Most of us have heard someone talk about being in the zone. Athletes are often interviewed after amazing superhuman performances, and they are asked “What happened out there you were amazing?”, then they simply reply, “I don’t know”, or “I was just in the zone”. So what is the zone, what happens when you get into it, and how do you get there?
What is the zone?
The zone is a magic place in time, where everything but what is happening right now disappears. It is a place where time stops, doubts and thoughts fade away, and only you, your task, and the eternal moment remain. The zone is a place of complete and total focus, you could actually say you stop doing what you are doing and you BECOME what you are doing. The zone is like water, if its in a cup it becomes the cup, it flows effortlessly without thought and becomes the act of what is is doing.
What happens when you get into the zone?
Magic. Pure magic. Being in the zone is like being in dream, there is no thought or consideration, you just act and react. Your focus is laser-like and nothing in the world can distract you from what is going on right now; you have complete confidence in yourself.
When you get in the zone, you do things people never thought were possible: you break records, and you shatter your own beliefs of possibility. When you come out of the zone, you might even look back with disbelief at what happened, hardly able to imagine that you did what you did. When you get in the zone, you lose yourself: you become the moment.
How do you get into the zone?
Practice and hone your skills to become automatic.
If you want to get into the zone for a performance, you must hone your skills into something that can happen without thinking about it. You aren’t going to go into the NBA and score 60 points in a game if you have never practiced and developed the skills you need to perform to such a high level. The key is repeating your practicing and drill to the point that your skills become automatic.
Relax, and keep your heart rate low.
There is a point where your heart rate can affect your performance and your thinking. It differs depending upon one’s physical condition, but there is a certain pulse rate at which even professionals begin to break down. When the body becomes so oxygen deprived that your heart must work overtime to pump blood to the muscles, blood flow to the brain decreases and mental acuity can suffer. If you want to stay in the zone, you have to stay relaxed and maintain your heart rate at a level that allows you to perform to your maximum.
Visualize, and prepare your mind for the unexpected.
Prepare your mind for things that could go wrong during your performance time and find solutions for the problems you may encounter. Do you very best to prepare for any possible contingencies so that no matter what happens you are prepared. When a test comes up and you already planned for it, not only will you perform better than if you hadn’t prepared, but it will actually increase your confidence. Likewise, by visualizing, we can picture things going the way that we planned, we get to imagine ourselves being in the zone, moving with confidence, and performing magic during our moment of glory. As our mind sees us get in the zone and perform well, it will be easier to make it happen in real life.
We must train our minds to react positively, even to negative events or failures. Making a mistake can take us out of the zone, but by developing the automatic reaction to view all things positively, a mistake during our performance will be less likely to derail us from the zone.
Focus your mind on a consistent thing that you can control.
When it comes time for your performance, focus on something consistent that you can control- like your breathing rate. Not only will focusing on your breathing take your mind off of your performance and what could go wrong, but it will also keep you calm as you perform. If at any point you sense stress building up and your heart rate increasing, just take a few deep breaths and focus on taking deep and relaxed breaths.
All of these techniques can help you get in the zone. Whether you are looking to give a speech, play a sport, go for a job interview, or meet with immigration, using these principles will help you perform to your highest potential. There is nothing worse than being ready and allowing the pressure of a good performance break you down. Be like water, be the eye of the storm, get in the zone, and stay there.