We’ve all heard of being in the zone. (Michael Jordan on any given day might ring a bell.) Whether it’s work, sports, or a passion project, you know what it feels like to be so engaged, time flies and you feel unstoppable.
However, this “in-the-zone” mentality can feel fleeting or tailor-made for athletes or CEOs. But it is possible to find and maintain in all aspects of your life.
I am a naturally competitive person. I like to win, I like to learn, and I like to push myself and grow. For some, they label me as Type A. Type As are known for being competitive and rising to every challenge. So being in the zone should be reserved for these people alone, right?
Not even close.
Achieving a performance mindset is not about perfection (or even competition). It’s about performing your best to achieve your goals. Any person can live purposefully and in the zone on a daily basis. At the job you’re not sure you love. At the gym when you’re tired. In the meeting you almost slept through.
It all starts with mental preparedness and a little thing I like to call knowing your desired outcome. To know your desired outcome, you have to possess a balance of focus, awareness, and mindset.
Let me give you an example. When I do high-intensity interval training at the gym (otherwise known as HIIT), I start off with a clear, desired outcome. I want to make sure I maximize my workout for calories burned and overall fitness. I don’t walk into the gym without a plan or wander from machine to machine. I set a goal before I get there, and I know the desired outcome I’d like to reach by the time I leave.
On my intense days, I try to hit 1,000 calories within my target heart rate zone. With new technology such as Myzone, Fitbit, or Whoop, it is easy to measure and manage all of this. However, it is not always easy to achieve it.
So how do I make sure to reach my desired outcome? Usually, I start with clear focus on my desired outcome. About a quarter of the way through the workout, I become aware that my legs are starting to burn and it feels like my heart is going to explode. I start thinking about why it might not be a good day to work so hard-I didn’t sleep well, my knee kind of hurts, blah, blah, blah-and I start to reflexively slow down.
Then, I look at the Myzone board. I see my heart rate drop from the top zone to a lower zone. My focus sharpens. I start pushing harder. My purpose for being there starts to motivate me a little more. I reconnect to my desired outcome.
As a result, my mindset becomes recalibrated. It connects with the times in my life that I have successfully achieved. I am no longer aware of my burning muscles and racing heart; however, I am aware of how alive I feel. I am the zone. My body is going full out, and as a result, I feel completely alive.
While this is great for exercise, how does it translate to work? It all comes back to one thing: harnessing your attention. Often in high stakes meetings, things can get crazy. During those times, I pause and ask myself: is my attention appropriate?
Appropriate, you might ask? What does that even mean? This concept is really broken down into three questions.
This simple question- is my attention appropriate? -usually resets my attention and helps me make decisions when I’m in the zone or trying to get there.
So whether you want to stay in the zone at work, on the court, or anywhere in between, here are a few daily strategies to help you achieve your desired outcome.
Whatever it is that you want to achieve, stay focused. Stay in the moment, distraction-free, and make it a habit to set and reach your goals.
It all starts with attention. Where’s yours?
Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com on May 24, 2018.
Originally published at medium.com