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How Finding Flow Helps You Decide What To Do With Your Life

How Finding Flow Helps You Decide What To Do With Your Life

Being in my mid 20’s, most would say I have barely scratched the surface when it comes to experiencing life. I would have to agree, but I certainly feel as though I could have much more direction. As I graduated high school I felt like I really knew what I wanted to do with my life. I knew where I was going to college, and I had a major picked out that I was sure of. Due to a number of unfortunate circumstances, I wasn’t able to go away to college as planned, so I was stuck going to community college for my first two years.

I’m not saying anything is wrong with community college. Looking back, I definitely saved a ton of money by doing that. As I started classes, I picked up a bartending job to make extra money for myself. I started meeting people from all over, and I also learned what they did for a living. It got the wheels in my brain turning, “maybe I’m not doing what I want to be doing”, “in 20 years am I still going to love what I’m doing?”, etc.

I decided that it was best for me to take some time off. I have gone to and dropped out of college twice since I initially started back in 2010. Since then I have continued my job as a bartender, and I feel as though my life has been on auto pilot ever since. I’m happy with where I am, the experience I have gained, and the relationships I have formed. That being said, I still feel as though my life doesn’t really have any direction.

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What is “flow” and how do I find it?

In life I think most of us fall victim to trying to be in control of every little thing. By doing so you tend to feel held back, restraiend, and bottled up. Flow is literally the opposite of control. The field of psychology gives one definition:

“Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity.”

I don’t think there’s one specific way to find your flow. For me, I have found that by doing things and being around people that I absolutely love is where I have found just that. I have always enjoyed writing. I would lose track of time when I would sit down at the end of the day to journal.

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Just one day it clicked for me, I so passionately wanted to become a writer. I found that I would get lost in the thought of writing something that other people could relate to. I wanted people to know that they are not alone in how they feel. I think that is so important.

When you find your flow, you’re able to embrace the uniqueness about you as well as your talents. Accept yourself for exactly who you are now. Admit that you haven’t really allowed yourself to pursue the things you’d really like to do with your life. Under all the layers of expectations you have to be able to encourage your “better self”, the person you were truly meant to be.

Need some suggestions to help give yourself a little direction?

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1. Be frugal

What I mean is, if something isn’t directly connected to your “flow”, it should come secondary. Minimize your spending. Downsize your housing, the amount of times you eat out, the amount of money you spend on clothing, etc. Before you do anything, ask yourself if it is going to benefit your state of flow, cut back as much as you can. If it does not bring you to your extremely joyful state, why are you spending money on it?

3. Have Compressed/Uncompressed days

I think it’s important to fill certain days full of all the things we don’t really want to do. Laundry, paying bills, dishes, cleaning the house, etc are all included. No one likes doing these things, so I have found that by doing my best to get it all done over 3-4 days out the week, I’m able to really appreciate my uncompressed days more. Uncompressed days motivate me to get through my compressed days.

3. Lessen your commitments

In life we commit to many things: jobs, romantic relationships, friendships, etc. The trouble with this is sometimes we “over-commit”. By doing so, we end up paying more attention to those things, forget about ourselves, get burnt out, and end up not being able to give as much to others. Your most important investment is yourself. If you find yourself committed to anything that disrupts your peace and your “flow”, pull yourself away from it.

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4. Maintain your flow state

  • Eat a well balanced diet: You’d be surprised how much better you’ll feel when you eat healthier. I don’t mean you need to make drastic changes to your diet, but incorporating more fruits and vegetables could be very beneficial. Making some modifications can really make all the difference.
  • Get enough sleep: Don’t oversleep, but get just enough so that you’ll feel fully rested for the next day. Eight hours should be plenty. Decorate your room in a way that you find to be relaxing so you can fall asleep with ease.
  • Exercise: I would usually recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. This allows you to take a break in your day to give your mind a chance to relax and clear your head. Exercise gives you an extra jolt to get through the day.
  • Spend time with close friends: Don’t get this confused with people you spend time with to just pass time. I’m talking about people who you can truly rely on for anything. The people you can rely on for emotional support, the ones you can go to in other times of need, who you can call at 3 AM and know they will answer. Having that core group of people is incredibly beneficial to your flow. They support you and inspire you to become whatever and whoever you truly want to be.

Featured photo credit: www.businessinsider.com via businessinsider.com

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Erica Wagner

Erica is a passionate writer who shares inspiring ideas and lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Published on September 23, 2020

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

I don’t know about you, but many times when I hear the word negotiate I think of lawyers working out a business deal or having to do battle with a car salesman to try to get a lower price. Since I am in recruiting, the term “negotiation” comes up when someone is attempting to get a higher compensation package.

If we think about it, we tend to negotiate almost every day in a wide variety of things we do. Getting a handle on the important negotiation skills can be incredibly beneficial in many parts of our lives. Let’s take a look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

What is Negotiation?

First, let’s take a look at what negotiation is. Put simply, negotiation is a method by which people settle their differences. It is a process in which compromise or agreement can be reached without argument or dispute.

Anytime two people or sides disagree on something, they are almost always looking for the best possible outcome for their side. This could be from an individual’s perspective or someone representing an organization.

In reality, it’s rare that one side gets everything they want and the other side gets nothing that they are seeking. Seeking to reach a common ground of sorts where both sides feel like they are getting most of what they want is the key to being successful and maintaining the relationship.

Places We Negotiate

I’ve mentioned that we negotiate in just about all phases of our life. For those of you who are shaking your head no, I invite you to think about the following:

1. Work/Business

This one is the most obvious and it’s what naturally comes to mind when we think of the word “negotiate”.

When you first started at your current job, you might have asked for a higher salary. It could be that you delivered a huge new client to your company and used this as leverage in your most recent evaluation for more compensation. If you work with vendors (and just about every company does), maybe you worked them to a lower price or better contract terms.

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In recruiting, I negotiate with candidates and hiring managers all the time to land the best talent I can find. It’s very common to accept additional work with the (sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken) agreement that it will benefit your career in the future.

Recently, I took over a project that was my boss was working on so that I would be able to attend a conference later in the year. And so it goes, we do this all day long at work.

2. Personal

I don’t know about you, but I negotiate with my spouse all the time. I’ll cook dinner with the understanding that she does the dishes. Who wants to mow the lawn and who wants to vacuum and dust the house?

I think we should save 10% for retirement, but she thinks 5% is plenty. Therefore, we save 8%. And don’t even get me started with my kids. My older daughter can borrow my car as soon as she finishes her chores. My younger daughter can go hang out with her friends when her homework is done.

Then, there are all those interactions in our personal lives outside our homes. The carpenter wants to charge me $12,000 to build a new deck. I think $10,000 is plenty so we agree on $11,000. I ask my neighbor if I can borrow his snowblower in the winter if I invite him over the next time I grill steak. And so on.

3. Ourselves

You didn’t expect this one, did you? We negotiate with ourselves all day long.

I’ll make sure I don’t skip my workout tomorrow since I’m going to have that extra piece of pizza. My spouse has been quiet the last few days, is it worth me asking her about, or should I leave it alone? I think the car place charged me for some repairs that weren’t needed, should I say something or just let it go? I know my friend has been having some personal challenges, should I check in with him? We’ve been friends for a long time, I’m sure he’d come to me if he needed help. I’ve got the #4 pick in this year’s Fantasy Football draft, should I choose a running back or a wide receiver?

Think about that non-stop voice inside your head. It always seems to be chattering away about something and many times, it’s us negotiating with ourselves. I’ll finish up that report that the boss needs before I turn on the football game.

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Why Negotiation Skills Are So Important

Put simply, negotiation skills are important because we all interact with other people, and not only other people but other organizations and groups of people as well.

We all rarely want the same thing or outcome. Most of the time a vendor is looking at getting you to pay a higher price for something than you want to spend. Therefore, it’s important to negotiate to some middle ground that works well for both sides.

My wife and I disagree on how much to save for retirement. If we weren’t married it wouldn’t be an issue. We’d each contribute how much we wanted to on our retirement funds. We choose to be married, so we have to come to some agreement that we both feel comfortable with. We have to compromise. Therefore, we have to negotiate.

If we each lived on a planet by ourselves, we would be free to do just about anything we wanted to. We wouldn’t have to compromise with anyone because we wouldn’t interact with anyone. We would make every choice unilaterally the way we wanted to.

As we all know, this isn’t how things are. We are constantly interacting with other people and organizations, each one with their own agenda’s, viewpoints, and opinions. Therefore, we have to be able to work together.

6 Negotiation Skills to Master

Having strong negotiation skills helps us create win-win situations with others, allowing us to get most of what we want in conjunction with others around us.

Now, let’s look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

1. Preparation

Preparation is a key place to start with when getting ready to negotiate. Being prepared means having a clear vision of what you want and how you’d go about achieving it. It means knowing what the end goal looks like and also what you are willing to give to get it.

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It also means knowing who you are negotiating with and what areas they might be willing to compromise on. You should also know what your “bottom line” is. By “bottom line” I mean what is the most you are willing to give up to get what you want.

For instance, several years ago, I decided it was time to get a newer car. I say newer because I wanted a “new to me” car, not a brand new car. I did my research and figured out what type of car I wanted. I decided on what must-have items on the car I wanted, the highest amount of miles that would already be on it, the colors I was willing to get it in, and the highest amount of money I was willing to pay.

After visiting numerous car dealerships I was able to negotiate buying a car. I knew what I was willing to give up (amount of money) and what I was willing to accept, things like the color, amount of miles, etc. I came prepared. This is critical.

2. Clear Communication

The next key skill you need to be an effective negotiator is clear communication. You have to be able to clearly articulate what you want to the other party. This means both clear verbal and written communication.

If you can’t clearly tell the other person what you want, how do you expect to get it? Have you ever worked through something with a vendor or someone else only to learn of a surprise right at the end that wasn’t talked about before? This is not what you would call clear communication. It’s essential to be able to share a coherent and logical vision with the person you are working with.

3. Active Listening

Let’s do a quick review of active listening. This is when you are completely focused on the speaker, understand their message, comprehend the information, and respond appropriately. This is a necessary ingredient to be able to negotiate successfully. You must be able to fully focus on the other person’s wants to completely understand them.

If you aren’t giving them your full attention, you may miss some major points or details. This leads to frustration down the road on both sides. Ensure you are employing your active listening skills when in arbitration mode.

4. Teamwork and Collaboration

To be able to get to a place of common ground and a win-win scenario, you have to have a sense of teamwork and collaboration.

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If you are only thinking about yourself and what you want without giving much care to what the other person is wanting, you are bound to wind up without a solution. The other person may get frustrated and give up if they see you are unwilling to meet them halfway or care little for what they want.

When you collaborate, you are working together to help each other get what is most important to you. The other upside to negotiating with a sense of teamwork and collaboration is that it helps create a sense of trust, which, in turn, helps provide positive energy for working to a successful conclusion.

5. Problem Solving

Problem-solving is another key negotiation skill. When you are working with the other person to get the deal done many times you’ll face new challenges along the way.

Maybe you want a new vendor to provide training on the software they are selling you but they say it’s going to cost an additional $20,000 to provide this service. If you don’t have the additional $20,000 in the budget to spend on the software but you feel the training is critical, how are you going to solve that problem?

From what I’ve seen, most vendors aren’t willing to provide additional services without getting paid for them. This is where problem-solving skills will help continue the discussions. You might suggest to the vendor that your company will also be looking to replace their financial software next year, and you’d be happy to ensure they get one of the first seats at the table when the time comes if they could perhaps lower the pricing on their training.

There’s a solution to most challenges, but it takes problem-solving skills to work through them effectively.

6. Decision-Making Ability

Finally, having strong decision-making ability will help you seal the deal when you get to a place where everyone feels like they are getting what works for them. Each step of the way you can cross off the list when you get what you are looking for and decide to move onto the next item. Then, once you have all of your must-have boxes checked and the other side feels good about things, it’s time to shake hands and sign on the dotted line. Powerful decision-making ability will help you get to the finish line together.

Conclusion

There you have it, 6 effective negotiation skills to master to lead a more fulfilling life. Once we realize that we negotiate in one form or another almost every day in every phase of our lives, we realize how critical a skill it is.

Possessing strong negotiation skills will help you in nearly every one of your relationships at both the workplace and in your personal life. If you feel your arbitration tools could use some sharpening, try some of the 6 effective negotiation skills to master that we’ve talked about.

More Tips to Improve Your Negotiation Skills

Featured photo credit: Windows via unsplash.com

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