The Secret To Your Best Performance: Intelligent Self-care

In an article written eight years ago, we spoke about tailoring for performance. Then and now, the basic principles are still holding. If you can’t find your comfort where you can, you make it. If you can’t find ease in your daily work load or everyday routine, take steps to create ease. You’ll last longer, you’ll do so in a healthier state, and you’ll be in a better position to lead your business.

Food for thought:
Elite athletes very rarely do it alone. To get to that level of performance requires a support team, especially at the Olympic level. For the right diet, rest, proper self-care, and winning mind-set you’d expect the following: a dietician and/or a personal chef, a physical therapist and a sports-specific  doctor, and a coach, just to start. This team would help support the athlete as they go through all the relentless hours of training to burn in muscle memory and raise their performance to the best it could be.

You may not be an athlete. You may not have the funds for such a support team. But you can still  take the actions necessary so you’re able to perform at your best on a consistent basis. And honestly, who else would be in a better position to act on what’s best for you than you?

Food for thought, part two:
Life can be stressful, but stress shouldn’t be a default state for you. Yes, it’s true that there are people who seem bullet-proof when it comes to stressful events and situations, but if you’re not included in that particular group, you still have choices on how to make life easier to weather.  It isn’t just however many road-blocks you encounter, or how many holes you have to dig yourself out of, it’s also the feeling that you’re not in control of anything.

On road-blocks and holes:
Going along with this scenario, how will you know if you’re a good driver? See, in a sense, this is what tailoring is about. Learning how to drive  is learning a particular skill that enables you to move and act independently. Learning how to ‘tailor’ in this sense, helps you have an easier journey. You prepare, you act, and you put yourself in a position to choose the best way the job gets done. You’re in control.

  • What, in your particular situation, is your ‘driving’ skill’? Are you prepared for dealing with ‘potholes’ and roadblocks?
  • What are the common obstacles you frequently encounter? What were their effects? How did you deal, and what did you to prepare if they come up again?

Related Series: Lessons From Defensive Driving (Parts one, two, three, four and five.)

 

The same principles for having a good road-trip still apply to having a good routine that supports you in performing at your best.  A clear goal is a definite end-point,  so doing stuff that takes you further away or in the opposite direction should obviously tell you you’re doing it wrong. Making sure you’re equipped for the length of the drive tells you to plan for pit-stops (breaks) and refuelling (rest and recharge), as well as being well-supplied with what you need to make the drive safely and comfortably.

You can only be on the road for so long without resting. Your tank can only reach a certain level before you need to refuel. Running on fumes won’t do you or your car any good, and will lead to problems over time. Identify what it is you can control, prepare for what you can’t, and make sure to take of yourself so you arrive in one healthy piece.

Without the mixed metaphors.
Between where you are  and the place you want to go, there forms a space where you can carve out a better situation for yourself with your actions. There are multiple approaches to improving how you do things, just as there are many ways you can draw a line between Point A (where you are), and Point B (where you want to go.)  the more specific you can be about the things you can do to make your work easier,  the better the fit to your desired goals.

First, you have to actually pay attention to what you’re doing. You want a better performance, you want to be more productive, you need to establish a baseline so you know what you’re starting out with. You do this by:

  • Observing yourself and what you do regularly every day.
  • Taking note of when you’re at your most awake, and when your energy slumps.
  • Looking at the activities where you encounter the most problems, and the ones which take your time and energy but offer little in real returns for you. (Hint: This is where the stuff you can stop doing resides.)

Then you look at these things, individually, and in connection with your whole habitual set-up.

  • Address the things and attitudes that hold you back.
  • Look at the empty habits that don’t add anything of positive value to your work or to your life. If they’re not helping, they’re weighing you down and taking up energy you can use for better things.
  • Address the stuff  and especially the habits that weigh you down, whether physically, mentally, financially, or emotionally. Or chronologically.
  • Look at things that can shave time off doing, or save time by letting go or outsourcing if you can’t.
  • Look at stuff that helps you perform better, and try to make them a habit.

Be realistic about what you can accomplish.
There’s always a price to be paid when you abuse your resources. Always. Whether it’s a battered immune system from too much stress, brain-fog, back-pain, or creeping weight-gain, there’s always a rebound effect — and that’s only the physical aspect. Abuse erodes and uses up healthy reserves, whether we’re talking about your body, your finances, or your mental and emotional health.

This push to do all the things and then brag about how much sleep you’re not getting is a loser’s game. Discomfort is not a virtue. Comfort is not a sin. We have to take care of ourselves. Nobody wins an award for burning the candle at both ends.  Be smart. Be creative. If you can’t find ways then make ways to take care of yourself.

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