Most people talk about peak performance when talking about sports or athletics.
But what about being peak performance in LIFE?
How do you become your best-self? The authentic and truest “YOU”.
The “You” that feels good all the time.
That has a deep sense of purpose and joy.
The You that is calm and connected on the inside and with the world around them? And at the same time has this incredible motivation and drive to “get shit done” and feel amazing while doing it.
Believe it or not, some people live in a constant state of “peak performance”.
While others have experienced short bursts of their “optimal self” and are looking to regain it.
I’ve been there.
There have moments where I’ve felt at the PEAK of my mental, physical, and spiritual self.
And since then I’ve been working to recreate that perfect storm of energy, motivation, focus mixed with a constant sense of calm, clarity, and connectedness.
Little by little I’ve been putting the pieces together.
Recently I figured it out…
Here are 6 elements you need to live life in a constant state of peak-performance:
Pursue goals that have deep meaning (FOCUS)
My first job was at a grocery store.
There were a lot of older people in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s who worked the same job for nominally more money. The majority still lived with their parents or a family member who supported them. They weren’t happy. They complained all the time. But they didn’t do anything about it.
I realized I never wanted to become like them.
But it had nothing to do with making more money, working in a grocery store, or moving out of my parents’ basement.
My goal was to never give up without a fight. To never complain and do nothing about it.
It was a goal with deep meaning and still guides me to this day because it is impossible to accomplish.
Meaningful goals drive us throughout our lives because they can be continuously transferred and applied to different situations.
They also drive, and give meaning to, other goals and objectives in our lives.
The biggest mistake we can make is to set a finite goal that, once achieved, leaves us without direction.
We need to stop setting goals based on an interesting mix of affluence, social status, and pleasure.
And start taking some time to reflect and determine a few meaningful objectives that will continuously give us FOCUS throughout our lifetime.
Inspirational books: The One Thing by Gary Keller
Learn to Observe your thoughts (CALM)
If you’ve ever had trouble sleeping, went through a day and said “man, where did it go?”, or finished a meal without realizing you ate – you’ll get this.
We have no control over our thoughts.
As much as we think we’re in control, we are at the mercy of our minds.
Thoughts, ideas, emotions, just happen. They’re like clouds passing in the sky.
They may be in the sky. But they are not the sky.
Same thing with our thoughts. They impact our decisions, our feelings, our mood, but they are not us.
The only way to overcome “mind-control” is to observe thoughts as they are passing through your head. Just watching them. Acknowledging that they’re there, without trying to control them. This is when the shift of power happens – and you put yourself back into the drivers-seat.
It’s not about getting rid of your thoughts. It’s about not getting lost in them.
We’re constantly thinking about the past, or the future, stressing, when everything is actually happening right there in front of us in the present.
The ability to observe thought is a learned skill (yes, effort and practice are involved) that will transform the way you experience life on a day-to-day basis.
Life is fast. Slow it down. You’ll make better decisions. I promise.
Inspirational books: The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle
Understand the WHY behind everything you do (MOTIVATION)
Life is filled with things we’d rather not do.
Understanding how our actions accomplish a deeper objective, gives us the motivation to continue do things that are necessary, but not always fun.
For example, I’ve always had a deep love for nature and the environment.
When I entered high-school, once upon a time, and realized they didn’t have a recycling program in place, I took it upon myself to start one.
I put bins around the school marked “recycling” and started to raise awareness about the importance of recycling and how it impacts the environment.
At the end of each day, I had to either take the bags of recycling home myself, or convince one of my teachers to take them, because the school “didn’t have resources in place” to support the initiative.
A year later, the school put “the resources” into their own recycling program.
It would have been a lot easier to ignore the whole situation, but my passion and love for nature and the environment, gave me the motivated to continue and pursue what I believed in.
Motivation can only happen from within, and a deep understanding of why it’s important to be motivated. If what you want is important, you’ll find a way. If it’s not, you’ll only find excuses.
Inspirational Books: Motivation Manifesto by Brendon Burchard
Reflect deeply and honestly on your thoughts and actions(CLARITY)
We all think, act, and do things we regret or wish we had done differently.
The important thing is to take the time to examine our actions and understand why they happened.
Real change happens when we decompose a problem and understand its root cause.
For example, let’s say you decided to start exercising daily, but for whatever reason, you’re not able to stick to your commitment.
Instead of going to an obvious like familiar excuse like being “too busy”, take some time to reflect honestly about why this situation is happening.
Maybe it’s because don’t you feel like you need to lose weight or you’re healthy enough. Maybe you started your diet for a reason that, after some honest reflection, isn’t meaningful and therefore you’re not motivated to continue.
When you take time to reflect from an honest and objective place, absent of outside thought and emotion, you will get meaningful answers.
Try examining other familiar objects, actions, ideas, and experiences, on a regular basis. You will uncover a deeper meaning and understanding of your life that you never saw before.
Inspirational Books: 5 Elements of Effective Thinking by Burger & Starbird
Create routines and turn them into habits (ENERGY)
Habits are a powerful tool to give you energy and direction on your journey.
Success doesn’t happen overnight; having a daily ritual is important for staying persistent and accomplishing your goals. The deepest purpose in the world is nothing without the right strategy for accomplishing it.
We often create overambitious goals with unrealistic timetables that cause us to get discouraged and crash when things don’t go our way. By creating a routine, you eliminate that mental deadline. You continue to persist even when things are not going your way. When you face adversity, you continue to work.
It is so important not to get distracted from working on your goals. Because you know if you defer one day, for whatever reason, you’re going to be twice as like to defer the second day.
You need to be prepared each day to dedicate yourself to your mission.
Trying isn’t good enough. You need to do the work.
Inspirational Books: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Have love and appreciation for everything in your life (CONNECTEDNESS)
Love is a powerful emotion that creates a deep sense of connection.
But our minds are often so distracted that we forget to love and appreciate what we have right in front of us.
The insatiable need to accomplish and have more, is a major source of unhappiness in our lives.
We work hard to get what we want, but lose interest as soon as get it.
The dream home you saved years to purchase suddenly, becomes too old, small and cramped for your liking; the luxury car you bought suddenly turns into shit-box as a newer model comes out; the exciting promotion you worked so hard to get, turns into an overworked, under-appreciated, and under-paid job from hell.
We are on a constant treadmill in search of the next level of satisfaction.
That’s why we need to prevent ourselves from taking things, we worked so hard to achieve, for granted. The easiest way to appreciate the things we already have – is by imaging we lost them.
Imagine losing everything important you have in life on daily basis.
Negative visualization is a technique I use to instantly create sense of connectedness, love, and appreciation for life.
In William Irvine’s book A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy he describes this idea by comparing two fathers – one who uses negative visualization and one who does not:
“To see how imagining the death of a child can make us appreciate her, consider two fathers. The first takes [this] advice to heart and periodically reflects on his child’s mortality. The second refuses to entertain such gloomy thoughts. He instead assumes that his child will outlive him and that she will always be around for him to enjoy. The first father will almost certainly be more attentive and loving than the second. When he sees his daughter first thing in the morning, he will be glad that she is still a part of his life, and during the day he will take full advantage of opportunities to interact with her. The second father, in contrast, will be unlikely to experience a rush of delight on encountering his child in the morning. Indeed, he might not even look up from the newspaper to acknowledge her presence in the room.”
Try spending some time daily and imagining you have lost everything you value – your house goes up in flames, your car gets stolen, you lose your job, your son, daughter, wife, husband, sister, brother dies.
It will renew your connection and appreciation for the things you already have.
Inspirational Books: A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Are of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine
I was very lucky to have experienced peak-performance at a very young age. But it was my mistake to assume everything would continue as easily as it started.
Like anything worth having, there needs to be continuous work and effort.
And the good news is that anyone can achieve the same feelings of energy, focus, motivation, combined with calm, clarity, and connectedness.
This has become a part of me that will continue for my lifetime. Because I know if I do this consistently, then I’ll be my most authentic, best, and peak-performance self.
There’s no one thing that will make you high-performance. It’s a combination. Without the ability to observe your thoughts and calm the mind, you will never be able to truly reflect deeply on your thoughts and actions. Without focusing on a goal that has a deep meaning, you will never have the motivation to continue when things get tough (and they will) because you won’t understand why you’re doing it.
While there’s no order you need to master each of these 6 elements, if I were to create a roadmap of what needs to be done, here’s the order:
High performance can be a lonely place. It means saying no to many things. It could mean becoming a very different person then you are today, your relationships will change, some people won’t be happy. But if you’re being true to yourself, and you truly love what you’re doing, and have a deep understanding of why it’s important, then the rest shouldn’t matter.