7 Life-Hacking Skills to Authentic Success
Life-hacking skills serve to break through the beliefs and stories we have told ourselves about what we should do in life. Discovering the ways we are out of alignment with ourselves and in our relationships, then finding our way to the truth of who we are and what gifts we are meant to contribute. This is the path to Self-Actualization! As we look at our careers, spouses, parents, children and the tasks they carry.
Our personal vision
We create from visions somewhere deep inside of ourselves. If we aren’t continually and consciously aware of the meaning behind what we create from our vision, it can easily morph into something that becomes clouded by the duties of life. We lose the passion that ignited it in the first place. Imagine a flame burning bright – the vision, and drive behind that vision – the fuel, then imagine that light dimming ever so slowly as it runs out of that fuel. We aren’t even aware as it dims. However, eventually, it burns out. Irritation, depression, monotony ensues. How? Why? When? Why, did it creep in and we didn’t even notice?
This monotony can lead to disharmony in businesses, marriages, parenting. We become too focused on the business side of life. Then, bit-by-bit, we become out of balance with the emotional underbelly of the reasons we do what we do. The complexity of arranging time to connect with others and ourselves can become too much to honor our commitment to unwind and unplug. When we enter relationships – business, marriage, parenting – we do so with hopes, dreams and goals, and instead find ourselves in a daily grind. We follow the logic and lose sight of the emotion.
The often-imperceptible pivotal point happened when the passion turned into a job, duty, something that had to be done rather than something that was desired. Passion challenges the values society holds – money, status, recognition – those markers outside of our individual reasons for achievement. Meaning comes from the inside out. The higher role of the mind is to execute the truths of the heart. Shared meaning brings the heartbeat to accomplishments. Of importance is not what we do together, it’s how we interact while doing it.
The mind is a collection of habitual reactions. The mind is important but it cannot supersede the heart. Research shows 80% of thoughts are negative and 95% repetitive. Unconscious thoughts and feelings drive most of our behaviors. Outside of habitual thoughts are deep, creative and energetic inspirations calling us to live more authentically and fully. It’s challenging at first to begin paying attention to the cues and clues that the mind, heart, and body convey. Yet, it’s yield is the most powerful driving force to fulfillment and true happiness. This applies to
every relationship: marriage, parenting, friendships, work, social groups, and most importantly the relationship with oneself.
Creating intentional relationships requires recognizing our emotions as information pathways to discovering the meaning they hold. Using effective tools describe with accuracy, the desire that lies underneath. Emotions are powerful. They serve a purpose. Acting on our first impulsive emotion can lead to raw and unfiltered words and actions. Whereas, understanding the meaning behind anger, hurt, worry, sadness, embarrassment or a host of others, transforms these to be useful and powerful messages that create connection.
When we understand and foster the relationship within ourselves, we show up better in all we do. Knowledge of ourselves and connection with our internal blueprint provides the solid foundation to launch, create, and fulfill our desires. Self-determination theory describes three basic things humans need to be content:
-Autonomy – masters of their destiny and in control of their own behavior;
-Competence – build competence and develop mastery of goals and aspirations that are important
-Relatedness/connection – sense of belonging with others
EQ is not new
Over decades, much emphasis has been placed on IQ determining success. However recent research supports what was written about 80 years ago by Dale Carnegie in his book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’, “relationships matter”. The adages “it’s not what you say but how you say it” and “it’s not what you say but how you make them feel” are signs of our evolving understanding of the necessity for Emotional Intelligence at work and home. We may have the greatest education and ideas, but if we don’t know how to relate to people, these gifts, talents and messages won’t matter.
IQ vs EQ
IQ scores, which account for our academic learning, don’t tend to vary strongly over our lifespan. There is no consistent way to increase IQ. In comparison, our Emotional Intelligence (EQ or EI) can continually be improved. The investment to do so has many advantages. Increasing EQ is a wise time and relationship investment. It will benefit your financial bottom line as well. Think back to the brightest students in your class. Where are they today? Did their IQ alone take them to the top of their potential? The studies have shown 90% of people with high EQ earn higher salaries in all industries, at all levels around the world. That’s something you can bank on! IQ can get you in the door, but it is EQ that will take you up the elevator.
Increasing our self-awareness and understanding can balance and enhance every aspect of our lives. Emotional Intelligence supports health, wealth, management styles, marriages and parenting. It will take you far beyond the academic and financial successes so many are accustomed to achieving, EQ elevates the often-overlooked valuable area of relationship success. Conversely, happy individuals, happy family members, and happy employees increase personal and financial success. It’s a win-win for all.
EQ can be developed
EQ is one thing that can truly be controlled and increase overall happiness. IQ cannot create this happiness, despite the ongoing belief that more money equals more happiness. Fear and stress often rise with increased assets. The more stuff you have the more worry you have. If not balanced, what is truly valuable – relationships slip away. The research consistently shows (at all ages) next to having our basic needs met, relationships are the most important factor of happiness.
The IQ/EQ Iceberg
IQ and tangible assets are the tip of the iceberg (10%). What lies beneath the surface (90%) is EQ, the intangible assets. Our true mission in life is growth. The memories we leave behind define the life we lived. When we embrace growth, we become happier, take situations more in stride, open ourselves to options, and pleasure overrides pain in the ups and downs and all- arounds of life.
Missing the Mission
An ever-changing world shows scores of leaders, executives, administrators, parents, healthcare providers, coaches, counselors and teachers rely on logic and sidestep the people they are trying to support. The challenge with that approach; logic has no heart. Since we can’t speak logic to an emotional mind, we need to learn to relate, communicate and participate in our lives in a way that’s connective.
Need to be Heard
Simply think back to the last time you felt upset by someone; in traffic, in line at work or home. It may not even have been intentional! We all need to be seen, heard and understood before we are open to opinions and solutions. At our caveman core, we were emotional creatures before we developed logic. As we evolved, we leaned too much on our logical minds, bypassing the inherent necessity for emotional connection. The pendulum swung from emotion to logic, and now more than ever, people are struggling to find balance.
Problem Solving Skills
Developing Emotional Intelligence provides us the skillset to act when problems arise but before they are too big to solve. EQ also provides us a blueprint to prevent future emotional challenges and potential setbacks. This blueprint of our inner emotional landscape is
intangible; we can’t grab hold of it like a calculator. Understanding and developing EQ allows us to understand, recognize and manage our emotions, as well as support other’s emotions. We clearly navigate decisions and potential conflict, and achieve positive results.
The Very Real Dangers of Low EQ
People who fail to use emotional intelligence skills are twice as likely to experience substance abuse, anxiety, depression, and thoughts of suicide. Without alternatives, they turn to less effective and often dangerous means of managing mood. Additionally, increasing number of research studies link low emotional intelligence with susceptibility to disease, including cancer. The immune system is suppressed by stress, anxiety and depression. We become vulnerable and susceptible to the spectrum of everything from the common cold to cancer. The body and mind work together sending signals via chemical messengers. When in harmony and balance, the body holds the wisdom and the mind executes intention.
When the mind is flooded with stress it results in decreased energy directed toward disease fighting in the body. Most of us have experienced a stomachache, headache, or immediate onset of a cold when under stress. The release of cortisol in stress situations can lead to weight gain. Unmanaged stress can lead to unwanted pound resulting in disease and low self-esteem. A clear disconnect from body wisdom.
Developing strong emotional intelligence skills strengthens our brain’s ability to cope with emotional distress, resulting in a strong and resilient immune system and protection from disease; physical and psychological.
In our day-to-day experiences, one or two of our core Emotional Intelligence competencies are available to us at one time. We may be in tune with our Optimism and Independence but out of touch with our Reality Testing and Impulse Control. This may very well result in a great idea gone awry; a lost opportunity. Those core competencies may be in our areas of strength or challenge. Ultimately, we can be surprised by our own reactions, positively or negatively.
EQ assessments enable us to clearly define strengths and challenges and give overall direction to an “up level” life. Balancing the 15 core competencies of Emotional Intelligence gives us a roadmap to facilitate conversations, interactions and experiences within our relationships and help us and others reach goals and thrive. Life-hacking skills provide tools in the moment. The awesome combination serves both the short-term and the long-term.
Life-hacking skills require practice. They can feel awkward at first. Think hard about where you spend your energy now. Isn’t your ultimate happiness and fulfillment worth the time and effort? Research indicates 6 weeks to change a habit and six months to make it part of life. Like exercise, it’s a continual practice and investment.
Before bed, set your mind at rest and peace. Be mindful of what you are thinking, reading, listening to, and talking about. Your mind will have all night to marinate on those thoughts. Your thoughts before bed prime your thoughts and experiences for the next day.
Before getting out of bed, reflect on what’s truly important to you as you set conscious intentions for the day. What thoughts, feelings and behaviors do you tune into automatically? Are they in alignment with what you desire?
Contemplate your goals – short-term and long-term, big and small. Are the results reflecting what you desire? If not, change the channel of your attention. You may find your focus is on the habitual 80% negative and 95% repetitive thoughts. Find the vision that’s important. Determine the value and what you’re willing to invest.
What subtle or big changes would bring feelings that inspire you and others to go further and wider?
Notice whether those goals feel are in alignment with the bigger picture of you, not the goal. Are they helping you reach your true inner objective, the vision that calls to you?
Get yourself in the flow by exercise, meditation, yoga, whatever takes you inside rather than outside of yourself. Move beyond the obstacles of habitual thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Set your inside straight, and the steps involving the outside environment become clear.
Flow – key element is total involvement – wholehearted participation and dedication – where the magic of life unfolds.
Act consciously. What new choices, opportunities, ideas that have been hovering around, whispering in your ear that you’ve been ignoring? Bucket list big and small? That whisper is available 24/7 waiting for you to tune in and act.
Commitment to the collective good. Am I serving myself or others? This can be tricky. What may look like service to another, may actually disguise self-service. The quick way to know for sure is to notice your emotional response – boasting, disappointment, sadness, irritation or anger, if not acknowledged.
Pro-social acts – doing something for another person rewards the brain with pleasure hormones. Good feelings surface whether actions or deeds when acknowledged, or not. This brings forth group bonding and good feeling for all. Trust and safety establish connection. We are born to connect, have purpose, and collectively share our resources and experiences.
“Self-Actualization involves life balance. One executive expressed it beautifully: “I’m a lucky guy. I’m looking forward to going home to be with my family and all we will do this weekend. Come Monday morning, I’ll be excited about getting back to the office.”
Or as another entrepreneur told his team “It is never work and it is never play. It should be a combination of the two. The ratio may vary, but we should always be having some fun!” The last second shot, goal and touchdown pass are all filled with intense emotion and stress. But, it is the dream of every kid that’s touched a ball. And, it’s fun!”
About the author:
Barbara Morris Jensen, PsyD
Dr. Morris Jensen is a licensed Clinical Psychologist, Communications Coach, and co-founder of Mindful Behavior Strategies Inc. MBS serves individuals and businesses in transforming the way they relate, communicate and participate. Providing pre and post evidence-based assessments, specific strategies are identified and implemented to actualize personal, professional and relationship goals. Capitalizing on Emotional Intelligence skills, a roadmap is forged to authentic success.