As I write this, today is the first full-on work day of the new year for many people. Most of us have hopes and dreams for how the year will go and what we’ll accomplish. Many of us have a long list of goals. Personal improvement, better health, professional accomplishments, stronger relationships, big projects, financial goals – any or all of those and others could be on your list. The lists can be so long they can be overwhelming.
What difference would it make if you could boil all of that down to one simple and memorable goal? What if your primary goal this year was to perform at your best more often than not? What difference would that make? What would that even look like?
That’s what I’ve been working on for the past several years. It’s one of those “It’s about the journey, not the destination,” kind of endeavors. There are days and moments when I hit the target and there are plenty of times when I don’t. But I’ve found that by keeping that primary goal of performing at my best front and center, I’m learning a lot about myself and generating better outcomes in life year over year. I’ve been sharing the processes I use for doing that with readers and clients pretty intensively and intentionally over the past couple of years and have heard a lot of stories about the difference it’s making for people.
So, with the hope that 2016 will be one of your best years ever, here are two suggestions for how to perform at your best this year. One is focused on helping you show up at your best in a typically busy day where your calendar is racked and stacked with lots of gear shifts between people and topics. The other is focused on helping you develop a Life GPS so you show up at your best throughout your life. Let’s start with the busy day.
At Your Best Throughout the Day
Whenever I run a leadership workshop, I’m struck by the number of people who acknowledge that they regularly show up for meetings and conversations without any prior thought given to what they want to accomplish in the exchange and how they need to show up to make that happen. To help with that, I give them a simple coaching routine to practice with a colleague in the room so they can see how easy it is to get clear about what performing at their best would look like in any given meeting.
You can do that too, either with a colleague or on your own. All you have to do is look at your calendar and pick a meeting or conversation coming up in the next few days that really matters. If you’re working with a colleague, tell them what the event is and ask them to ask you these questions, “If you were wildly successful in that event, what would happen at the end? What would people know, think, feel, do or believe as a result of the exchange?” Your job is to talk out loud about your answer for a couple of minutes. Then ask your colleague to ask you, “How do you need to perform to make that happen? What would I see in terms of your energy level, your body language, your tone of voice and other elements that influence how you show up?” Talk through your answers for a couple of more minutes. Based on leading thousands of leaders through this process over the past five years, I’m confident that you’re going to have a much better idea of what it means to perform at your best in that situation. Don’t have a colleague to talk with? No problem, take three to five minutes to coach yourself using those questions.
At Your Best Throughout Your Life
Now let’s move to the second suggestion – the one about performing at your best throughout your life. For that, you need to create your own Life GPS to help you live a more mindful – aware and intentional – life. It gives you a framework for asking and answering three questions:
- How are your at your best?
- What are the routines – physical, mental, relational and spiritual – that enable you to perform at your best?
- What outcomes – at home, at work and in your community – do you hope to generate by performing at your best?
The beauty of creating a Life GPS is it captures in a one-page reference point the connection between performing at your best and the outcomes you generate through your actions. Gandhi wrote: “In regard to every action, one must know the result that is expected to follow.” By focusing on performing at your best and incorporating the routines in your life that help you show up that way, you’re much more likely to accomplish the goals you’ve set for 2016.
Whatever processes or tools you use to get there, here’s to a year that exceeds your expectations.