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KEY POINTS:

1. A flow state, otherwise known as the Ideal Performance State or the "Zone", is when you're energized, motivated, focused, happy, and able to perform your best at a particular task.

2. This flow state can happen while playing a sport, while at work, during a performance or presentation, or simply when reading a book. 

3. Over the next couple of weeks, you'll practice identifying your zone moments and learn how you can reach this flow state on demand.

As we continue our Think Clearly module, I want to ask you a few questions:

Have you ever been completely focused and absorbed in a task, and then an hour later, you emerge from the flow and realize you have just done some of your best thinking ever?

Or had a day when you were working or studying or creating something and you understood all of the parts easily and everything came together as if by magic?

Or gone for a run and settled into a smooth rhythm in which your mind quieted down and you flowed through the steps, when running became easy and you were able to perform at a level you never knew you were capable of until that moment?

Just about everyone can identify with moments like these. At the same time, these moments can be rare and seem to randomly arrive out of nowhere. But when we explore the science of human performance, you’ll see that the flow state – “the zone” mentioned in the last article – is something you can achieve on demand and control.

In the research literature, “The Zone” is known as the Ideal Performance State (IPS). American psychologists Robert Yerkes and John Dodson first described the ideal performance state in 1908. Basically, their Yerkes–Dodson Law describes the activation–performance relationship. When our activation is low, we lack motivation, interest and energy. When our activation is high, we are agitated, anxious, stressed or tense. Think of activation as mental stimulation.

But somewhere between these two activation states (either too activated/stimulated or not activated/stimulated enough) there lies the magical ideal performance state. The state where we are energized, motivated, focused, happy, and able to perform at our best.

 

Your ideal state for a given task depends on the task. When I’m playing with my daughter, I have to be almost meditative, slow and calm. Before public speaking, I have to get really psyched up. I activate my body just like I used to before a swim race. I try to get a bit nervous so that I have great energy to start the talk. For television appearances, I have to have energy and clarity of thought and total focus. If you’re thinking about anything other than the topic of the day, the appearance does not go well.

The Peak Performance Zone exists between two extremes of low and high activation – and you can learn to get there! Knowing what you need – and how to ignite your body and mind to prepare for that demand – can help you build your own Peak Performance Zone. By taking some time to understand your own Peak Performance Zone, you can learn how to achieve your most productive mode in every area of your life.

Today's Power Up: Identify Your Zone Moments

1. DOWNLOAD THE ZONE WORKBOOK HERE.

2. THINK ABOUT TIMES WHEN YOU WERE PRODUCTIVE, ENGAGED AND FULL OF ENERGY – EVEN IF THE ACTIVITY WAS LOW KEY – WHILE ALSO FEELING A SENSE OF TIMELESSNESS. THIS IS YOUR PEAK PERFORMANCE ZONE.

3. MAKE A CLEAR LIST OF THOSE MOMENTS, TIMES, OR TASKS WHEN YOU WERE IN A STATE OF FLOW / IN THE ZONE. WE WILL BEGIN TO DECONSTRUCT THOSE MOMENTS IN THE UPCOMING POSTS TO SHOW YOU HOW YOU CAN ENTER THE ZONE ON DEMAND.

4. IF YOU WANT SOME FEEDBACK PLEASE COMPLETE THE FORM BELOW AND WE'LL GET BACK TO YOU WITH COMMENTS AND SUGGESTIONS.

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The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist Sky Regional employees with improving their general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. Sky Regional is not responsible for the content of this program which has been specially developed and is being provided to you by the Wells Group Inc., in consultation with Sky Regional. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release Sky Regional and the Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation.