyle, or schedule dinner at a different time. It is important for the unconscious mind to interrupt the pattern of the behavior in order to loosen up the brain and create desired change." —Joshua Kirnie, life coach, certified hypnotherapist and director of Alternative Hypnosis NY

Write away stress

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"To stop work stress from spilling out on the wrong people, take a piece of paper, a pen or pencil, and set your phone timer for five minutes. Then write your answer to this question: 'What stressed me out at work today?' When the timer goes off, don't read what you wrote, just go shred your paper! Writing is a release and reading only 'reloads it'." —Carol L Rickard, LCSW, life coach and author of Stretched Not Broken: A Caregiver's Toolbox for Reducing and Managing Stress

Do you think you could be any more passive aggressive?

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"People think that by walking away without speaking they are taking the high road and avoiding an argument but walking off in a huff is very passive aggressive. If you need to walk away, say 'I am unable to discuss this any further right now,' and then set a time when you will be available to talk." —Carol Rickard

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Pay attention to what people thank you for

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"Figuring out what you do best sounds simple but it can be quite difficult for people to pinpoint their strengths. To do this, write down a list of what people thank you for. Understand that what you may take for granted others truly value. This exercise will give you a lot of insight into what you're meant to be doing." —Lauree Ostrofsky, life coach and chief hugger at Simply Leap

There's no right way to grieve

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"You don't 'have to' anything, especially after a loss. People feel as if there's a protocol they should follow—they should be done grieving or be dating again by a certain time—but there's no blueprint for loss. You don't have to do anything that doesn't resonate with you." —Shelby Forsythia, life coach and intuitive grief guide

You can't fix the past so stop trying

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"People ruminate on how they could go back and magically fix their past mistakes, which only makes them stuck living in a time machine of how their past could've been different, better, or more if they had only done X, Y, or Z. But that just leaves them feeling exhausted and unsure of how to move forward in the present." —Shelby Forsythia

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Find the gift in the disappointment

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"A bad first date or a terrible meeting can throw you into a depressing spin cycle. Instead of thinking about what went wrong, ask yourself 'What is the Gift?' For instance, if a guy is inappropriate on a first date, then you never have to go out with him again. Viola! Rather than a waste of time, that date saved you months in a bad relationship. This technique can apply to any disappointment. The faster you move to accept the reality the situation, the sooner you can take the best possible action and move forward." —Karmen Lizzul, life and relationship coach at MissIntrovert.com

Always be first in line

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"Many studies indicate that people often respond to anxiety with avoidance. Instead of putting off the task you're worried about, do it immediately, even if it's just saying hello. Being proactive can free you from the anxiety of having to do what might feel like a chore." —Denise Limongello, PhD, licensed psychotherapist and life coach based in Manhattan

Use people's names

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"Research indicates that people often feel more listened to when they hear their name mentioned in a conversation. Mentioning someone's name while speaking to them can be a great way to demonstrate active listening skills and make the other person feel more engaged with you. Taking the time to insert the person's name one or two times during a conversation can be a great way to make the person feel they truly have your attention. Improved engagement can be a great way to reduce any awkward moments or prolonged silences during a social interaction." —Denise Limongello

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Talk yourself up

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"Talk about what you are good at and enjoy doing by communicating your strengths to others in a humble, authentic way. This allows others to better understand your unique talents and opens up opportunities for you to connect. Most people are afraid to share what they enjoy doing for fear of lack of acceptance or understanding. However, people can't know your areas of talent unless you tell them. Practice finding a non-boastful way to share your unique gifts with the world." —Katie M. Christy, Gallup certified strengths coach and founder of Activate Your Talent

With structure comes freedom

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"I think people are afraid to add more structure to their day because it seems rigid or confining but the thing is, the more success you have, the more responsibility you'll have. Then the challenge becomes how to balance it all. The best way to balance is by creating routines to keep productive momentum going." —Wade Alters, life coach

Don't identify with your mistakes

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"Too often when people have a lack of success they pin it on themselves, generalizing the behavior as their identity instead of realizing it's just a behavior or habit they learned. For example, you aren't lazy, you just have the behavior of being lazy in certain situations—you may be lazy about going to the gym but you aren't lazy caring for your kids or your cat. It's not who you are, it's just a specific behavior you have in certain situations." —Wade Alters

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Be "too much"

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"Don't listen to people who describe you as 'too much' of something, like you're 'too bossy' or you 'care too much.' The word 'too' is a key indicator of areas of natural talent for you and often the observer is making up for a weakness of their own. Don't stop being who you are just because someone doesn't understand your uniqueness." —Katie M. Christy


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