6 of the most popular TED talks that could help you reach your goals

Learn tips that could improve your mindset and help you reach your goals with these popular TED talks.

TED started as a conference where ideas about technology, entertainment, and design converged in 1986. Today, the online platform boasts a huge number of talks covering numerous topics, from behavioural economics to medical research. Since first posting online in 2007, TED has become an excellent place to listen to experts, hear different points of view, and find inspiration. 

Here are some of the most-watched TED talks from the last 30 years you should add to your playlist. 

1. How great leaders inspire action

Leadership expert Simon Sinek shares his simple approach for inspirational leadership.

He explains why some companies and people can achieve things that “defy all the assumptions” and argues that focusing on “why” is important. Understanding why your organisation exists or why you get out of bed in the morning can improve communication. Among the varied examples Sinek draws on to support his model are Apple and Martin Luther King Jr.  

If you have a leadership role, taking 20 minutes to listen to this TED talk could change your approach and lead to better results. 

2. Inside the mind of a master procrastinator 

Do you often find that you’re reading the news or Wikipedia when you should be completing an unrelated task? Or that a five-minute break to watch a video on YouTube has led you down a rabbit hole? In this funny and insightful talk, Tim Urban discusses his habit of waiting until the last minute to get things done. 

The talk encourages you to think about what you’re procrastinating on and whether it’s a task you can afford to put off. Urban highlights how time can pass you by, so being aware of what’s important to you is a job that you should start today. 

3. How to speak so that people want to listen to you

Effective communication is vital in your professional and personal life. If you’ve ever felt like no one is listening when you’re talking, Julian Treasure offers some tips and simple vocal exercises that can make your speaking more powerful. 

The talk highlights the things you should avoid when speaking, from negativity to exaggeration. It then explains how to increase the power of your speaking and how your delivery affects the meaning of your words. 

Embracing some of the tips can help you feel more confident next time you need to deliver a pitch, approach someone new, or even deliver an amusing anecdote to your friends. 

4. What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness

Robert Waldinger was the director of a 75-year-old study on adult development. During his research, he’s learnt some things about what leads to a happy, fulfilling life. In this talk, he shares three life lessons from the study. 

When speaking to young adults, the study found that 80% said becoming rich was a major life goal, and 50% wanted to become famous. Yet, the study that tracked lives over decades found that it’s good relationships that keep people happier and healthier. 

So, listen to this talk to discover three big lessons about relationships and why they’re so important for your long-term happiness. 

5. The puzzle of motivation 

What motivates you or the team you manage? Career analyst Dan Pink believes that traditional rewards aren’t as effective as you may think. 

He argues that incentives like bonuses and commissions block creativity and dull thinking. Yet, it’s still a common approach to motivating employees. Instead, Pink puts forward an alternative that focuses on three different elements – autonomy, mastery, and purpose. 

This insightful talk could change the way you set out your own goals as well as motivate others that you lead. 

6. How to make stress your friend 

Stress is something that everyone experiences, but how we respond to it can change the effect it has. Psychologist Kelly McGonigal urges you to see stress as something that could be positive. 

While stress has been linked to poor health, she argues that it’s the belief that stress is bad for you that has a harmful effect. Changing your mindset about stress could improve your wellbeing, she says. In one example she explains  that common signs of stress, such as your heart pounding or breathing faster, can also indicate that your body is energised and preparing to meet a challenge. 

Knowing how to handle stress can mean you can overcome obstacles and doubt to reach your goals.  

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