Reach Your Full Potential Using Positive Psychology Techniques
For the last few weeks, every time I’ve picked up my phone, turned on the television, or opened a browser on my computer, one topic dominates the news.
It’s only natural; the coronavirus pandemic is rapidly altering every aspect of our lives. From our approach to work to our interactions with friends and family, news of the coronavirus and its spread influences even our miniscule daily transactions.
This onslaught of information — coming from all directions — has an impact on our health. For some of us, the anxiety comes in waves. For others, it’s more like a steady drip into our sanity bucket — and we know it’s just a matter of time before that bucket overflows.
Positive Psychology Can Help
In the 14 years I’ve taught in the field of Positive Psychology, I often hear colleagues issue the same dire warning: “If you don’t make time for your wellness, you will never be successful.”
It’s a serious message — and it’s especially true now.
As leaders, we are called to be strategic. We’re responsible for setting the direction for our organizations, getting alignment within the group, and inspiring commitment from our people.
That’s a tall order, and it requires more than just our physical presence (whether we’re working from home or in the office). As we rise to the challenge of leading effectively in a disrupted world, we must take care of our mental health so that we can meet our full potential on the job.
Make Time for Your Wellness to Reach Your Full Potential
By whatever measure we choose — career trajectory, paycheck size, a happy family — we often gauge our own success.
But “success” doesn’t necessarily correlate with achievement of true potential. By not addressing that element, we run the risk of leaving a whole lot of potential on the table.
Accessing your full potential is easier than you might think. Making even small changes in your daily habits can have a significant impact on your success, regardless of how you measure it.
These changes needn’t be major life overhauls. At CCL, we teach that making time for our wellness pays off in all areas of our lives.
4 Techniques Proven to Decrease Stress & Boost Potential
Specifically, I share with clients 4 of the only techniques that have been scientifically proven to decrease stress and increase well-being:
- Increase both your sleep quality and quantity.
- Get more exercise/increase your movement throughout the day.
- Develop your mindfulness skills (via various meditation techniques).
- Foster a culture of gratitude, at work and at home.
Making headway in any of these areas requires no more than 20 minutes a day — and often, as few as 3 minutes will do the trick.
How to Make Time for Your Wellness
By increasing each of these 4 areas — sleep, movement, mindfulness, and gratitude — you can take easy steps that move you closer to accessing your untapped potential.
1. Increase Sleep.
Time commitment: 20 minutes a day
Research shows that you lose one IQ point for every lost hour of sleep. Catch up by taking a quick nap during the day, and reap the added benefit of increasing both your alertness and productivity levels for the afternoon. Or consider a short nap between arriving home and having dinner with your family. Your partner, friends, or children deserve your attention, and it can be hard to focus if you’re nodding off.
If naps won’t work, set your alarm to wake you at the time you’ll actually need to get up. Hitting the snooze button may make you feel like you’re sneaking in a few extra minutes of rest, but you’d be better off letting your alarm go off 20 minutes later and getting up after an extra bit of restorative sleep.
Learn more about how sleep can make you a stronger leader.
2. Increase Movement.
Time commitment: 5 minutes a day
If you’re not currently able to fit exercise into your busy schedule, don’t feel you must jump headfirst into a CrossFit membership. Just taking a break and a quick walk can have immediate positive effects on your stress levels, creativity, and productivity.
These effects are even greater if you get that walk in outdoors, around some trees or greenery. Aim to increase your movement a little each day, and don’t forget to notice exercise that you are actually getting but may be ignoring.
Also, try these 3 quick workouts that don’t take much time and are easy to do from your own living room.
3. Increase Mindfulness.
Time commitment: 1 minute a day
Put a meditation app — I like Calm and Headspace — in the spot on your smartphone where your most commonly used social media app usually sits. You’ll be surprised, both by how mindlessly you open up the app without a thought, and by how easily you can fill the few minutes you might have spent scrolling with a grounding meditation instead.
You may like a short, guided recording, or you may prefer the timed sessions that just play background music — try a few and figure out what works best for you. A recent favorite of mine is Calm’s breathing meditation, which rings a chime as an indication to inhale, a chime to hold your breath for a count of two, and a chime to exhale. It’s simple and effective, and best of all: You can use it for a little as 60 seconds to help re-center yourself whenever you need to hit reset.
Getting into the practice of centering yourself — and becoming more mindful of your emotions and environment — will benefit you in a multitude of ways. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself more aware of the needs of your colleagues and family, or if you are less rattled by the constant change we all confront each day. Being mindful helps us to notice more things, both internally and externally, and thus navigate through our days more effectively.
Read more about how mindfulness practices can boost your leadership skills.
4. Increase Gratitude.
Time commitment: 3 minutes a day
Keep a gratitude journal. Use a book, use your phone, or use one of the many apps that offer this service, but don’t miss the opportunity to reframe your long-term mindset. Writing down even 3 good things every day will quickly train your brain to look for positives throughout your day. This will pay off both personally and professionally, as your happiness boost will be noticed in and out of the office.
If you want to spread the benefits of gratitude to those around you, you may wish to extend your thanks to others at work; this will help your team members feel appreciated, engaged, and supported.
Want to make this a daily practice? Once a week — I suggest first thing on Monday or last thing on Friday — spend no more than 3 minutes writing a quick gratitude letter to someone in your life. This can be handwritten or sent via email, but try following our widely-recognized SBI™ feedback model to make it quick, easy, specific, and impactful:
- Share the Situation. (This morning, just before our weekly call…)
- Describe the Behavior you observed. (…when you agreed to accommodate my last-minute request to reschedule…)
- Depict the Impact on you. (…I felt supported and grateful. I’m so glad to get to work with you.)
Sign it, send it off, and you’ve not only benefited from gratitude, but you’ve made someone else’s day better, too. Get even more tips on how to encourage gratitude in the workplace.
So, remember these 4 tips from positive psychology to help you boost your resilience levels, because while you may be successful by most accounts — including your own — you may still be falling short of your reaching your full potential.
Strengthening the foundations of your wellness (your physical, mental, and emotional health and happiness) equips you to seize all the possibilities that await and truly reach your full potential.
To learn more about how increasing your resilience will help you access your full potential, watch our webinar Building More Resilient Leadership for Greater Impact.
We also offer programs to help you understand how you can Maximize Your Leadership Potential. And our flagship Leadership Development Program (LDP)® equips managers and directors develop the resilience required to handle complex, rapidly changing conditions.