Find Your Zone: How to Focus During the Toughest of Times
"How do you focus under the toughest of circumstances? Be it the loss of a family member, or unpredictable financial situations, how do you get your clients to stay locked onto their goals?"
The simple answer, "find your Zone," but there is a lot more that goes into that than you think.
First of all what is this, "Zone?" Whenever we get our clients to get into their Zone, we can describe it as the following:
Dark (for some)
Our competitors know that their Zone is one of their most private and confidential places that they can be in. It is a place where only you can go, being alone with your goals and being able to zone in on what it is you want to accomplish. It is calm, cool, and collected, but not "relaxing." Let's face it, when you become too relaxed and too low, you're not able to perform the way you want to because you're alertness isn't where it should be. And on the other end of the spectrum, when you're too high and energetic you usually experience what we call the "Zone wall," where you hit such a high, then crash rapidly because the high couldn't last long enough (think of your typical sugar rush; you eat a boat load of sugar, feel great for about 45 minutes to an hour, then nose dive straight into the ground like an airplane with no wings). Instead, we want you to be on the perfect level; not too high, not too low; not too relaxed, but not too excited. Ultimate balance is one of the best ways that this Zone can be described as, and only you are able to bring that energy into and out of your Zone.
When you're in this Zone, everything around you shuts down and all you have to focus on is the task at hand...at least that is what's supposed to happen. However, some people find it a bit tougher to get into their Zone than others making it tougher for them to be able to perform at their best. Some examples include: family situations, economical situations, small fights with friends, something that doesn't go according to plan (side note: you should never "plan," for something to happen, because 9/10 times there will be a situation you never planned for; instead, adapt), etc. And this is where we get onto the question asked this past week; distractions can get in the way of finding your Zone, even though it shouldn't. That is why the Zone is so crucial - it allows you to drop all the "baggage," you're carrying and focus on the one single task at hand for however long you need to. Because regardless of how much you push something aside it will still be there after the fact, so you might as well go all in on the task at hand that deserves the attention, then deal with the other crap after.
The Zone takes patience and practice, just like training, or preparing for a presentation. So, for the rest of this post I'm going to give you 5 ways that you can practice getting into this Zone. If you do them all you should see a massive increase in your Zone performance.
Before getting into your Zone it is crucial that you only have positive thoughts. Why? Simply because the Zone is no place to think negatively; when you're in your Zone you need to be confident in the fact that you're prepared and ready for the task at hand. For the rest of the time being in your Zone it is all action, no thinking. So, flood the mind with positive thoughts like: remembering how much you've prepared, understanding that you are where you are for a reason, and knowing no matter what you're going to do your best instead of try your best. If you leave everything on the table, you can't leave yourself thinking that you didn't do everything you could.
2. Quieting Your Thoughts
I'm not suggesting that you get into a meditative state (remember, the Zone is about the right type of balance and energy), but what I am saying is stop thinking. When you're in your Zone there is no time to over analyze and over think, instead you just need to perform. Forget about all the things that could go wrong or could happen, and instead just do.
This goes hand in hand with the first point; being positive means that you're confident. And being confident means that you know you can turn any negative situation into a positive one because you are able to adapt no matter what. Confidence is key to finding your Zone, and the only way to become confident is to prepare yourself to the best of your abilities.
4. Knowing Your Goals
This ties together with point number 2; when you're in your Zone you can't over analyze the process. So instead you need to stay focused on the end goal; I once had a coach tell me, "focus in on your goal like you're a horse wearing blinders. Everything around you makes a noise, but you can choose to hear it or not." It's simple - when you catch yourself over-analyzing stop and just remember what your task is. For example, when I used to play soccer I would keep that task in the front of my thoughts for the entire 90 minutes of play. I wouldn't let my thoughts go anywhere else; I didn't think of the technique I needed to kick, or how to catch a ball (I was a goalkeeper), but instead I would just focus on one word, "win." I knew that catching, kicking, saving, and all the other variables were just a process to the end goal. So instead I would tie everything together into one, not think about it, and just know I can win if I do what I have to.
5. Staying Calm, Cool, and Collected
This helps with the energy balance that I've been talking about; these three characteristics make it much easier to find that balance of, "not too high, and not too low." Staying calm means you remove the emotion from your performance and instead do what needs to be done - nothing externally can sway your performance. Staying cool means that you never get too riled up (hot), nor you never get too low (cold); instead you're just right (cool). And finally you're collected, meaning that you're not thinking or worrying, but instead all your thoughts and actions are collected to focus in on the end result.
If you stick to these simple principles and practice them regularly, you'll find out that getting into your Zone isn't as hard as it sounds. It DOES take a lot of practice, but anything that is exceptional does.