Peak Performance: How to Get “Into the Zone”

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Many people associate peak performance with sports and the arts, and that’s where its roots are found. When athletes and performers are in “the zone,” a state achieved by operating at peak performance, they are completely at one with what they’re doing and able to control their destiny—at least for a moment.

The idea of getting into the zone isn’t limited to those who operate on a big stage. You need the following seven essential elements to experience peak performance:

  • Strike a balance between the challenges you face and your skills.
  • Have total absorption and concentration on the tasks required—be completely focused.
  • Receive unambiguous feedback on the process.
  • Realize a sense of control or confidence in yourself/your vision.
  • Feel intrinsically rewarded.
  • Experience a transformation of time.
  • Identify clear and specific goals.

Moving beyond your comfort zone is an important first step. It might sound counterintuitive, but you have to challenge yourself—and even become uncomfortable—to be able to experience the benefit of being in the zone. Challenge actually leads to flow, an important peak performance determinant.

Being fully engaged, making continual adjustments based on your instincts and objective data, and combatting self-doubt with positive statements are other behaviors that will put you on the track to peak performance and being in the zone.

All your efforts can go for naught unless you know where you’re going—but you must not forget to focus on the process it takes to get you there. When you’re immersed in something, it’s often effortless, and time seems to fly by.  This is called being in the moment, and it takes nothing away from the end result, but is an important step toward achieving it.

What does your successful future look like? The answer is going to be different for everyone, thus it can add significant value to your peak performance journey to develop a strategic plan as well as a support system to help keep you on track to achieving your goals.

As part of your strategic plan, you should:

  • Create a personal mission statement
  • Identify outcome goals (production/assets under management)
  • Identify specific behavioral process goals that will lead to your outcome goals
  • Break down your goals into doable steps
  • Identify and commit to different activities and establish the priority you believe they should have

While you might not be focused on winning the World Series or taking home an Academy Award, you can learn from the process famed athletes and performers have used to achieve those goals. Set your sights on becoming a peak performer and working in the zone in your arena.

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