How getting into a ‘Peak State’ can help you tackle challenging situations
If you’re about to do something that is important for you or your business, or if you’re facing some challenges or tough decisions, or even if you are feeling stuck and searching for inspiration for your next move, all of these things get easier if you can get yourself into a ‘Peak State’.
What do I mean by a Peak State?
It’s a term that came up over and over at the epic Unleash the Power event I went to in London last month, hosted by personal development guru Tony Robbins. And it’s the number 1 takeaway I took from the event.
A peak state is all about feeling energised, motivated, positive, ready to take on the world.
Your state influences your outlook on life and your current situation. As Tony Robbins said over and over, “State influences decisions. Decisions determine life.”
If you think about it, when you’re in a state of enthusiasm and positivity you’re more likely to make growth-based decisions, compared with being in a state of negativity, when you are more likely to make fear-based decisions.
Those decisions influence what happens in your life. So your state has so much power over the direction of your life over time.
But we don’t always or easily feel energised, motivated, positive or ready to take on the world!
I’m sure you know what that feels like when you’re not in the right state. In your mind, you might be running through all the things you’re concerned about and what might go wrong. You might be hunching your shoulders or feeling tense. Your breathing might be shallow, and so on.
Making life or business decisions, walking into a meeting or getting on a call in that state is going to give off a different vibe and get you a different result than if you approach any of these scenarios with a sense of purpose and enthusiasm and personal power.
How to change your state “in a heartbeat”
Tony pointed out that we can, “Change our state in a heartbeat”.
So how do we do that?
His view is that there are three key factors that influence your state. When you recognise you’re not in a helpful state, you can change it by addressing any (or all) of these factors:
- Your physiology. What you do with your body impacts how you feel emotionally. You have the power to choose whether to feel energised or to feel lethargic. “Emotion is created by motion”. Some good ways to improve your physiology: Standing up, taking proper deep breaths, jumping up and down, dancing, stretching, or going for a run or other exercise. You also need to think about how you’re fuelling your body, such as whether you’re hydrated enough, whether you’ve consumed enough nutrients to help your body rather than junk that hinders it.
- Your focus. “Where focus goes, energy flows.” If you’re stuck thinking about how difficult your challenge is going to be, or about all the things that can go wrong, or how stressed you feel, you’re going to keep focusing on things that support those outlooks and deepen the downward spiral. If, on the other hand, your focus is on things like what a great opportunity you have, how you can definitely rise to the challenge and succeed, or how grateful you are, everything changes! You’re in a much more positive state and your mind continually searches for and finds things that support that state.
- Your language. Those thoughts streaming through your head (or even out of your mouth) have huge influence on your state. Change words like “I can’t” to “I can” or “I should” to “I must”. But also be aware of the effect that you let other people’s words have on you. I loved his phrase “how cheap is my happiness if I’m willing to give it away over a word,” or in other words why let others impact your own happiness because you’ve chosen to get offended or upset by them. Change the meaning and you change the emotion. Easier said than done of course, and this is one I’m still working on!
The key is to making this work for you is to be aware of your state in any moment where it matters and to work on these three factors to improve them and to get yourself into a peak state.
The benefits of a Peak State
When you’re in a peak state, you’re tuned into your own source of power and initiative. Ideas, insights and answers come a lot more easily. You can approach things with confidence and certainty and you can feel a sense of calm. You give off a better, more enticing vibe. You can make progress on things that are important to you.
Here are a few things I’ve been doing since UPW to manipulate my own state:
- Ensuring I keep up my morning routine. Focusing on breathing and visualisation, and doing yoga, even for 10 minutes, helps me feel calm and better able to handle school mornings (I notice the difference if I skip it – my tolerance level with the kids goes down!). This, in turn, sets me up for a better day overall. I have added ‘priming’ (see the next point) to my routine most mornings too.
- Priming. Tony walked us through a rather strange ‘priming’ exercise (which you can get here). It feels strange to do it but it’s a quick and easy way to raise the heart rate, energise yourself and get into a better state.
- Ramping up my activity. My exercise had been waning a little to two main sessions a week – I immediately set about figuring out my third session (with weights in the gym in addition to my two cardio classes). But every other work day since then I have also worked in some activity such as a proper walk.
- Dancing. Dancing was a big feature of the UPW event – all part of Tony’s plan to get people into a peak state to take onboard information and tune into their higher selves and ‘unleash their own power from within’. I happened to find that someone had created a public playlist on Apple Music with all the songs from the UPW event so I’ve used that during some gym sessions. I’ve danced more with my kids for fun. I have tried a couple of times dancing on my own before work. That feels a little weird but I need to get over it and do it more because it definitely puts you in a good mood.
- Using a trigger. In NLP-style, you can tap a place on your body when you’re in a peak state that you want to use to recall those feelings, or that state. So several times throughout UPW when we were dancing like crazy or feeling amazing (because Tony had walked us through some visualisation exercise or we’d taken part in some activity), I tapped my chest just below my left shoulder repeatedly to set the trigger up. This is the method that has been consistently valuable since UPW for me. I’ve used it since by recalling the feelings and the energy by tapping that same spot before meetings and calls, and I can feel the difference. It gives me a little jolt of energy and I feel more powerful – it may be in my mind of course, but whatever works! As a result, I approached those meetings and calls with more energy and enthusiasm.
- Catching myself in a negative focus and self talk and shifting it. There have been some challenging moments for me recently, particularly at work, but I am much quicker now to notice when my thoughts are negative. I focus on them and try to recognise what they are and where they come from. I then work to put them in perspective and focus on what I’m grateful for. Sure, my work challenges might be tough on occasion, but putting them in perspective reminds me just how lucky I am to be in control of my destiny, to work from home, to have the freedom I do. I think of the things I’m grateful for, and before I know it I’ve morphed my negative talk into positive talk and things feel much calmer and clearer.
I’ve found these approaches incredibly helpful over the past few weeks. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day issues or feel overwhelmed or unclear about next steps. But if you put yourself in a peak state, you can think so much more clearly and figure out your next best step and make better decisions.
For me the idea of improving your physiology really hit home because the day before I’d gone to the UPW event, I was feeling a little down. My husband suggested I abandon what I was trying to do and head to the gym. It hadn’t been part of my plan for the day so I wrestled with the idea briefly and then decided to go.
I was happy to get out of the house (I’ve worked from home for the past 17 years+), and I had a good workout. As exercise often does, it made me feel happier, calmer and more energised. As a result, I was then able to go back to the challenge I’d been struggling with, with an entirely different outlook and it felt much easier to hone in on my next steps. This feeling after exercise isn’t new to me or a surprise, but I hadn’t really ‘used’ it as a way to change my state purposefully before. I even wrote down in my bullet journal, “exercise and energy is key”.
And so it really resonated with me over the course of that weekend when I realised that Tony’s event was built around getting people into a peak state over and over. The event featured so much music and we were all encouraged to get up and dance like crazy over and over throughout the course of the four-day event. Great fun, but it meant that we were able to really absorb the lessons he was sharing, tune into our intuition, and focus on our future direction with energy and enthusiasm.
How this can help you
Next time you have an important situation to face, think about what you can do to move your body and get yourself energised. Recognise whether what you’re focusing on is helpful and if not, find ways to change that focus. Look at the language you’re using (or responding to).
See how that changes the way you face those situations.
Then think about what you can do longer term to trigger a peak state whenever you need it. Recognise the importance of moving your body and being active and do something to keep it that way! Constantly question your focus and thinking – is it helping or hindering you and find ways to improve it. In highly positive, exciting or inspirational moments, set up your trigger by tapping yourself in a single spot and then use that to recall your peak state whenever you need it.