Get yourself into the zone
Corina Roobeck & Paula Benetton
Here at The Zone, we have 3 Golden Rules that guide us in everything we do:
Get yourself into the zone
Help someone else get into the zone
Spend more time in the zone together
Today, we’re going to start by exploring Golden Rule Number One: getting yourself into the zone. We’ll talk about what it is, why it matters — and show you the path there.
So… What is ‘the zone’?
At the core of who we are as human beings, we find two key components: our being and our doing.
On our being side, we have our values, feelings and beliefs: the things in our hearts, that only we know about ourselves.
On our doing side, we have our actions, words and behaviours: how we express ourselves to the outside world.
When these two worlds come together, we are in the zone: the space where happiness and high performance co-exist. We feel fully present, engaged, energised, focused on the task at hand — and able to generate incredible results.
Neuroscience tells us that when we experience ‘being in the zone’, or ‘in flow’, we knock out our prefrontal cortex and literally quieten our inner critic. This lets us take more chances. We are less concerned about what other people think, and are more true to ourselves, our views and our insights. Our self confidence increases. We can process more information at a faster speed.
In studies of executives, the ability to deliberately operate from the zone has been shown to increase productivity by 500%. Imagine what you could do with that turbo-boost in all areas of your life!
But… are always in the zone?
Unfortunately, quite a lot of the time the answer is ‘no’. As human beings, we all have periods of time where we feel depressed, tired, stressed, drained, fearful, anxious… and that just scapes the surface.
Spend too long out of the zone, and there you’ll find burn-out, strained relationships and that ‘disconnected’ feeling. Negative energy sends out ripples, too: we all suffer when someone close to us is in a slump. If you don’t course-correct, things can break down, and break up.
So, how do you get back into the zone?
5 steps to get you in the zone
To find your path to the zone, you need to reconnect with your being side. And you don’t achieve that by doing more. Instead, slow down and take a moment to reflect. What really matters to you? What are your personal values? There’s hidden treasure in your answers, because they’re your signposts to the zone.
If you’re wondering about what we mean by values, we like this definition: “My values are my lifestyle priorities and preferences that express how I choose to live my life.”
You can use these 5 steps to find out what your values are, and use them to get into the zone:
1) Notice what you are passionate about
The first step is to know your passions. What fires you up? What gets you out of bed on a cold morning, or stirs you during a dinner conversation? What are you doing when your sense of time disappears? Which activities are you completely absorbed by, and which give you even more energy? Reflect on these questions for a moment.
What did you notice? Sometimes, just thinking and talking about our passions can make us relax and smile. And what we are passionate about gives us an indication of what we value. Which brings us to the next step.
2) Think about what makes you shine
Think about the moments in your life when you felt you were at your very best. What was happening, who was there, how did you feel?
It could be in your personal life, career, sports, education, spiritually, relationships — anywhere. Look for moments that made you feel alive and made your heart feel full. Times when you achieved outstanding results, personally and professionally. Write down your top 3 - 5 examples.
Now, consider this: what was it about these moments that made you feel amazing? Which values were being satisfied?
Perhaps one of your ‘peak’ moments was when you were designing something new — is creative expression important to you? Perhaps it was when you took the kids on a trip to a new country — is adventure, diversity or learning important to you? Write down every value that comes to you.
3) Understand what takes you out of the zone
What makes you frustrated? What makes you angry? What drains your energy? When are you out of the zone?
Make a list … and then reframe it: when you’re out of the zone, what’s missing for you? Community? Security? Wellbeing? What would you like to see more of in the world? Kindness, equality, appreciation, tolerance, patience?
4) Discover your top 5 core values
Now that you have more clarity on what’s important to you, follow this trail to uncover your most-treasured values. Simply cluster all the similar values together, and label each cluster until you come up with your top 5.
Remember, this is about you. So be true to yourself, and not to the expectations others may have of you.
5) Bring those values to life
There’s no getting into the zone without action, so it’s time to make a plan. Start small: what can you do right now, or tomorrow, or this week to bring your values to life?
It could be as simple as sending a text to a loved one, saying how grateful you are to have them in your life. It might be you taking some time this week to learn something new. Take action, and you’ll soon find yourself back in the zone.
We can’t avoid the challenges in life. Things will always happen that push us out of the zone. But whether we stay in that place is up to us. Use your values to course-correct whenever you feel feel adrift, and you’ll quickly find you’re spending more time in your zone: your definition of a happy and high performing life.