Daily Focus for Optimal Performance
In the life of any busy professional, there are times we feel overwhelmed, as though things just aren't working well together. In those moments, we know we've sacrificed the most important for the right now. It happens all the time. Work deadlines are screaming at you — projects escalade. And there always seems to be a fire to put out. Sometimes, the distractions can be good things, but even then, it can overwhelm.
I spent this last week traveling. I flew from Salt Lake City, UT to Los Angeles, CA to Seattle, WA. I met with partners on new business ventures, all while maintaining the needs of my business, Leader's Voice. The days were long and full of visualizing, planning, creation, decision making, and strategy. It was exhilarating! And it was tiring.
I realized even though everything I was involved in filled me with excitement, at the end of every day, I was equally exhausted. I had fallen out of my routine. I had lost focus on what is essential for me to function well, to show up as my best self, and to be most successful.
Much like the “check engine” light on our car, we have an internal system that gently informs us when we may need to check our internal engine. Much like a car, if ignored, the results can be disruptive and costly. If we pay attention, we can refuel and maintain as needed for optimal performance.
I believe there are four areas of life that, if we prioritize and place the right focus on them, we will show up as our best selves. We'll feel good. It will lead to success on every level.
This is where P.I.E.S. comes in to enhance your life. The focus on the Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, and Spiritual is all very internal in nature and all very individualized. I believe these four aspects are so crucial to living a successful life that I often start my coaching sessions by taking a quick inventory of each of these with my clients. Like a car diagnosis, we can assess each area first to learn the current state. We then know if adjustments could be made for higher performance, greater peace, the foundation for forward and upward movement in all other areas of life.
Without this optimal performance and peace, we slowly lose efficiency. We won’t run optimally.
Though individual, they are tied together. When one is forgotten or not given the focus needed, there is a ripple effect that touches every other one. Finding the right measure of attention in each is essential.
We often hear the word “balance” when it comes to all we must consider in our lives. I’ve found balance is almost impossible. Balance requires an equal focus or weight on all aspects involved. Balancing these equally is near impossible, for one area may require extra attention for a day or even for a season. Our circumstances are constantly changing, which demands the attention or focus we place must also change.
Perhaps a better way to approach this is to find harmony.
Harmony means “…a consistent, orderly, or pleasing arrangement of parts; congruity” (dictionary.com). Harmonizing the Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, and Spiritual is key to harmonizing with the people in our lives and the demands of our lives. And it always starts internally. It is possible to find harmony between all.
Take a few moments with me now to evaluate where you are in these four areas.
The physical is often the right place to start. Because it is a tangible thing, we can quickly assess if there is lack or excess, or even harmony. A few questions I like to consider in regards to my physical well-being are below:
· Am I moving my body in the ways it currently needs? Though I love an intense workout, it isn't always what my body needs. There are times when yoga or a leisurely walk is ideal.
· Am I eating the right foods and in the right quantities? I am a total foodie! In fact, while I'm eating one meal, I'm wondering what I'll eat next. My body doesn't always need the same foods and in equal amounts. It varies depending on what is going on in my life. I try to be very intuitive when it comes to food.
· Am I getting enough sleep and rest? This is one of the greatest plagues of modern humans. We don't sleep enough. And we are very ill-educated on the poor effects it will have on all areas of our lives. Quality sleep is essential to high performance.
· Am I getting enough down-time? This may look like yoga, time in nature, zoning out, or even doing nothing. It may seem like wasted time, but it's imperative to good health.
If you are like me, your mind is continuously running. Some refer to this as "the monkey brain." It can feel daunting to manage my thoughts in a cohesive, positive way where it becomes my escape, rather than my prison. Attention to my mental health is imperative. I often reflect on the following:
· Are the majority of my thoughts positive or negative? Choosing the right thoughts is our privilege and our responsibility alone. Taking an inventory of the energy of our thoughts is key to choosing better ones, or to merely reframing our thoughts from negative to positive.
· What am I allowing to enter my mind? I rarely watch T.V. or listen to the radio simply because of the pervasive negativity that is so common. The same is for all media – movies, social, podcast – if it doesn't uplift, it doesn't get space in my mind.
· How am I stimulating my mind? This can happen in a multitude of ways – watching documentaries, reading a book, writing, journaling, having deep and meaningful conversations, even playing particular games. Whatever your method, it's essential to learn continually.
The emotional body encompasses so much – from our emotions to our connections with other humans, to social causes and our passions. In short, our emotional body is our heart. Most won't spend enough time nurturing or healing emotions. Yet when ignored, they can wreak havoc on all other areas from our body to our mind to our spirit. Just as a regular check-up is necessary for optimal performance of a car, the same should be considered for our emotional health. Consider the following:
· Can I feel things as much as I can think of them? I will often recommend my clients to take a few deep breaths until they are grounded and can actually feel through things, rather than think through them. Once we can feel, we can better act from a place of intuition and heart.
· How often do I connect on a human-to-human level? And is it enough? We may interact with people all day long, but are we truly connecting? As humans, we are built to connect. It fuels our hearts when we do. One effective way to connect is to serve. Finding a cause you are passionate about and connecting with others while doing so is always good for the heart.
· When was the last time I laughed and enjoyed myself? Laughter and enjoyment are immediate connectors to heart. They come from the heart.
· Have I loved well? This can be asked about how well I've loved myself to how well I've loved those around me. Considering this and then responding appropriately helps to heal and fill our heart, which helps heal and release our negative emotions.
No matter your personal beliefs in a higher power, it's crucial to focus time on your spiritual health. For me, my spirituality is focused on my belief in God, whom I connect to through prayer, meditation, and time in nature. I can feel this absence more dramatically than I can in any other area, and when I do, I ponder the following:
· Have I spent quiet time in gratitude and humble requests? Formalized or not, prayer is important for me to connect with a power much more significant than myself.
· Am I spending daily quiet time, to listen and observe? For me, it’s meditation. This is the time I can hear answers to the questions and requests I've made. Without it, it's much like a one-sided conversation, not very useful.
· Did I recently visit and spend time in nature? It's incredible the grounding and restorative effects time in nature has on us. Our society as a whole severely lacks Vitamin N (Nature). Those who do spend time in quiet solitude with nature are better suited to live in the hustle and grind of today's world and do so more mindfully.
Checking in with each of these on the daily will provide optimal performance and peace for all areas of our lives. Having a routine in place is one way to find harmony. A morning routine is especially useful. Find the things that fill you up; that give you the greatest R.O.I. for your efforts in each, and stick to them. Schedule them out if necessary, but be vigilant about it, even when a routine is compromised.
We aren't one person at work and another at home. We are one. When we influence one area of our life, we influence all areas. And these four – Physical, Intellectual, Emotional and Spiritual – are critical to the greatest success. As we lead well in our personal lives, we will naturally lead others well.
In what ways do you check-in to see if you're living in harmony? Please share in the comments.