Feel like an imposter? Here’s how you can stop

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I still remember the first piece of work I delivered after starting my leadership consulting business. I had signed a contract to facilitate a half-day leadership program with an executive team of nine leaders.

I walked into the room that day—armed with a Masters Degree in Organizational Psychology, years of experience, and ringing endorsements from prior colleagues—thinking “What the [bleep] am I doing here? How did I possibly convince them that paying me to show up today was going to deliver even an ounce value? At what point in the day should I expect to be pelted with rotten tomatoes?”

Have you ever had your own version of that moment? The one in which everyone can see you’re perfectly qualified to be there, to ask for the thing, to win the deal, to be a success … except you?

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This, my friends, is the phenomenon known as imposter syndrome.

RELATED: 7 Simple Tips to Help You Stop Feeling Inadequate

One of my all-time favorite quotes is this wakeup call, often attributed to good ol’ Henry Ford: “Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.”

So let’s make sure you believe you can. Continue reading or listen to the podcast here:

What is imposter syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is that icky feeling of dread you get when you’re about to do (or you’re even just considering doing) the scary thing—apply for that job, ask for that raise, pitch your service to a new client, join a conversation with the big-wigs at that conference. It’s the feeling that you don’t deserve the success you’ve achieved, or that you’re somehow fooling everybody into believing you’re much more competent than you are.

The term was coined in 1978 by Dr.’s Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes, though the phenomenon certainly existed before that. Some studies show that women and people of color struggle more frequently. But anyone is susceptible to feeling like an imposter.

QUICK TIP!
Wondering whether the thing you struggle with is imposter syndrome? Take this imposter syndrome test developed by Dr. Clance to help you decide.

How to overcome imposter syndrome

The good news is that imposter syndrome isn’t terminal, and no pills are required to treat it. I’ve mostly overcome mine, and I’d love to share my tips to help you do the same.

1. Recognize and label imposter syndrome

Think of all the movie and TV tropes where some ordinary person is tasked with performing an extraordinary feat. The woman with a few hours of flight training under her belt is suddenly asked to land the commercial jet. The veterinary technician is the best and only available option to perform an emergency tracheotomy on the choking restaurant customer.

If you’re not a doctor and you’re afraid to perform surgery, that’s not imposter syndrome—that’s a completely rational fear! Actual imposter syndrome means you feel unqualified even when your skills tick off many or all of the requirement boxes.

On the morning of that first client session, I stood outside their office full of self-doubt and terror. And then I took a moment to simply recognize what was happening. I was experiencing doubt when I had no logical reason to. I was absolutely qualified to be there. I had the education and experience. I had done the research and applied professional care in designing the session I was about to deliver. What did I think I was missing?

You can’t overcome what you can’t see, so start by labeling your imposter syndrome for what it is.

The answer was … nothing. I wasn’t missing a darn thing. And taking a moment to pause and label my experience helped me realize that.

Did recognizing imposter syndrome cause it to vanish completely and permanently? Heck no. But you can’t overcome what you can’t see, so start by labeling your own imposter syndrome for what it is.

2. Grab some group support

Your imposter syndrome is a version of your meanest inner critic. And if you’re like most people, you’re meaner to yourself than you’d be to anyone else.

As psychotherapist Amy Morin said in an Inc. article about self-criticism:  It’s easier to be compassionate toward other people, rather than yourself.

While you might call yourself an idiot for making a mistake, it’s unlikely you’d say that to a loved one.

In short, we’re wired to see the bad in ourselves but the good in others. And you can use this to your advantage!

Grab a trusted friend or colleague. Tell them what you want to do and what’s holding you back. Ask for their unfiltered opinion.

If you’ve chosen wisely, this friend will tell you all of the reasons why your fear is unfounded. They can see your qualifications—what helps you stand out from the rest. And sometimes hearing that from an external source can help counteract the noise of your internal one.

Let those who see you from the outside-in help you stand strong against that insidious imposter syndrome.

Do this exercise with a few people and see what common threads you pull from their assessments. Did three different people highlight what an excellent communicator you are, or how creatively you solve problems, or how inspiring and approachable you are as a leader?

I reached out to three different friends ahead of my first project. Each of them reminded me that even though I was new at being an entrepreneur, I was indeed a seasoned and well-regarded designer and facilitator. And I really needed to hear that.

Let those who see you from the outside-in help you stand strong against that insidious imposter syndrome.

3. Practice fear-setting

Author and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss describes a process he uses called “fear setting.” In his TED Talk on the subject, he says “rather than give a recipe for success … I thought I would share my recipe for avoiding self-destruction.”

According to Tim, often the very thing we most need to accomplish—the asking, the doing, the trying—is the thing we fear most. Your imposter syndrome is your inner irrational fear speaking. So, meet it with so much rationality that it can’t help but back off.

Fear setting involves imagining yourself doing the thing. Then imagine the worst possible outcomes. And finally imagine how you can either proactively prevent that outcome, or how you’d repair the situation if it actually happened.

Your imposter syndrome is your inner irrational fear speaking. So, meet it with so much rationality that it can’t help but back off.

Imagine you want that promotion. [Insert cynical chuckle from your imposter syndrome monster as it tells you you’re not ready]. What’s the worst that could happen? Realistically, you don’t land the coveted role. Maybe the hiring leader calls you crazy for having tried.

Okay. What’s something you can do to prevent that situation? Maybe you have your resume reviewed by an expert or you practice interviewing with someone in a similar role.

And if the worst does happen? Think about what could you do to repair the situation. If the hiring leader gives you a “no” (and maybe, in your imagined worst-case scenario, a derisive laugh), you can ask for feedback. You could say “Maybe I’m not ready for this yet. What would it take for you to consider me in the future?”

Once you play it all the way out, suddenly your worst fears seem not only unlikely to happen but also—dare I say?—manageable.

Imposter syndrome fights with fear. So, fight fear with logic and preparedness.

4. Do scary stuff

Recognizing and labeling imposter syndrome, getting support from others, and planning for the worst are critical steps. But fear, terror, and self-doubt? They can all thrive even after you’ve done your best to eliminate them.

There’s no shortcut—you simply have to do the scary thing.

So what’s the solution? There’s no shortcut—you simply have to do the scary thing.

When I look back to my first deliverable as a newly-minted entrepreneur, I can still feel the fear of stepping into that room in front of nine people. Only a year later, I gave my first keynote to a room full of 250. Since then, I’ve spoken at numerous conferences, posted raw videos of myself on LinkedIn, and I even host a podcast that’s downloaded each week by more people than I could have dreamed of.

I can attribute all that I’ve accomplished to bucking up, facing my fear, and doing it anyway. Victory begets victory. Once you have that single win under your belt, you won’t believe what you’re suddenly capable of!

5. Be patient, practice, and persist

Your imposter syndrome has had years of practice. It’s deeply embedded in your brain’s wiring. You won’t defeat it overnight. And although you may tame your imposter syndrome, wrestling it back into submission when it acts up may always be an ongoing process.

Next month, I’m speaking at a virtual conference with a really big name in my industry. I do know I’ve earned the right to be there. Even so, I have my moments of thinking, Wait—did they really mean to select me … to present with him?

And then I just remind myself—yep, they did.

Conquering imposter syndrome takes time, patience, practice, and persistence. So, hang on in there. You deserve your successes. In fact, you’ve earned them!

 

This article originally appeared on Quick & Dirty Tips and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

 

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Money, health & more: Smart ways to improve your entire life

 

Whether you’re a recent grad or you’re coming to the end of your career, life has plenty more to offer that you have yet to experience. There are new people to meet, new places to see, and ways to succeed that you may have never thought possible. But to get the most out of life, you need to take a proactive approach. Making moves to boost your finances and career and improve your health and relationships can lead to a better future for you and your family.

So where should you start? To give you some inspiration, we’ve rounded up 101 of our best bucket list ideas for enhancing your life. Don’t try to tackle them all at once, but do generate your own list of what’s most important to you and check off items as you go.

Related: 8 clever moves when you have $1,000 in the bank

 

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There are some easy, actionable bucket list items that can help with your career.

 

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Mark Twain once said that if you start off your day eating a live frog, you can finish it knowing the worst is behind you. If you tackle the worst task of your workday first thing in the morning, you’ll reduce procrastination and gain momentum. Pick something important that you’re likely to procrastinate on.

 

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It’s true that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. If you’re due for a raise, demonstrate your value to your employer with evidence of your success and ask to be paid what you’re worth.

 

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Before you ask, see whether you can voluntarily take on some of the responsibilities of the new position so you can demonstrate your success in the new role. Also consider preparing a presentation with metrics to show how your promotion could impact the organization.

 

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Need a little extra income? The best side hustles allow you to flexibly set your own schedule and keep your full-time job. If you pick something that interests you, it might not even feel like work. Plus, there’s a chance it could grow into a full-time venture that you’re more passionate about.

 

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It’s often said that teaching someone is the best way to learn something yourself. Choosing to be a mentor will not only make a meaningful difference in someone else’s career, but it also might help you grow your own career.

 

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Choose a new skill to learn monthly or annually, depending on how much time it’ll take to master. You can ask your employer to help with your education or take advantage of the many free online education sites to pick up new skills.

 

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 In some fields, learning a new language can help you be more successful and even earn you a raise. Learning a new language also may allow you to live and work in another country should you choose to do so one day.

 

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 Do something above and beyond that will help you grow while gaining recognition within your organization. You might take on a side project, make a suggestion for process improvement, or introduce a new workflow idea that other employees will benefit from.

 

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You work hard and you deserve breaks from time to time. Make an effort to use all of your vacation days each year. Research shows that time away from work can improve your physical and mental health.

 

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 If you’re bringing work home every night, take steps to keep your work life separate from your personal time. Some people have separate laptops for work and home, and remote workers can use a co-working space or set up a home office to make clear the distinction between work and home life.

 

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You may want to market yourself as a freelancer on sites or your own website or social media pages. Put together an impressive portfolio, write about your skills and experiences and get professional photos. This could lead to new opportunities outside your current job.

 

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 If it’s been a while since you’ve refreshed your resume, you should probably give it a rewrite. Add any new skills, qualifications or experience you may have gained. You might even want to consult a resume professional.

 

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 If you work in a field with credentialing opportunities, don’t hesitate to work toward new qualifications that will advance your career.

 

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Start following experts in your field on social media; reach out to potential mentors in your workplace and aim to expand your network on LinkedIn.

 

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A career coach can help you plan your career, build your resume and much more. This can be especially helpful if you’re switching career paths.

 

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Spend a little free time each week setting goals, acquiring skills and maybe even getting some unpaid experience doing the job you’ve always dreamed of.

 

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Help newbies in your field and maybe even make a little extra cash.

 

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Make it a goal to find a position that allows you to experience the remote work lifestyle. Knock out some of your travel bucket list items while you earn a salary.

 

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Add these items to your bucket list if you’d like more financial stability and independence.

 

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Most experts recommend that you save at least 15% of your pre-tax income for retirement, including any employer contributions. If you aim to increase that amount to 20%, you’ll be well-prepared when you reach retirement age, and may even have the option of early retirement.

 

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Debt can drive down your credit score and cause you a ton of unnecessary stress. Reevaluate your budget to make more room for debt repayment and choose a strategy such as the debt avalanche method or take advantage of a balance transfer credit card offer.

 

You can improve your credit score in as few as 30 days by making on-time payments, lowering your credit utilization ratio (either by paying down debt or increasing your credit limit) or becoming an authorized user, among other strategies. Also, make sure to check your credit report and score regularly so you can catch errors and see where you stand.

 

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 If you can use credit cards responsibly, you can rack up a ton of extra cash each year just for your regular spending.

 

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Job loss, income cuts, and unexpected expenses can happen to anyone at any time. It is generally advised that you save three to six months’ worth of expenses in an emergency fund so you’ll be prepared.

 

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If you want to grow your money, your best bet is to start investing. Aim for a diversified portfolio of stocks, bonds and alternative investments. Some investment platforms allow you to invest as little as $5, but committing to more than could potentially yield better returns.

 

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 It’ll be important to have your affairs in order, including what will happen with your assets and property and who will take guardianship over your children. Depending on your financial situation, you may not need to consult with a lawyer; it may be sufficient to draft your will for free online.

 

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Wherever you can, find ways to put money back in your pocket. That includes negotiating discounts with your service providers, canceling unused subscriptions and comparing insurance rates to find the lowest premium.

 

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There are ways to earn extra money with only a small time investment. You might rent out your spare room, rent ad space on your car, create a blog or online course, or invest in parking spots or music royalties. See how to earn passive income for more ideas.

 

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If you want to save, you’ll need to first identify how much you’re spending in various categories.

 

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Add up your income. After subtracting monthly bills like rent, look at your purchases for the past few months and decide what was necessary. Calculate the average spent on necessary expenses in each category. Set your budget.

 

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Owning a house is a financial accomplishment that may eventually free up more of your income once you’ve built enough equity. It could also save you money when compared to renting.

 

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 We promise life insurance is less costly and more convenient than it used to be, and it’s the best way to protect your family in the event of your untimely death.

 

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If you’ve got your bases covered, like a retirement account and a stocked emergency fund, it can feel great to donate either a one-time or recurring donation to the charity of your choice.

 

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Don’t buy anything except for essentials for one month out of the year. You’ll be surprised how much you can save.

 

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A financial advisor can help you achieve your financial goals by looking at your individual situation and making recommendations for how to grow your wealth.

 

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Consider adding these items to your bucket list if you are interested in becoming more creative!

 

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 Learn to play a musical instrument, get into art or design, work with your hands or find something else that interests you. Consider picking something that feels distinctly different from your 9-to-5 job.

 

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Some people find gardening to be relaxing and inspiring. As an added bonus, you can choose to plant herbs or vegetables that will serve you well in your recipes.

 

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If you and the kids are getting sick of playing Monopoly, consider inventing something unique to your family that you can all enjoy playing.

 

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 In an age where we’re all inundated with emails, putting pen to paper and writing a thoughtful note can feel like a nice departure. Plus, your friends and family will appreciate your taking the time to write to them.

 

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It could be as simple as microwaving a bowl of chocolate and peanut butter or as complex as a souffle. Experiment with different versions until you get the flavor you’re after.

 

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It can be both therapeutic and creatively inspiring to look back on your past and write about your most memorable moments. If you’ve got a knack for writing, you may even hope to be published one day.

 

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Visit a park or trail that’s sure to give you plenty of moments of natural beauty. Take pictures, write notes or sketch what catches your eye.

 

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It can be inspiring just to watch other people play their music, read their writing or perform their comedy routines. If you feel confident, you can also share your creative work with others.

 

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 Daily writing practice and dream recall are both ways to enhance your creativity. Try journaling your stream of consciousness, or check out some writing prompts to get you started. Record everything you can about your dreams when you wake up. This could lead to creative ideas later on.

 

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Studies show that children and adults who play video games are more creative in work and school. That’s true regardless of the type of game. Video games are shown to increase your cognitive functioning as well.

 

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Dance is a creative way to express yourself and get outside of your comfort zone. You might choose salsa, swing, modern, ballet or even a cardio-focused dance workout class.

 

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Tough puzzles force you to think outside the box, enhancing your creativity.

 

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Even if you don’t play an instrument, use an app to generate the sounds for you, and write the lyrics yourself.

 

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Step outside your comfort zone and wear something you would never wear.

 

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Reading boosts your imagination, which encourages creativity and innovation.

 

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Discover your favorite artists, musicians and creators, and follow them on social media. Look to them for inspiration.

 

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Brainstorming can foster creativity. Get together with some other creatives and come up with a new art, music or writing project to work on together.

 

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If you’d like to get in better shape or start taking better care of your physical health, you should add these bucket list items to your list!

 

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Whether you want to increase your vegetable intake or improve your fitness, it’s important to have a goal in mind and monitor your progress. Try keeping a food diary or creating a workout plan with a friend.

 

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 Even people who exercise face health risks if they otherwise spend their day seated. A standing desk can improve your overall health, as can regular movement breaks. Consider walking, biking or running a few times a week to stay active.

 

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Run a 10K, 5K or, if you’re ready, run a marathon. Wherever you’re at with your current fitness level, participating in an athletic event can give you the motivation you need to reach your fitness goals.

 

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Self-care activities can reduce anxiety and boost your mood. Pick something you enjoy that will revive you. It could be a bubble bath, a walk in the park, a midday nap or a meditation session

 

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Yoga can decrease inflammation, stress and pain while improving your sleep, cardiovascular health, breathing and metabolism. If you’re ready to try yoga but nervous to attend a class in-person, there are many online tutorials and classes.

 

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Most adults need about seven to nine hours of sleep per night, depending on the individual. Sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on more than just your energy; it can reduce your mental capabilities and negatively impact your mood. Sufficient sleep, on the other hand, can improve the health of your brain, heart, and immune system.

 

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How much water you need will vary based on how much exercise you get, where you live and your current health. It is recommended that men get 3.7 liters of fluids every day and women get 2.7 liters, but this includes fluid intake from food. For most people, eight glasses a day is a good goal. If you find yourself getting thirsty during the day, you’re probably not drinking enough.

 

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Although providing you with the benefits of physical exercise, playing a sport can also enhance your social skills, reduce your stress and improve your mood. Pick something you’ll have fun with and consider joining a local team. Or, if you’ve always wanted to try something unique like archery or scuba diving, why not look into opportunities nearby?

 

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If you want to get great results in a short period of time, try HIIT training. It involves short periods of intense cardio followed by brief recoveries. When compared to steady-state exercise like jogging, it’s especially effective at burning fat, improving your mental health, and enhancing your heart health.

 

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There are numerous benefits to taking the time to empty your mind, including decreased blood pressure, reduced pain, better sleep and a longer attention span. If you need a little help relaxing and focusing on your breathing, check out guided meditations.

 

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Are you getting enough fruits and vegetables? Are you eating too much sugar? Evaluate your diet and set small objectives to change it over time.

 

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Try eating only what your body needs for a month and cutting out the junk.

 

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Volunteering can help reduce stress and prevent depression. Plus, you’ll be helping to make the world a better place.

 

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If you’re going through a difficult time, talking to others with similar experiences can help maintain your mental health.

 

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Having a pet reduces blood pressure and cholesterol levels and it also motivates people to exercise and socialize. You’ll get a daily cuteness overload and you’ll help rescue a pet from a worse fate.

 

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A low resting heart rate is indicative of your overall health. One study found a higher mortality rate for people with a resting heart rate of more than 70 beats per minute. To lower your resting heart rate, eat a healthy diet, get plenty of exercise, take the time to relax and quit smoking.

 

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Maybe it’s cutting back on alcohol, or working on eliminating your negative self-talk. Pick something that’s holding you back and focus on axing the habit over time.

 

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These bucket list items can help improve a platonic, romantic, familial or professional relationship.

 

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Making friends as an adult can be a challenge, but meeting the right person could expand your horizons. Just as there are apps for dating, there are apps for making new friends. You can also check out local meetups, befriend a coworker or get to know someone in your extended circle a little better.

 

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If there’s someone you’ve lost touch with, consider reaching out to them. You might find that you still have a lot in common, or you both may have changed in similar ways.

 

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Older folks have lived through a lot, and they usually have some pretty fascinating stories to tell. What’s more, loneliness among seniors can be a problem, and you’ll be giving your grandparents a chance to engage with you.

 

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Cooking together can strengthen family bonds. Pick a recipe, divide up the work and enjoy the meal around the table together.

 

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If you’re avoiding traveling due to the COVID-19 pandemic or your finances, you can still set aside time to unwind with your family. You might schedule outdoor activities, play board games or set up an at-home spa.

 

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Your parents diapered you for years, so the least you could do is buy them a meal as an adult. It’ll give you a chance to reconnect.

 

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Too much screen time can disrupt your sleep and replace other activities that are healthier and more productive. It can also impede upon your relationships if you spend too much time with your nose in your phone. Try keeping screens out of the bedroom and put them out of sight when you’re eating with your family.

 

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 If you have a hobby that you’re passionate about, starting a club, group or regular meetup event can be a great way to meet like-minded people. Whether it’s a book club, a knitting circle, a wine tasting crew or something else entirely, that shared activity can make a big difference in your social life.

 

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The “Five Love Languages” quiz helps couples identify differences in the way they express their love. Many people believe this knowledge leads to better communication and conflict resolution.

 

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We get checkups for our physical health, but many people never address their mental health. If you’re struggling with something in your personal life, seeing a therapist or counselor may help.

 

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 Watching a film with your friends is an easy and cheap way to bond over an experience. If you make it a regular thing, each attendee can rate each film and you can pick a winner (or host an entire awards ceremony of your making) after several months.

 

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You don’t need to be a talented musician to have fun playing in a band. Get a group together with good rock ’n’ roll energy and practice some songs for fun.

 

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Surprise new neighbors with a welcome card or bottle of wine. If you’re new to the neighborhood, invite your neighbors to your housewarming party.

 

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Make sure the people in your life know you are grateful for them. Aim for as many daily acts of kindness as possible and always thank your loved ones when they do something for you.

 

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You might rent out your spare room or host a traveler for free. This can be a great way to make new friends from different backgrounds.

 

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Maybe there’s someone in another department who you rarely get to talk to. Take the time to get to know someone you work with. It may even help with your career.

 

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Making social time for kids or pets means the parents get to socialize as well. While your kids are having a tea party or your dogs are chasing each other in circles, catch up with or get to know the other parents.

 

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If you’d like to see more of the world and increase your travels, consider adding these items to your bucket list.

 

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Always wanted to see the Grand Canyon, the canals of Venice, Great Barrier Reef, the Statue of Liberty in New York or the Great Pyramid of Giza? There aren’t enough years in our short lives to see everything the world has to offer. Decide what destinations are important to you and start roughly planning when you’ll visit each one.

 

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You can easily rack up enough points for a free flight from your everyday spending — and a welcome bonus can get you there even faster.

 

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There’s something extra special about taking the time to make your way across the country. You may even want to rent an RV to make camping along the way a little easier. Make sure you pack these road trip essentials.

 

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Make a list of the states you have yet to visit and find an event or attraction you’d like to see there. There are amazing state parks in all 50 states, so if you’re a nature lover, you can start there. You should be able to knock out quite a few states during a cross-country road trip, but not Hawaii. Trust us, Hawaii needs to be on your list.

 

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Want to visit Australia, Chile, Greece, Indonesia, New Zealand, Scotland or Spain? Set a goal for how many stamps you want in your passport and aim to achieve it. It’s easy and cheap to fly between countries while you’re in Europe, so plan to visit several each time you travel overseas.

 

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There’s so much natural beauty accessible to you in our country’s many parks. If you enjoy camping and hiking, you may want to set an even more ambitious goal. Not sure which to visit first? Check out these national parks without crowds.

 

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Flying first class entitles you to airport lounge access, a free alcoholic beverage on the plane, more comfortable seating, extra legroom and so much more. But it’ll cost you an arm and a leg, unless you use points.

 

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Imagine waking up to 360-degree views of the pristine ocean. You may even be able to stay in an over-water bungalow with points. Or feel like a kid again and sleep in a tree house secluded in nature.

 

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Next time you travel somewhere you’d love to see from above, consider exploring via a hot air balloon.

 

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 A global poll determined that these locations are the most wondrous:

  • The Great Wall of China, China
  • Chichen Itza, Mexico
  • Petra, Jordan
  • Machu Picchu, Cuzco, Peru
  • Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Peru
  • Colosseum, Rome, Italy
  • Taj Mahal, Agra, India

 

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You haven’t really had pizza until you’ve eaten it in Italy. As you travel, try the local cuisine.

 

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Some of the most extraordinary views are waiting for you when you summit a peak.

 

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These extraordinary sites are legally protected due to their “outstanding universal value.” There are more than 1,000 to choose from around the world, including plenty close to home in the United States and Canada.

 

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Fiji, Tahiti, Maui — these are just some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Go soak up the sun and feel the sand between your toes.

 

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You won’t freeze. There are plenty of ice hotels and igloos with modern amenities that are as cozy as they are unique. You’ll only need to go as far as Alaska, and who knows, maybe you’ll even see the Northern Lights while you’re there.

 

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You’ll get the chance to hear local acts you might otherwise never discover.

 

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Ultimately, your own bucket list will be unique to your goals and dreams. Create a list that includes more specific goals, such as travel destinations you want to visit, relationship issues you want to address, adjustments based on your financial situation and other ideas that directly address your needs.

We hope this list inspires you to come up with your own ideas and that you continue to add to your list as you develop new goals. Creating a bucket list is a great way to narrow down what’s most important to you so you can lead a more fulfilling life.

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This article originally appeared on FinanceBuzz.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

 

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Featured Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

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