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Published on December 29, 2020

Top 7 Self-Management Skills For Peak Performance

Top 7 Self-Management Skills For Peak Performance

If you want to operate at peak performance levels to achieve more in life, then it is important to develop critical self-management skills. These are the skills needed to manage personal abilities to be used in various areas of life. Whether you want to excel in business or your personal life, your success depends upon your ability to manage your own performance.

This article highlights 7 self-management skills you will need for peak performance. Each skill listed also includes an actionable item to help you get started. Master these skills for optimized performance and personal growth.

1. Hold Yourself Accountable

One of the most important self-management skills for peak performance is the ability and willingness to hold yourself accountable. If you say that you are going to do something, then make sure you do it. Take ownership of your goals and the work needed to achieve them. If you know that a task or activity requires a certain level of effort, then it is your responsibility to make it happen.

If you fail to act or the performance is not sufficient, then be honest with yourself and determine what changes or adjustments are needed to do better next time. Be true to your word.

Hold yourself accountable by writing your goal or commitment down on paper. You can carry this piece of paper in your pocket to serve as a reminder or dedicate a journal to these goals and personal promises. Writing it down makes it real and tangible. Reflect on what you have written a few times daily to reaffirm your commitment. Do this until you have completed the task.

2. Set Clear Goals

Have you ever set a New Year’s Resolution that quickly fell by the wayside within a few short weeks? While the media likes to give special attention to New Year’s Resolutions because it is a hot conversational piece, these goals are no more special than any other we might set throughout the year. Top performers know that sexy titles do not make goals any more attainable.

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Take action by setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals. Use the criteria below with your personal and professional goals.

  • Specific – Be specific with what you want and state your goal in simple terms. Boil it down to one clearly written sentence. Avoid ambiguity. Perhaps you want to lose weight or earn more money. Each of these ideas is a good starting point, but they lack clarity. Considering the examples noted above, an individual who lost only one pound or earned just one more dollar will have technically achieved the goal. But chances are that a goal setter would be disappointed with such insignificant results. That is why it is important to be specific by stating exactly what you want.
  • Measurable – Use numbers to help measure your results. This way you will know if you are on track to attaining your goal.
  • Achievable – This is your goal so make sure it is something that you have the ability to achieve. Assess personal strengths, skills, tools, and resources. Do you have everything necessary to achieve the goal or is something still needed?
  • Realistic – Determine whether the goal itself is realistic and can be achieved within the predetermined time frame.
  • Time-based – Put a deadline on the goal. When do you want to achieve it? This creates a sense of urgency and can be a motivator to get things done.

3. Develop Time Management

We live in a world filled with shiny objects and noisy distractions. Everywhere we turn, someone is trying to get and keep our precious attention. That’s why an important self-management skill you should develop is time management.

Have you ever logged onto social media to quickly respond to a message but an hour later realized you were still scrolling through your newsfeed or had fallen down the YouTube rabbit hole? If this becomes a habit, then those minutes and hours will add up and turn into days and weeks lost.

Here are two quick tips for better time management. To promote productivity, create time blocks, and schedule your most important activities for these time periods. To eliminate distractions, turn off notifications on social media apps. This is especially important while attending to activities within your scheduled time blocks.

Utilize the calendar on your smart device to schedule important events. There is also a wide range of apps to set reminders, track to-do lists and tasks, and keep yourself organized.

4. Be Self-Motivated

Some people are motivated by external drivers such as money, praise, or purchasing material items. Others are motivated by internal drivers such as feelings of satisfaction, fulfillment, or personal achievement. It is also possible to be motivated by both depending on the situation.

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When working towards a goal, here are three questions to ask that will help maintain motivation:

  • Why is achieving this goal important to me?
  • By achieving this, what will it do for me?
  • By achieving this, what will it get me or allow me to do?

If you find yourself losing motivation, then ask yourself these questions. You may need to go through these questions a few times to get to the deeper and more meaningful reasons that will serve as primary motivators.

Focus on your goal and continue to drive forward. You might not be successful on the first attempt, and that is okay. Get up and try it again. Keep going until you succeed.

Sir Winston Churchill said, “Success is the ability to go from one failure to the next with no loss of enthusiasm.”

5. Adapt to Change

One of the most important self-management skills is being adaptive to change. For millions of people around the world, 2020 provided a master class in learning to deal with change that nobody signed up for but were given front row seats to anyway. Change is a natural part of life, and we must be able and willing to adjust course when necessary.

Think about the last time you were driving somewhere and saw an orange sign that read “detour ahead.” Chances are you probably let out a short grumble and mentally prepared yourself for the coming inconvenience. While you had not planned for the detour, you navigated the situation and ultimately reached the destination.

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Develop flexibility by reframing the situation. In other words, learn to view the situation from a different perspective. The proverbial phrase, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade” is a perfect example. The situation might not be ideal, but you can still make the most of it. Learn to be flexible and adjust course as needed, while continuing to drive forward towards your goal.

6. Use Coping Skills to Deal with Stress

Playing at higher levels typically means having to deal with increased levels of stress. It naturally comes with the territory. Take a proactive approach to deal with stress by utilizing coping skills and having healthy outlets to channel negative energy. Effective coping skills could include activities like listening to music, going for a walk, reading for pleasure, or exercising.

How do your mood and behavior change when you are experiencing stress? Learn to recognize the signs and utilize the coping skills that work best for you. It might also be a good idea to incorporate activities like yoga or meditation into your weekly routine.

Readers who have never meditated before might like to wade in with an easy and relaxing walking meditation. Walking meditation is a form of moving meditation that is exactly as it sounds. Rather than sitting still to perform this meditation, the individual does it while walking. Moving meditations have the same benefits as their motionless counterparts.

Simply go for a 10-15 minute walk outside and focus on your breathing. Take deep calming breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth. Use this time to connect with your inner self and relax. This is your personal time, so leave your phone at home to avoid interruptions.

7. Institute the Habit of Daily Learning

Invest in your future by dedicating 30 minutes every day to learning something new. Advances in technology have allowed people to learn from world-class leaders and mentors at any time of the day in a manner that is most convenient to them.

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Download your favorite self-help books to read on the go or listen to the audio version in your car or while working out. Watch old TED Talks or attend webinars hosted by experts halfway around the world. Follow your favorite content creators on social media or subscribe to Lifehack and receive tips delivered directly to your inbox. Learning has never been easier.

Right now, the podcast industry is booming. There are currently more than 850,000 active podcasts amassing over 34 million episodes. Whether you want to get the winning edge in your market, advance in your career, or simply want to pick up a new hobby, there is a podcast that has exactly what you are looking for.

Final Thoughts

Practice these self-management skills every day. Make them a part of your daily routine to operate at peak performance levels and optimize personal growth. These self-management skills are transferable and can be easily applied and adapted in all areas of life.

Practice makes progress. Like anything in life, the more you do it the better you will become.

More Self-Management Tips

Featured photo credit: Paico Oficial via unsplash.com

More by this author

Rich Perry

Rich is a Communication Strategist who helps entrepreneurs craft their message and empower them to deliver it.

Top 7 Self-Management Skills For Peak Performance

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Last Updated on January 21, 2021

10 Willpower Hacks to Help Achieve Your Goals

10 Willpower Hacks to Help Achieve Your Goals

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“Willpower is essential to the accomplishment of anything worthwhile.” – Brian Tracy

“Just do it.” – Nike

The most important and satisfying things in life usually aren’t the easiest ones.

The good news: In today’s hyper-connected world, we have access to all the information we could want to help us achieve our future goals. We know what foods will make us healthier (would kale or quinoa be as popular without the internet and Dr. Oz? I think not). We can also estimate for ourselves the benefits of starting retirement savings early – and the implications for the lifestyles of our future selves (that boat at 65 means fewer vacations in your 20’s).

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We almost always know what we should do thanks to endless knowledge at our fingertips. But actually doing it is an entirely different kind of challenge. Most of us can relate to that feeling of inertia at the start of a big project, or the struggle to consistently make good, long-term choices for our health, or saving for the future. This mental tug-of-war we experience has evolutionary roots. While knowing this might bring comfort, it doesn’t help solve the problem at hand:

How can we flex our willpower to become better, faster, smarter, and stronger?

The bad news: you can’t Google your way out of this one.

Or can you? A fascinating body of research (much of which you can turn up online through popular press and academic articles) sheds light on how to hack your willpower for better, easier results in all areas of your life. The Willpower Instinct, a great book by Stanford prof Kelly McGonigal, provides a deep dive into these and more topics for anyone keenly interested.

Here’s the short version: we can make the most of our willpower through two types of hacks. First, there are ways to turbo boost your willpower. Second, there are ways to hack the system so you make the best use of whatever (sometimes infinitely modest) willpower you have.

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The following 10 tips draw on both of these toolkits.

1. Slow the heck down.

Most regrettable decisions (the splurge at the mall, the procrastination on the project, the snacks in the break room) happen when one part of our brain effectively hijacks the other. We go into automatic pilot (and unfortunately the pilot in question has a penchant for shoes, Facebook and cookies!). Researchers suggest that we can override this system by charging up the other. That is, slow down and focus on the moment at hand. Think about your breathing. Bring yourself back to this moment in time, feel the compulsion but don’t act on it yet. Try telling yourself, “If this feeling is still just as uncomfortable in 10 minutes, I’ll act on it.” Take a little time to be mindful – then make your decision.

2. Dream of ‘done.’

Imagine yourself handing in the big project, soaking up the appreciation from your colleagues or boss. Or crossing the finish line for the half-marathon you’ve always wanted to run. The rush, the aliveness, the wind on your face, the medal …

That’s a lot more fun and motivating to think about than how much work it is to get out of bed for your long, Sunday morning run!

Re-orient your brain by summoning more motivating feelings than just “not running this morning is more enjoyable than running this morning.” If your goals are meaningful, this will help.

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3. Make your toughest choices first.

Scientists have found that willpower is like a full bathtub that’s drained throughout the day. So, why not start your toughest challenges when you have a full reserve? Get that project started or fit that workout in before you even check your email or have breakfast. Bonus: the high you’ll get from crossing off your hardest ‘to-do’ will help you sail through the rest of your day.

4. Progress = commitment, not a license to backslide.

A lot of times people will ‘cheat’ right after taking positive steps towards their goals. (A common version of this trap is, “I worked out three days in a row, so I deserve this cookie.”) Most of us can relate to this thinking – but it’s totally irrational! We’ll often trick ourselves into setbacks because we think we deserve them, even if we don’t really want them and deep down we know they’ll work against us in the long-run.

How can you counteract this effect? Research finds that if you use your positive streak to recommit (“If I worked out three days this week, I must be really committed to my health and fitness goal!”) rather than an excuse for wiggle room, we don’t take the same cheat options. Cool, right?

5. Meditate.

Meditation is an expressway to better willpower. Bringing your attention to your breathing for 15 minutes, or even five, flexes your willpower muscles by applying discipline to your thinking. It does this by working two mental ‘muscle groups’: first, the set of muscles that notice when your attention is drifting, and second, the set of muscles that bring you back to your task at hand. Over time, even small amounts of meditation will help you build the discipline to easily do what was once hard – like pushing through a long stretch at work.

6. Set mini-goals.

Which seems more doable: committing to three 20 minute runs this week or a half-marathon? Mini-goals are brilliant because they’re easier to achieve and boost your commitment to continuing. When we size them up, we see them as achievable rather than daunting. Each time you succeed at one, it boosts your sense of efficacy and personal integrity: not only are you capable of doing what you set out to do, but you followed through on it. Nice.

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The beauty of mini-goals is that over time, mini-goals – and the momentum you’ve built by doing them – can quickly turn into super-goals. So that half marathon might be more likely to happen, and sooner and more easily than you think!

7. Eat.

Low blood sugar decreases your ability to make tough decisions. If you’re running on empty physically, you’ll also be running on empty mentally. (Yes, this one’s somewhat ironic if your goal involves changing food patterns – but even so, letting your blood sugar drop too far will only sabotage you over time.)

8. Sleep.

Research shows people who don’t get enough sleep have a tough time exercising their willpower. Sleep is critical for a healthy brain – along with just about everything else. So to optimize your willpower muscle, make sure you’re catching your zzz’s.

9. Nix the self-sabotage.

Making yourself feel bad hurts, rather than helps, your willpower efforts. Researchers have found that compassion is a far better strategy than tough love – telling yourself “It’s OK, everyone has setbacks sometimes,” will help you bounce back more quickly than negative self-talk.

10. Take the first hard step.

As a new behavior becomes a habit, it is more natural. You have to use less and less willpower to ‘make it so.’ When you’re starting a new pattern that feels hard, remind yourself that the first steps are truly the hardest. It will probably never feel harder than it does in those first few choices. In the case of repeated behaviors, like exercise or saving money, it takes weeks for new habits to take hold. By that point, the habit will be so ingrained, you’d have to try hard not to do it.

Featured photo credit: Kym Ellis via unsplash.com

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