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Published on June 3, 2020

Why Is Life So Complicated For You? 5 Reasons Why

Why Is Life So Complicated For You? 5 Reasons Why

“Being simple is the most complicated thing nowadays.” -Ramana Pemmaraju

We live in a world where constant change and disruption is a given.

Our lives were suddenly turned upside down by a world pandemic. We had no control, and our power of choice was taken away from us. To survive we had to accept and obey the laws set by the government to eliminate a virus that could potentially destroy our society as we know it.

I found it difficult to adjust to living a life with no social contact apart from those living in my bubble. I quickly realised that to get through living with COVID-19 regulations and rules, I had to keep my life as uncomplicated as possible. The more complicated I made my life, the more frenetic, anxious and fearful I became. This was not an easy task, and every day I had to work on overcoming the biggest obstacle ever: my mind.

So, if you are feeling that your life is complicated, here are 5 reasons why this is happening to you. The good news is that if you address these 5 obstacles, you will have a much better chance of living an uncomplicated life.

1. Focusing on the Complexity of Life

If you were to ask Confucius if life is complicated, his reply would be, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”

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The most difficult and anxiety-creating activity I found during Level 4 lockdown was doing the weekly shop. Adjusting to a new way of shopping where you had to stand in long queues to get into the grocery store while still maintaining a 2-meter gap outside and inside the store was exhausting.

One person per household was allowed to go to the grocery store, and that task was allocated to me. I began to dread the weekly trip, and I had to work really hard to manage my anxiety. I soon realized that if I continued to believe that this shopping exercise was complicated and challenging, then guess what? It would be.

It’s easy to see something as complicated when it forces us to shift our lives in some major way, but it’s often useful to first work on seeing this change in a more positive or simpler light. What will this change teach you? Can you incorporate it into your routine without too much upheaval? Do your best to make it as straightforward as possible.

The Complexity Bias

The complexity bias is a reason why we humans lean towards complicating our lives rather than keeping things simple. When we are faced with too much information or we are in a state of confusion about something, we will naturally focus on the complexity of the issue rather than look for a simple solution. In a recent article, the author explains, when “we succumb to complexity bias, we are focusing too hard on the tricky 10% and ignoring the easy 90%.”[1]

When you are dealing with a situation that you feel is complicated and overwhelming, try to focus on coming up with solutions or strategies that are simple. Ask yourself this question: If I take the simple, straightforward approach what will be the outcome? More confusion or perhaps a solution? I think you know what the answer would be!

2. Being Constantly Worrying

As humans, we are emotional beings. When we are stressed, angry, frustrated, or unhappy, our thoughts and emotions can have a significant influence on how we react and behave.

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Constantly worrying about your problems and what lies ahead in the future can drain your energy and cause physical and emotional distress in your life. The more you worry, the more complicated your life seems.

Looking for a silver lining or the best option in a bad situation does not come naturally to us. It takes work and continuous effort to navigate our way around the challenges and curveballs that life throws at you.

Fortunately, there are many strategies that can help you calm your worried mind and ease anxiety. Try the following to see what works for you[2]:

  • Breathing exercises
  • Meditation
  • Cardio exercises
  • Journaling
  • Yoga
  • Listening to music
  • Talking to friends

3. Trying to Control Everything in Life

We live in a complex world, and it can be very hard to find the answers to the challenges we face in our lives. We are all afraid of something, whether it is fear of failing, dying, or losing a loved one. Striving to have control over one’s life is an attempt to bury your fears so that you don’t have to face them.

If you are making decisions about your life from a place of control, then you need to stop. Striving to have control in your life is a sign that you are living your life in fear. You need to break free of your fears and learn to accept that there are things in life that are outside of your control.

Once you accept that life is all about your navigating your way through it rather than controlling it, you will find that your outlook on life will be more positive and not so complicated.

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“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react.” -Charles R. Swindoll.

4. Basing Your Happiness on Others’ Happiness

Your life will always be complicated and difficult if you hinge your happiness on other people in your life. Your happiness does not come from others, it comes from within you.

If you rely on another person’s happiness to live life, over time the complications of life will overwhelm you and you will lose your sense of self. You will find that you will be constantly trying to please others and trying to keep them happy — this is exhausting and detrimental to your wellbeing.

You need to take a breath, look inward, and then make a choice. Do you want to live a life valuing and believing in yourself the way you deserve, or do you want to live your life based on the happiness of others? I know what I would choose.

5. Feeding Into the Drama of Life

By feeding into other peoples’ drama, you are making your life more complicated than it needs to be. Drama and having toxic people in your life is a recipe for living an emotionally exhausting and complicated life.

There are certain types of people who live their life through drama and catastrophe. They choose to respond to life’s challenges in a way that is not productive. Stay away from them. If they do come to you with their drama, take a breathe and give yourself some time to work out how best to manage the situation without falling into the trap of taking on board their negative energy.

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It won’t happen overnight, but the more you work on your self-acceptance and self-belief, the more courageous and confident you will be. With this courage, you will be able to step up and eliminate negative drama from your life. Once you have done this, your life will be less complicated and so much easier for you to navigate your way through life’s challenges.

Final Thoughts

“If you accept life in all its fullness and ambiguity, it’s not complicated; it’s only complicated if you don’t accept it.” -Marty Rubin

You will always have challenging times in your life, and the more complicated you make it, the more difficult your life will be.

The more you focus on quieting the voices in your mind, keeping calm, and listening to yourself breathe, the less complicated your life will be. This is a very simple recipe to living a fulfilled life.

More Tips on Living a Simpler Life

Featured photo credit: Nick Karvounis via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

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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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