Diary / Lifestyle / Sep 26, 2022
Tips for Unlocking Your Full Potential
Written by: Michael Gervais, PhD
There are no hacks, tricks or shortcuts to unlocking your potential. If you want to live well, with a sense of vibrancy, all the while pushing to the edge of your potential, here are three daily behaviors to invest in:
Research suggests a daily routine of eight minutes of mindfulness can lead to greater emotional regulation, greater ability to cope with stress, reduced fatigue and better sleep. After you brush your teeth find a place to sit and just focus on your breathing. When your mind wanders, which it will, gently refocus back to your breath – suspend any judgment or critique of yourself for getting distracted. The goal is to simply pay attention to the present moment (breathing happens in the present moment) and when you recognize that you’ve become distracted – that’s the moment of celebration! That’s the moment when you strengthen your ability to become more aware; see it as a bicep curl for your mind. Hopefully you get hundreds or thousands of opportunities to become aware of distractions and without judgment, simply refocus on your breath again during your practice.
People who condition their mind to “be” in the present moment, end up tapping into what we call “mind speed.” World class athletes describe that when they are “in the zone” that time slows down. Time doesn’t actually slow down though. Rather, when they are fully connected to the present moment, they become “on-time” with the present moment. This becomes a game changer for not only performance, but relationships as well. When we are “on time” with the unfolding present moment, it allows us to pick up essential details that we might otherwise miss with a less disciplined, more easily distracted mind.
Getting great quality and quantity of sleep sometimes feels daunting. It’s incredibly important to maximize your efforts here. Try these behaviors for three weeks and see if it makes a difference:
Develop a pre-sleep routine or some consistent behaviors that are a signal to your mind and body that it’s time to shut down. Some examples of a pre-sleep routine could be taking a shower, brushing your teeth, reading a boring book, or three minutes of mindful breathing. Try one of these behaviors every night consistently within an hour of going to bed.
Another great habit is to separate from your technology an hour before you plan to go to sleep. Exposure to the blue light, that most of our hand-held devices emit, has been linked to delayed onset of sleep and a greater number of sleep disturbances at night, reducing our quantity and quality of sleep.
Create a cave-like atmosphere – try to get it as dark as possible and lower the thermostat to create a cold environment (68°F/20°C).
Many of the the world’s best thinkers and doers prioritize their life in such a way that they can get 7-9 hours of sleep a night, because they know it’s vital to their cognitive functioning, emotion regulation, learning, memory and immune system. You can do it too!
The science of optimism is incredibly exciting as it relates to both performance and wellness. In my experience, it also sits at the center of mental toughness and flexibility. I’d love to challenge you to train-up your skill of optimism. For the next seven days, become a researcher of amazing things. At the end of each day, write down three things that you either witnessed or experienced that filled you up with gratitude and why. For example, if you see someone run to open the door for another person who has groceries in their hand, the why might be “kindness.”
This activity is grounded in good science. On the first or second day you try this, you might not remember what you saw or experienced. The challenge here is to be a researcher of what’s amazing around you. This is a re-orienting of the mind to look for what’s good and wonderful in the world. Optimism is the very foundation of resiliency and having a high performance mindset. As Bobbi Brown explains on the Finding Mastery Podcast, “I never think something’s not going to work out. If it doesn’t work out, I just change things up and it’s an opportunity to do something different.”
Dr. Michael Gervais is a high performance psychologist working in the trenches of high-stakes environments with some of the best in the world, training the mindset skills and practices essential to pursuing and revealing one’s potential. His clients include world record holders, Olympians, internationally acclaimed artists and musicians, MVPs from every major sport and Fortune 100 CEOs. He is the co-founder of Compete to Create, a digital platform business helping people become their best through mindset training. He is also the host of the Finding Mastery podcast.