Embrace “productive discomfort”

“You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

-Roy T. Bennett

We are always drawn to easier way of doing things. Many of us feel safe in our comfort zones. Convenience and comfort has become our default choice and many times it becomes a driver of our decisions. But the problem with convenience is that it makes us intolerant of things that are not within our comfort zone. It is very hard for us to do things that could be good for us like leaving a bad habit or learning a new skill. We fail to do so and tend to avoid taking action as it might involve a certain level of discomfort and unfamiliarity. We constantly try to avoid facing such situations that cause us discomfort which otherwise could fulfil some of our personal and professional endeavours. Most of the times, we relinquish many of our cherished goals because they fall outside of our comfort zone.

We make new goals, new dreams and develop new passions from time to time. We make new resolutions to change ourselves in order to meet those desired goals. But this desire to change also makes us reluctant to leave things that are familiar. For most of us, leaving our comfort zone is difficult because of the fear of the unknown which coaxes us right back into the known and old familiar ways. We might feel frustrated and annoyed about the fact that we have to leave our comfort zone. We often feel stuck to adapt ourselves to unfamiliarity and avoid anything that is not comfortable. To overcome this pattern of avoidance, it is important to learn to step outside our comfort zones and get accustomed to discomfort.

What is comfort zone?

The comfort zone is a behavioural space where your activities and behaviours fit a routine and a pattern that involves less risk and stress. It provides familiarity, security and to some extent some level of certainty. Within our comfort zone, we become comfortable with what is familiar and get used to a steady level of performance. This soon makes us complacent as we easily fall into comfortable habits and begin to avoid those which are not.

We avoid changing most of our habits and behaviours by rationalising our thinking and saying ‘this is not the right time.’ or ‘It’s not important for me to do it.’ We tend to structure our lives to avoid moments and tasks that cause us discomfort. But those are the things that are probably important for our personal and professional growth and to maximise our potential. We hold ourselves back by thinking it is better to stay the way we are in order to avoid the discomfort, stress and anxiety.

Why is it important to come out of your comfort zone?

We are comfortable in engaging ourselves in a familiar pattern, but sometimes they may not be serving your current goals. They may prevent you from making necessary changes and hold you back from reaching your full potential. You may not be open to new challenges, to learn, grow and try new things. You begin to underestimate your ability to make any kind of change by judging yourself and end up convincing yourself that you will never be able to make necessary changes. Such thoughts can influence your actions and keep you from doing things that you might otherwise would like to pursue and can cost you your own success.

But with little awareness, understanding and by making few adjustments, you can break away from your routine and can push yourself to make those necessary changes in order to pursue your goals and aspirations. By learning to stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone, you can open a lot of new possibilities and discover things about yourself that you could not have otherwise discovered. You might learn things that you are capable of and could achieve things that you could not have anticipated. You cannot be successful in achieving your dreams if you only stick to a comfortable habit pattern and routine. Sometimes you need to take risk of attempting something which is outside of your comfort zone as well.

Outside of your comfort zone

“ Life always begins with one step outside of your comfort zone.” – Shannon L. Alder.

Within our comfort zone, there is little stress and anxiety. We can anticipate things to certain extent and know what’s coming next and can plan accordingly. Whereas outside of your comfort zone, you are open to risks, challenges, and open yourself up to the possibility of more stress and anxiety. But sometimes, a little bit of healthy stress and discomfort is not all that bad and is required to provide motivation for us to achieve desired goals.

“Being slightly uncomfortable, whether or not by choice, can push yourself to achieve goals you never thought you could.”

But it is important to not to push yourself too far and enter the zone of bad stress. This if happens can interfere with your ability to work well, to learn and to plan effectively. Here are some benefits of getting accustomed to “productive discomfort.”

• It improves your performance by opening up to challenges and taking risks.

• Makes you more creative by trying new things.

• Lowers your fear of failure and creates openness to new experiences.

• Improves your curiosity, imagination, and drive to explore.

• You can deal with new and unexpected changes easily.

• Improves your productivity and you will be willing to push your boundaries by adjusting to what was difficult.

We know what we need to do to improve our lives. We say we want to change for the better. But we often are held back by our belief that sameness equals safety and change equals discomfort. The key is to be aware of whether your comfort zones are preventing you from creating change and to be willing to leave what is familiar to make the change you desire. Here are some ways to get accustomed to ‘Productive discomfort’.

Try new things

We have a tendency to only seek out information we already agree with and avoid doing new things. Seeking new experiences, learning new skills and opening yourself to new ideas inspire you to challenge your confirmation bias. You can see old problems in new light and take risks. By challenging yourself to things you normally wouldn’t do, you can experience some of the uncertainty and get used to tackle changes easily. Try changing your daily work routine or try some new activities and be open to new experience.

Decide to take the leap

One of the important factor to break out of your comfort zone is to find your source of conviction about why a task is important to you or why making that change is essential. When you face situations that are not in your comfort zone, even if you feel the discomfort, believe in your convictions. This way, you can fight through the discomfort to take that leap towards the desired change. You may come to realise that what you feared most is not all that true and in a way, slight discomfort becomes normal to you.

Take risks

Every time you open yourself to challenges and risks, regardless of their outcome, they provide you with learning experience and provide you an opportunity to utilise your store of untapped knowledge and capabilities. Even if you make mistakes and don’t get it right, there are always these experiences you have to tap into in future. Taking risks is important for your personal growth. challenges and risks expand the size of your comfort zone and you can cultivate openness to experience.

Do things differently

To stretch beyond your comfort zone, you need to make changes either large or small in the way you do things on a daily basis. For instance, sometimes slowing down is all it takes to make you uncomfortable especially if you are used to speed or quick thinking. If you are one of that conflict avoidant, you must embrace conflict. If you are an introvert, you have to do things which you have been avoiding like meeting new people or having different conversation. By doing things differently, you can expand your comfort zone and open yourself up to new possibilities.

Finally, Start with making small changes.

It is always overwhelming to step into discomfort and into the unknown. But instead of thinking of big picture, it will be easier to break down what you want to accomplish by making small changes. Getting used to ‘productive discomfort’ is to embrace new experience and to reach the state of optimal anxiety in a manageable way.

In conclusion,

Comfort zones exist in every area in our lives. To practice ‘productive discomfort’, be aware of which comfort zone may not be serving your current purpose or which comfort zones are preventing you from making the desired change in your habits or behaviour. If you feel that you are stuck in your routine, challenge your underlying belief and make small changes to your routine to slowly move out of your comfort zone.

Upgrade your Self-Esteem

Ambitions or goals give us particular aim and direction in life. All of us have certain ambitions, want to obtain and reach something or be someone or have something. For any ambition to come true, It is not always just about the ambition or climbing your career ladder or to get ahead in your work, but it is often more about how you do it…you must be confident in your abilities in striving for them in a positive manner and should not get controlled by negative characteristics like fear, greed, desire for fame or power. If you are controlled by these negativities deep down your ambitions and dreams can be crippled. Failing to address your inner fears and negative beliefs lowers your self esteem which further leads to unproductive and dysfunctional behaviours.

Don’t let your low self-esteem limit your ambitions

Most of us experience low self esteem levels at some point in our lives. This is particularly true among even highly successful and achieving individuals. This might be due to variety of reasons and varies in levels for different people. For some the reason might be when they are facing hurdles, they may not be stronger in overcoming them and easily give up. For some others it may be due to coming out of their comfort zones. More often we feel confident in our comfort zone. When things feel good and things feel familiar; you know what to expect, you know what to do and you feel at ease and in control. But the moment you step out of your comfort zone, some begin to feel stressed and this lowers their self esteem. Besides the skill, what decides whether you can achieve your goal or ambition is your self esteem. Healthy self-esteem provides you the motivation to give your best when faced with any difficult or uncomfortable situation in life.

What is Self-esteem ?

Self esteem refers to the way we feel about ourselves and is an important aspect of our emotional well-being. High self-esteem means that we are comfortable about who we are and accept ourselves for the way we are. Low self esteem means otherwise. We all at some points learn the traits of being confident and it is injected into our identity. Most of the times, we use self-esteem as a meter that reads out the state of the system, when you are doing well, the meter will register high. When you are doing not so well, it will register low. Many times we equal self-esteem to various other self concepts thinking it is the same. Here is how it is different .

1. Self-concept is not self-esteem. Self-esteem may be part of self-concept. Self-concept is the perception that we have ourselves.

2. Self-esteem is not self-image as self-image is based on false and inaccurate thoughts about ourselves. Our self-image may be close or far from reality.

3. Self-esteem is not self confidence. Self-esteem is more about the internal measure. Self confidence is based on external measures of success such as the trust in ability to deal with challenges and solve problems. One can have high self-confidence in certain field, but still lack a healthy sense of overall value or self-esteem.

4. Self-efficacy is not a self-esteem. Self-efficacy is the belief in one’s ability to succeed in certain tasks. It is based on external success than the internal worth.

What causes low self-esteem

Most of the times, the unrecognised and unacknowledged core fears are the root cause of low self-esteem which can lead to our unattained potential. Yet not all those fears are not necessarily bad. You can use them to improve your performance. If you are willing to address these fears or negative notions and beliefs of self as to where they are coming from, you can channel them productively.

Here are certain fears that lower your self-esteem.

Fear of being wrong

Harbouring this thought makes you focus more on rules, ethics, standards, and ‘ right vs wrong.’ This makes you deeply afraid of making a choice that will later prove to be objectively wrong.

Fear of not being good enough

Constantly thinking not being good enough makes you insecure, more focused on your image, and desperate to prove your worth. Because you are motivated by how you are seen by others, you may tend to fudge facts and lower your authentic inner worth.

Fear of missing out

This makes you to constantly seek new possibilities and experiences. The down size is it can scatter your attention and muddy your decisions. Pursuing multiple interests at once can lead to more frustration and confusion.

Fear of taken advantage of

Afraid of being seen as weak, you feel the need to win every battle. This can make you more defensive and controlling. The underlying anxiety can make you low on emotional quotient and suffering from not being good enough can further lower your self-esteem.

If you are low in self-esteem, you will have difficult time focusing on a task as you constantly doubt your inner worth. You even be justifying the self-doubt and will cause trouble which lowers your chances and opportunities in life. It creates a sense of hopelessness and low resilience. At times when your confidence runs low you might give into self destructive behaviours and self deprecating thoughts by going into a downward spiral. In such times, it is important to make a conscious effort to boost your self-esteem. You can rebuild your self-esteem and go after the goals you have dreamt of by believing in your abilities once again.

Ways to boost your self-esteem

Expressing personal emotions, attitudes and cognitive thoughts are highly associated with self-esteem.

Having healthy sense of self -esteem guides you towards accepting reality, thinking critically about your failure to achieve your ambitions, and problem-solving instead of wallowing in self-pity or giving up. With Higher self esteem you can accomplish what you set out to achieve. to achieve your goals, ambitions and the life that you want to lead.

Here are some strategies to upgrade your self-esteem.

Name your negative emotions and fears

Scientific research shows that naming the emotion can dampen the activity in the amygdala, which is the emotional hazard detection centre of the brain. This allows your brain to take back the control and become more aware of your emotions and to separate yourself from them. This helps you to take the edge off your anxiety and help you feel more in control. Simply acknowledge the emotion and name your feeling. You might say ‘ I am feeling angry’ or ‘ I am feeling pessimistic.’

List your ambitions

Write down your ambitions and aspirations. Writing them down can boost your motivation and get you fixed up in the right mindset to accept challenges and to take risks. This helps you in gaining more clarity and makes your goals more attainable than just thinking about them as a mountainous tasks. Write those things that really inspire you and give you a lift, the things you’d love to achieve.

Use social media positively

Studies suggest that social media usage negatively impacts self-esteem. Even though we need social media to interact, we also use those around us as comparisons to measure and track our progress in work, relationships and life in general. Social comparisons with unattainable standards is clearly a bad habit to get into because the image projected is often curated as polished and perfected appearance. Comparing yourself to others makes you experience negative emotions. You can use social media more positively by drawing inspiration and motivation rather than unhealthy comparison.

Stop yourself from dwelling on past

Dwelling on past mistakes and regrets, or worries about the future, can be very damaging for your inner self worth. Stop the cycle of frequent reviewing of past blunders and preventing future problems by engaging yourself in present moment awareness. Distract yourself from such self destructive thoughts. If you continue to dwell on some issue, structure your thought by writing it down and making a plan for either dealing with it in future or moving on from past regrets and failures.

Through meditation

You can develop self-esteem through meditation. When we meditate, we cultivate our ability to let go and to keep our thoughts and feelings in perspective. We learn to simply observe and loosen the grip we have on our sense of self. We gain the ability to become aware of our inner experiences without over-identifying them. A regular meditation practice can upgrade your self-esteem by helping you let go of your preoccupation of negative self. When you have the ability to step back and observe your fears and self deprecating thoughts, you begin to de identify the negativities that lower your inner worth.

Dealign with your fears

Understand and admit your fears if there are any. Take a close look at the choices you’ve made in the past and the reasons behind those choices. Spend some time considering what it means if you failed at something. What would happen if you took on an ambition that didn’t play your strengths? Acknowledge your fears and move past them. Align your actions and behaviour more closely with your ambition and not with your fears

Achieve your ambition with confidence

When you pick a big goal, break it down into small, manageable goals that are with in your power. Tackling one issue at a time can help you build required skills and improves your performance. You might not be able to complete all of them straight away. Figure out the first few and focus on them. Working out the tasks and challenges will gradually stretch you and build your skills towards achieving your ambitions.

Finally, Arduous self-examination of your fears can turn your self-esteem around. Acknowledge both your accomplishments and mistakes and have s honest and realistic conception of yourself. This will help you to keep a positive outlook and drives you to make positive changes.

Conclusion

If you want to boost your self-esteem. you need to start from within yourself and speak to your negative inner voice that says you can’t do something or you are not good at something else. Challenge negative thoughts by taking responsibility and change your mindset to positive. Boosting your Self-esteem will help you find the courage to try new things, builds resilience to bounce back from failure and makes more susceptible to success.

While you are working on your self-esteem, remember to

• Be less critical of yourself and others.

• Be assertive about expressing yourself.. your likes, dislikes and feelings.

• Be open to criticism and in acknowledging mistakes.

• Avoid dwelling on the past and focus on the present.

• Accept challenges and take risks.

• Value yourself and communicate well with others.

• Be optimistic and hold a positive outlook on life.

• Build strong and honest relationships.

• Have self-realistic expectations.

Embrace your inner leadership abilities

“True leadership of self and others starts with the mind and it is best thought of as a behaviour, not as a role.”

Everyday you come across your inner leader while making choices, decisions or in getting work done or in guiding others in your workplace or chasing your goals. It becomes very important to lead others in a positive way wherever you are or at whatever place you find yourself in life, be it personally or professionally. The true leader in us is always facing work reality day in and day out where we are constantly distracted by external forces, people and tasks, information overload, and are often interrupted by matters that are not in your control which needs your immediate attention. The pressure is always on as you are always drifting and trying to catchup living on autopilot without a clear sense of purpose and direction.

Whether you are aware of it or not, on some level you are continually leading and managing yourself and others. If you come under the day to day limitations and distractions no matter how expert your capabilities, skill and competence may seem, you fail to connect and inspire the people you lead in an organisation or in your personal life and would fail to value and flourish. You cannot manage or lead others if you have never learnt to manage, lead and discipline yourself. The first way to encourage the assets of others is to develop these within yourself first. In order to do this, you should be able to:

• Take yourself beyond your routine ways of thinking and behaving and lead yourself to higher levels of focus.

• Cultivate optimism, persistence, openness, high emotional quotient, and better interpersonal skills.

• Grow your inner focus which attunes you to your intuitions, guiding values and better decisions.

• Show self-restraint to inhibit your impulses and develop will-power and self-discipline.

• Have long-term goals to be able to focus on without getting distracted from all the clutter and distractions around.

• Shed your old habits, beliefs and older ways of working by asking whether the presumptions you are holding onto are true or not.

• Leave your comfort zone once you realise there is no growth and should be prepared to do or learn newer ways by adapting to change.

• Create an inspiring shared vision and the drive to achieve goals.

• Pursue a plan for improvement of self and others.

Performing right and required actions is the foundation for everything you want to achieve in life in general. You should not be predefined by what you are now, rather you should be able to recreate yourself by what you do. Your inner leadership skills further depend on achieving results in your own life or for your work place or for your people who believe in your goals. From this perspective, the ability to manage yourself and things you pay attention becomes important. By developing your awareness of self and others and applying it to manage your inner world and your relationships with others can improve your decision-making abilities and control your choice-making capabilities.

Success on the outside really does begin from within’. Here are certain qualities to develop to embrace your inner leader.

Self-awareness

In order to lead and inspire others successfully, you must be in tune with your inner leader by understanding your strengths and weaknesses. You must devote yourself to you own self growth to find meaning and live each day with purpose and intention. The more you come to know who and what you really are as a person, the more value you will be able to create. Identify what is most important and what makes you meaningfully different and authentic. Self-awareness will enrich your judgment and makes you aware of the consequences of each of your choices or decisions. This will help you to develop new strengths and have a positive impact on others.

Integrity

Your values determine whether or not you are in control of your inner leader. Align your actions to what you believe and say. Having high integrity helps you in doing right by making right choices. Sharing your values help others understand what motivates you and strive to learn and understand the values of the people you work with. This reduces the chances of future conflict and strengthens your interpersonal relationships.

Every time you avoid doing right, you fuel the habit of doing wrong. Always take a high road and make a tough and right choice based on your values rather than the easy road. Decisions aligned with your values help you to become more effective in leading yourself and others.

Right Purpose

“One cannot do right in one department of life whilst he is occupied in doing wrong in other. Life is one indivisible Whole – M. K. Gandhi.”

When you pursue right purpose, it leads you to do things that are meaningful to you and whatever is relevant to that purpose gets priority thereby eliminating distractions. Get people around you excited about a meaningful cause that contributes to the lives of others. Make decisions that support your purpose and focus on liberating their full potential through the work they do. Align and prioritise your actions to achieve results that matter most to you and to people you work with. Your commitment to right purpose and adherence to it will improve your leadership ability.

Self-discipline

If your goal is to lead and create the most value for your organisation or for yourself, then you must be able to perform to the best of your abilities. This can be achieved by cultivating self-discipline. More often, it’s not that achieving your goals is physically impossible, it is the lack of self-discipline to stick to them that keeps you from reaching your full potential. Self-discipline improves your will-power to overcome obstacles and moves you onwards towards your goal. Every act of discipline strengthens your confidence and helps you control your impulses while staying focused on what needs to get done. The strong desire for your purpose can act as a self-motivator to discipline yourself and to channel your energies in appropriate ways.

Right Focus

“Efficiency is doing things right. Effectiveness is doing the right things.” – Peter F. Drucker

The ability to manage your attention and having right focus is the key to bring out the leader in you. Increase in ‘on task’ time could have a significant improvement in leading yourself effectively to get more focused attention. Focusing your attention on right things and directing attention toward where it needs to go is a primal task of leadership. The ability to shift attention to the right place at right time can refine efficiencies and improve yours and everybody’s performance. By maintaining right focus on goals that matter to you , you can seize opportunities and can improve yourself to be innovative and productive.

Empathy

As important it is to know yourself, to bring out the leader in you, you need to like people and should have a passion to interact, listen and understand them. Develop a deeper understanding of people around. Be empathetic and sensitive to their needs. Understand what drives them and demonstrate genuine concern for their welfare. Guide them through challenges and always be on the lookout for solutions to help them get through their personal challenges. Paying attention to others needs and listening to advice and expertise helps you make right decisions that transform fear to hope by questioning your assumptions. Learn to listen and communicate with care.

“When you start to develop your powers of empathy and imagination, the whole world opens up to you.”- Susan Sarandon

Passion

Have genuine passion and enthusiasm for the work you do. Be excited about what you do and find the best in others and surround yourself with positive people. Pursuing a vision that makes you feel worthy and meaningful and helping others ṭo liberate the fullness of their talents makes you more passionate. Being passionate opens up new possibilities, this in turn, would lead to new choices and new changes and action. Your passion becomes an anchor to keep you from drifting during turbulent times. Being passionate helps you to see good in every circumstance and creates positive attitudes to the opportunities.

“Good leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” – Jack Welch

Persuasion

Develop the ability to communicate persuasively. It’s easy to get others to do what you want them to do if you’ll see things from their perspective. Avoid thoughtless actions and look for ways to passionately stimulate and energise people and deliver right messages that motivate and reassure. Praise them for every effort they put forth. When something isn’t going right, point out the one thing at the moment that they could do better and help them find the way without making them feel small. Motivate and steer them in right direction and help them be successful too.

Flexibility

There is no singular path towards solving a problem. Rather than rigidly adhering to traditional and outdated ways of doing things, remain flexible in your thinking and in management of others by adapting to change. Adopt new habits and cultivate new attitudes to embrace change. If your old ways are not proving to be of value, it is important to have the flexibility to re-examine and change the course as needed. Sharpen your skills, develop your talents to help you turn your weaknesses into strengths.

Determination

Be determined not to give up easily when things don’t go your way. Never run yourself down. View failure as opportunity and seek to better yourself and your circumstances. Esteem yourself not with egotism but with humble, realistic self-confidence. If you possess genuine confidence and live with an unshakable sense of who you are, you can be determined to achieve your goals. Make your decisions with clarity and act despite risk and doubt.

To Summarise,

• Be inspired by great purpose.

• Remain flexible and maintain openness to change.

• Accept responsibility.

• Be resilient in the face of obstacles.

• Create a sense of direction in your life having the foresight to anticipate problems or needs before they arise.

• Increase your mindfulness by constant questioning and listening.

• Have impeccable integrity.

• Listen to advice and expertise

• Be collaborative and make decisions by consensus.

• Motivate, influence and help people in developing new strengths or refining their abilities.

• Be receptive to insights, perspectives from other people and their perception.

Practice being “in the zone”

“Stress is caused by being ‘here’ but wanting to be ‘there’.”– Eckhart Tolle

“Anxiety is caused by a lack of control, organisation, preparation, and action.” – David Kekich

Goals are vital part of life, both personal and professional. Goals are different for different people and so is stress in achieving them. To a mountaineer, stress is the challenge of pushing physical resources to the limit of striving to achieve a demanding goal. To a student, it is the challenge to perform well in examination and to executives it is to withstand the competition and ambition of climbing up the ladder. To others it may be addressing different situations from managing work, to family and children.

Because everyone is driven by their goals, stress becomes a major and inevitable problem for many. Being exposed to stress over longer periods of time and without the necessary coping mechanisms can result in burnout and a state of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. This further leads to feeling tired all the time, failure to meet the deadlines, inability to stick to your goals and experiences of phantom aches and pains. Your personal productivity can be affected if this stress is poorly managed.

Stress & goal-striving

Stress is the inability to cope with a real or imagined threat to your mental, physical and emotional well-being which results in a series of psychological responses and manifests into health issues. Stress occurs when one is driven by compulsion to achieve what you are expected to or want to achieve. In striving for your goals you compete with yourself or with others to compensate for what you believe is lacking. At some point, we become caricatures of who we think we should be as our lifestyles become more external and we are driven by others rather than by our judgement of what we truly need.

Stress and work pressure becomes inevitable and solution lies in active management of stress.

Stress-management & Being “in the zone”

It is important to realise that everything is not just about goal-striving. Doing your tasks in a good state of mind and with good health is more important. This can be achieved by being “ in the zone” with your tasks. In many aspects, managing your tasks to attain your goals is more concerned with fundamental issues of doing meaningful work, mindful living and psychological well-being. Being “in the zone” with your goals helps you organise, do outcome thinking, provides clarity, and thereby reduces stress.

Being “ in the zone”

If you are ‘in the zone’ with your goal, you get intrinsically motivated and perform your tasks without being stressed about an external reward. Those who all in zone experience less stress as they are clear about what to pay attention to and have a complete picture of their commitments.

Checking whether you are being ‘in the zone’ is a simple and systematic process and the process involves comprehended check of your present direction with reference to what you truly want. Willingness to introspect lets you rediscover yourself. This can help you in making choices which are in alignment with your goals. This can help you distinguish between those things that dissipate your energies and those that add up to help you build the life you want.

Take little time to ask yourself following:

What to achieve?

Majority of times, stress is caused by the following situations:

• You know what you want, and you don’t know how to get it; and/or

• You don’t know what you want.

Most of the times, we create and identify with things that aren’t yet real on all the levels we experience; and when we do, we recognise how to restructure our current efforts to that particular outcome. Once you know what to achieve, you begin to be ‘in the zone’ and will more or less do your task automatically. If you trust that something you will more or less do automatically will provide direction and reduces stress. Having clear goals help you make better decisions about what to pay attention to.

What’s your next line of action?

Plan your work. Creating a cause-&-effect link in your mind about your next action will result in clarity, productivity and empowerment. You can really define the right action when you know the outcome you are after. When you organise and make plans ahead of time and decide what actions will be carried out in which context, you will be able to bring your attention to the appropriate things at the right time. Identifying those things that need focused attention and planning your next action keeps your mind relaxed and in the zone.

Are you in flow ?

Flow is the state of optimal performance and engaging your attention in what you are doing. Focused attention intrinsically motivates you. It is necessary that your skills match the challenge at hand. If the challenge exceeds your requisite skill level, you will experience anxiety and if your skills exceed the challenge, you likely feel bored and your flow gets affected. Flow is the complete concentration on the given task. When you have clear goals in sight with the right skill set and concentration, your action merges with your awareness and will allow you to engage more fully in the task at hand and ensures forward engagement in your plan.

How to be “ in the zone”

• Focus on what is important. Break down your complex goals into smaller and manageable ones. Once you achieve the little, you can set your eyes on the whole. Always commit to realistic goals.

• Do not expect fast results and easy outcomes. This makes you stressed and irritable. Take a break if you feel like you are on the verge of losing your calm.

• Discipline yourself not to put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Accumulation of undone jobs take up room in the mind and limits your clarity and focus.

• Don’t compare. Remember to calibrate your goals based on your own skill set, intellect and aptitude.

• Do not look for external validation as it can cause discontentment. Your performance depends on your skill set and efficiency.

• Be organised and review your direction of what you are doing and check whether what you are achieving is what you truly want.

• Monitor your mental and emotional state through self-observation and meditation.

Conclusion

Little time spent on getting to know your authentic self and bringing yourself ‘in the zone’ with what you want to achieve helps you lessen your emotional baggage of fears, anxieties and limitations. Make a list of possible sources of stress and attend to the issues that are a source of stress at the current time and work towards managing it.

“Doing something that is productive is a great way to alleviate emotional stress. Get your mind doing something that is productive.”

– Ziggy Marley