Finding focus in the midst of complexity

Long Beach at Tofino: a wide expanse of beach and ocean with footprints going towards the water

“Better living through chemistry” was a Dupont advertising slogan from the ’30s. The slogan implied that with modern science, life is easier. The hope was that technology would give us more leisure time. Technology and science might be making life better for some of us, but life is not necessarily easier. These days many of us seem to be working more, in addition to juggling all of our commitments outside of work.1

What can we do about this increasing complexity of work? How do we counter this trend? Let’s take a look at how a few of our emotional intelligence skills can support us in simplifying and creating a more nourishing balance in our lives.

Let’s begin with self-regard. In order to make change in our lives, we have to believe we have some agency. The EI skill of Self-Regard is about accepting our whole selves. When we have strong self-regard, we believe that we are capable and we can be honest about our limitations. And we believe that we deserve to have a balanced life, not because we’ve earned it, but because all humans inherently deserve to have a nourishing and fulfilling life. This doesn’t mean we have to love every little thing we do, but that there is enough in our lives that is meaningful.

This brings us to the EI skill of Self-Actualization, which is about having meaning and purpose in our lives. If we are able to determine which tasks or areas of our lives have less meaning and purpose that can help us focus on what really matters most. Also, when we have many different activities in our lives outside of work that have meaning and purpose for us, that can help motivate us to have boundaries around our work time and have an overall more fulfilling work-life balance.

In order to take action on these ideas we also need the Assertiveness EI skill. This skill is about being able to say what we want and need, while considering the needs of others. When we practice our assertiveness, we’re more likely to say no, for example, to our boss if they ask us to work late one night when we’re really tired. Or, to say no to a social invitation when we actually need some time alone. Assertiveness skills allow us to thoughtfully articulate our needs even when they don’t fit with what others want of us.

In stark contrast to the VUCA2 world we live in, we can choose simplicity, focus and purpose. We can remind ourselves that it’s okay to make time for ourselves to be quiet, to listen to our own thoughts, to connect to what is most meaningful to us. And we can articulate those needs to the people we are closest to.

If this idea of quiet reflection time is really speaking to you, you might want to join us for our Writing for Emotional Intelligence online course.

  1. Some countries, cities and organizations are starting to make policies and laws against emailing or contacting employees outside of work hours. And there is increasing awareness and of the Right to Disconnect.
  2. VUCA is an acronym for Volatile, Uncertaint, Complex, Ambiguous –

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