Getting in the zone has great application for our everyday lives as well. It’s synonymous with employee engagement. I probably don’t need to tell you that engagement statistics at work are not necessarily the highest. The more we can enhance our ability to be deeply immersed in what we do, the better off we’ll all be.
There are six things (three to do, three to avoid) that will help you perform consistently at a higher level. Here they are:
- Have a Disciplined Pre-Competition Routine and Execute it the Same Way Every Time
Your “competition” may happen in the board room or on a sales call, but that doesn’t diminish the need for an Outperforming routine. Whatever you do, always do it the same (what you eat, drink, read, watch, listen to, etc.). You’ll feel a different level of concentration and comfort with what’s happening around you.
- Find a Challenge in Everything You Do
The zone happens when there is a balance of challenge and skills.
In my opinion, this is one of the biggest things missing for many people professionally. Being stressed and too busy to take a lunch break doesn’t mean you’re challenged. A challenge is when you’re forced to come up with smarter, more creative solutions to difficult problems. It’s not about doing more; it’s about doing better.
- Know your ZOF (Zone of Optimal Functioning)
Do you have a big meeting, call, presentation, proposal coming up? Where do you perform your best? Some people like to be keyed up with music blaring beforehand; others like to be completely relaxed. Whatever it is for you, use your breathing and movements to raise or lower it to YOUR optimal level.
- Control the Controllables
Worrying about anything other than what is in your control is irrelevant. If you can’t control it, refocus to something you can.
- Avoid Negative Self-Talk
Any amount of self-doubt and lack of self-confidence detracts from your ability to get in the zone. Use a power phrase of 1-3 words for positive reinforcement, such as “You’ve got this.”
- Be Present
Where are you at this very moment (mentally, not physically)? What has gone on in the past and what may go on in the future, good OR bad, doesn’t matter. Be crystal clear on exactly what is happening right now.
The difficult thing about getting in the zone is that there’s no sure-fire way to say, “If you do A, B and C, I guarantee you’ll get in the zone.” It’s somewhat fleeting. All we can do is focus on the components that will give us the best possible chance to have success.