Originally published by Brian Alexander on LinkedIn
How often do you think about a big game or event on the horizon and channel your focus on whether or not you will win? Most people use this as the common approach to goal setting in performance. Who wouldn’t want to win the game or the championship? Ironically, when you focus on the result without a clear plan to address the process of accomplishing your goals then you will seldom achieve a successful outcome. Additionally, a focus on the process rather than the outcome helps performers center their energy in each individual moment of each play in each competition. The practice of mindfulness has been found to enhance attention control, emotional responses, and goal-setting which all contribute to the ability of a performer to experience a state of flow or being in the zone (Kee & Wang, 2007). The state of flow is usually experienced when you find yourself completely immersed in an activity as time slows down and all surrounding distractions cease to exist. You become completely consumed in what you are doing.
A process focus in performance goal-setting will also paint a clear picture of the path to mastery. Ultimately, mastery is what every performer aspires to achieve—to become the best they can become in their sport or profession. Training your mind in an intentional and systematic way gives you the best opportunity to find flow. While a state of flow or being in the zone will not guarantee your best performance, almost all peak performances occur when you are in flow.
Create every opportunity for yourself to find mastery over your performance and flow by breaking your goals down into actionable process focused steps. When you set goals structure them in ways where the measurable aspects are completely within your control, meaning they do not depend on the actions or circumstances of someone or something else. Learn to evaluate performance based on whether or not you accomplished your process routine. For example, if you are a baseball player and you have four at-bats in a game, rate your performance based on the number of quality at-bats you had where you executed your mental and physical plan (i.e. breathe, step in box, release point, eyes on ball).
Following a process focus in your planning and execution will help you achieve the results you want to see. As you practice over time, you will find ways to translate these skills to all aspects of your life. That is the beauty of all mental skills training. The skills are relatively transferable as you develop a deeper level of self-awareness. You will learn the mindset that sets you up for success in every situation.