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How To Always Be Yourself And Make Your Life More Fulfilling

How To Always Be Yourself And Make Your Life More Fulfilling

In a world that wants you to conform, follow the rules, and keep up with the Joneses, it can be really hard to always be yourself. And yet, it is completely necessary if you want to make your life more fulfilling.

Frustration, resentment, and unhappiness are just a few of the feelings that can come from trying to be someone else’s ideal version of you. On the other hand, contentment, joy, and peace are a few of the feelings that can come from being true to yourself.

It’s not always an easy path to take because it takes courage and vulnerability, but with a few key practices you can hold true to you and create a fulfilling life.

Take 5.

As a solo entrepreneur, being true to myself and taking a stand for what I believe in are integral pieces of building a business I really want to have. But there are days when all of the items on my to do list plus the distractions of social media, email, and kids running through the house can leave me feeling overwhelmed and questioning what I’m really doing… and who I really am.

So I take a break. Sometimes for just 5 minutes. And during that break, I turn off all electronics, walk away from my to do list, and find a quiet spot. This is an opportunity to breathe and reconnect to myself.

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After taking five, I feel centered and grounded. Like I’ve landed again. And from here, I can move forward again.

Action: Take a five minute break from everything. Breathe, meditate, go for a walk, or dance it out. But whatever you do, make sure it is something that brings you back to you.

Be kind to yourself.

I have days when nothing feels right. My jeans don’t fit, my energy is low, and I just don’t want to be around anyone. Least of all myself.

But rather than fight this feeling and force myself to smile and call a friend and be around people, I have learned to be gentle with myself. I let myself sleep in. I read a book. I eat what sounds good… without judgment.

Giving myself time to expand into the “not-right” feelings, allows it to pass sooner, and I find myself back on my path way faster than when I’ve tried to fight it.

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Action: When your inner bully is calling you names and when you feel “off”, do something kind for yourself. Take a bubble bath, take a nap, watch your favorite movie… but do it with love and without judgment.

Celebrate the small stuff.

We all celebrate the big stuff: you get a promotion, graduate from college, get married, have a baby, etc. But these events don’t happen very often.

When I first left my corporate job to start my own business, I had a constant sense of failure and dread. Nothing felt like it was going well.

But after a while, I realized that I wasn’t giving myself enough credit, and I was measuring success by outdated standards (aka getting the bonus checks and launching the multimillion dollar products).

So I started a practice of celebrating the small stuff. And by celebrate I don’t mean going out to a 5-star restaurant, sometimes it’s enough to just get a high five from my husband.

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Celebrating the small stuff is about acknowledging the good stuff that you make happen every day, whether that’s “I got one new subscriber” or “I made my first video” or “I landed my first speaking gig”.

And by celebrating the small stuff, you reinforce the good work you are doing every day. The little things that happen because you are being you.

No matter how big or small, every day there is something to celebrate.

Action: Take five minutes at the end of each day to list what went well (or your accomplishments).. at least 3.

Think about someone else.

No matter who you are, you have people in your life: family, friends, coworkers, neighbors. And you have someone who relies on you for something, whether it is for keeping a roof over their heads and food in the fridge or a smile, a helping hand, a friendly reminder.

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On those days when everything is overwhelming and frustrated, I think about my husband. Or my best friend. Or my stepsons. And I remember not just how important they are in my life, but what I add to theirs. This isn’t a conceited line of thinking. This is taking credit for what I bring to the table.

Whether that’s my sense of humor, supportiveness, uncanny ability to pick just the right gift, or the example I set. I add to their lives. This reminder helps me be more of who I am because I know that it’s important to someone else.

You are important to others. Remember that.

Action: When you get overwhelmed in your daily life, take a few minutes to think about who you impact by being you and doing the things you do.

Your life is what you make it.

How you show up, how happy you are, and how fulfilling your life is, are all up to you. You get to make the choices every day to step into courage and own who you are — or not. It’s not always easy to choose courage, but it is completely worth it.

Love yourself first, and the rest will follow.

Featured photo credit: Brandon Warren via farm5.staticflickr.com

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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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