Seeking improved performance at work? Wishing you could finally achieve your sports-related goals? Merely looking for a way to get more out of everything you do? What follows are five basic skills (basic in that all top achievers know these skills and apply them in some form on a weekly basis) that will dramatically improve your performance.
Some people are more “visual learners” than others, but most everybody can benefit from the utilization of applied visualization in their lives. It is important to understand, though, that visualization is NOT the same as daydreaming. Think of visualization as power daydreaming. The results you get from the two activities are drastically different, though their process may be similar. The four keys to visualization are:
A. Use all your senses- the more senses you bring in to your visualization experiences, the more “real” it becomes for your brain. Remember-the brain seeks to make the “outside” or external reality congruent with the “inside” reality. Make that inside reality one that is vivid.
B. Be clear- make certain your outcomes are clearly set in your visualization. Do you succeed? By how much? How well do you perform?
C. Be positive (in your outcomes)-this might seem like a no-brainer, but it is important to make certain that your visualization is always positive with regards to tone and outcome.
D. Do it often!-as it has been said, repetition is the mother of skill. The more you do something the right way, the better you become at it.
2. Goal Setting
Most people subscribe to a well-known method for setting goals: Choose a goal, and make a daily to-do list towards attainment of that goal. Don't do this. Most people fail in their goal setting for that very reason. Why? Life gets in the way! Daily tasks, crises, emergencies, etc. steal our time and leave nothing for achievement of our ambitions. Some ways to improve your goal setting abilities include:
A. Make certain your goals are in line with your dreams
B. Make sure that your goals inspire you (the “get-out-of-bed-early” test)
C. Invoke specific strategy (what you want to do) and planning (how you will do it)
D. Get your priorities straight, and get them on your schedule. Get them done first, before anything else.
E. Do these things on a weekly, not daily, basis.
3. Focus and Concentration
What is the difference between focus and concentration? I define focus in broad, behavioral terms. Focus is the center of our life interests and activities). Concentration is more narrow, and deals with cognition. It is the directed attention of mental activities toward a single point of reference.
So how can this help you? Understand that success requires a broad focus on a goal (outcome) with subsequent narrow attention to it's attainment as time progresses. Geology, for example, teaches us great lessons about focus and concentration. Geology is merely the study of pressure and time. Given enough time and specific factors (focus), various geological formations are formed. Learn what geologists know: To achieve your goals, you will need to have a goal, and stay flexible in your approaches toward that end. Utilize concentration when specific instances occur in your life that will lead you closer to your goal.
4. Mental Toughness
Mental toughness is not what you think it is. Mental toughness is simple to define and difficult to execute (or everybody would be tough). Here are the keys:
A. Resiliency (the ability to bounce back)
B. Optimism (the ability to see the good in situations and events)
C. Proactive (the ability to act upon your environment)
Resiliency is important because everybody fails. The higher up you go in life, the more chances you will have had to fail. What is important, however, is how you respond to life's inevitable obstacles and potholes. Optimism is simply a better choice than pessimism, as it leads to hope rather than despair. There is always a positive lean on a situation if you are willing to look hard and long enough. Finally, being proactive puts you in the driver's seat to achieving your goals, as you are not at the mercy of your environment. Act or be acted upon.
Perspective is the key to mental health. It allows for proper life balance, and allows for simultaneous realism and optimism. To get a better sense of perspective, realize that there are only three things in life that you can truly control: Your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Focus your energy on those three things. Monitor what you allow yourself to think about and focus on. Doing so will allow you to gain true perspective, which is always grounded in reality, but hints of better things to come.
Copyright (2005) Leif H. Smith. All Rights Reserved.
Performance expert Leif H. Smith, Psy.D, is the president of Personal Best Consulting, a consulting firm located in Hilliard, Ohio. To learn more tips and techniques to immediately improve performance in your life and to sign up for his FREE monthly advice newsletter, visit http://www.personalbestconsulting.com