Peak performance is a state when you are at your best, delivering results, feeling in the flow. While there are challenges, you’re able to overcome them and you feel that life and work are easeful.
Ushering yourself in a state of peak performance at work is all about being motivated about the work, developing the right habits, staying productive, and managing your energy.
These apply to life more broadly as well, so it’s well worth getting to know yourself in these areas.
In order to be the best and deliver the best in life and in your career, then you need to observe the following:
#1. Being Motivated About the Work
The easiest way to stay motivated is to choose work that you enjoy, and activities that you’re both good at and love to do. Work that gives you what you need to stay energized and motivated.
When you have this kind of intrinsic motivation, you’re more likely to be super motivated, operating in a “flow” state, and achieving peak performance.
The truth is you will not always get to do or have the opportunity to spend time doing things you’re highly motivated to do. In those situations, it is wise to learn to re-frame the situation so that it fits into your bigger “why” or purpose in life.
For example, you might not be motivated to climb a tall mountain (think Mount Kenya). But if your loved one’s life depended on getting a special herb only available at the summit, you’d find a way to do it with urgency and energy.
A variant of that is to fall back on a transactional approach where you think of the benefits you gain from taking on the work you’re asked to do – “they pay me X for doing Y”.
Or you can delegate those tasks to someone who does feel motivated by that activity and let them perform it brilliantly.
So, what motivates you? Are you making use of that knowledge to make good choices about the work you do versus delegate, and to re-frame things when you have to do the work anyway?
#2. Developing the Right Habits
At other times, getting to peak performance is less about the big “why” and more about the actions you take (“behavior habits”) and the thoughts you think (“thought habits”) on a daily basis.
In terms of thought habits, I know from personal experience how much of a drag on performance negative thoughts can have.
Have you ever had such thought crossing through your mind: “What if I screw it up?”, “Why isn’t Steve calling me back – maybe he hates me?”, “Elizabeth’s much better at this than I’ll ever be.” And so forth.
Those kinds of negative thought habits are the equivalent of driving with the handbrake on. A definite drag on performance.
Begin replacing these negative thoughts with positive ones – “I can do this”, “Steve’s just busy – I’ll call him again”, “I can learn a lot from Elizabeth” – So that you can start making good progress both at work and in life.
If you adopt this kind of positive thought habit from the outset, it will give you a huge boost toward peak performance.
Behavior habits can just as easily hurt your performance, not to mention the performance of your team and organization. But often, it doesn’t take much to turn things around.
For example, if your negative habit is being late for meetings, then start getting ready 10 minutes earlier than you normally do.
If you’re usually afraid to speak up in meetings, then make it a habit to say something in the first 60 seconds so you get used to hearing your voice in the room or on the call.
If you’ve avoided building your network, then make a new habit of saying hello to everyone you pass in the hallway and cafeteria.
What’s one habit you want to change or develop? What would it mean to your performance to change or adopt that habit?
#3. Staying Productive
Alongside having motivation and the right habits, if you can get more done with the same or less resources – think time, money, energy, headcount – you’ll be miles ahead.
Plus, being productive means you can create that extra time for next level thinking and actions, or to recharge.
Some of my favorite ways to be more productive center around banishing obstacles like procrastination and perfectionism. That’s because I’m fine once I get down to business – it’s all the worrying and fretting that keeps me from peak performance.
If, like me, you’re also your own worst enemy on getting things done more smoothly and easily, then it can be hugely effective to take the approach of addressing the things that are holding you back.
I’m also a fan of creating systems and processes to help stay on track. For example, planning out my day the night before, having a focused set of goals for the next 90 days, and taking breaks during the day.
These can also tie into creating some of the helpful habits that we just talked about.
What do you struggle with when it comes to being productive, and what systems do you want to put in place to get yourself to peak performance?
#4. Managing Your Energy
The best thing about energy is that you can generate more of it.
Your energy is a renewable resource, while your time is not. That’s why it’s important to manage your energy and protect your time.
One way to manage your energy is to match your tasks to the time of day that’s best for you. Always remember that not every hour of the day is created equal.
Engage in the most useful and strategic segments of your life and work during your most productive or creative hours of the day while delegating (not ignoring) the admin segments of your life for later in the day.
What’s your best creative time?
The other big energy creators revolve around your health and wellness, both physical and mental – frankly, the two are closely related.
The three most important aspects for managing your energy for peak performance are:
Getting the sleep you need is core to peak performance, both physical and mental. You need 7-8 hours to stay on good form. And remember, naps count too.
Good and steady dieting will give you energy and help you perform well.
It’s about getting to know your body, and what kind of fuel makes you feel best.
For some people it may be eating smaller meals more frequently, getting more protein and eating as many fresh foods as possible.
To every day and year that you add into your precious life, you also come to the strong realization that you need to keep that “physical structure” in good shape and regular exercise becomes a command rather than a suggestion.
Failure to plan for regular exercises guarantees you a future of pain and low quality life.
Besides helping you age gracefully, regular exercises offers the benefit of making you to get more done than ever before.
So choose an activity you like to do, and go do it!
Now, it’s over to you… How do you achieve peak performance at work and in life? Share your thoughts with us.