“The ‘zone’ refers to a higher state of consciousness where we perform our best; it’s something human beings innately strive for,” says Dr. Michael Lardon, a sports psychologist and author of the book, Finding Your Zone. Elite athletes always strive to perform at this level, but many have a hard time getting there mentally. To help you out, we picked the doctor’s brain for a few tips on getting in your zone—and staying there.
Desire vs. Will
Lardon advises transforming your desire to do something into your will to do it. “With desire, you have this energy, and it’s just out there; but with will, you channel that energy at a goal,” he says.
“Take Tiger Woods for example. Everything he does always has a purpose, a goal attached. Everything you do in your life [should be] related to your goal: what you eat and drink, how often you [socialize], when you work out and if you train your mind.”
Lardon’s first suggestion to finding your zone: tackle something that is difficult for you until you succeed without any mental pain. Once you accomplish that, choose your athletic goal, learn everything about it, make a plan, then put it in place. “You must match action with desire by following the plan you conceived,” Lardon writes in his book. “When you do this, the process is now engaged and your desire has been forged into will.”
Check Your Motivation
The motivation you have to reach your goal must be pure, according to Lardon. “To do anything well, you have to work hard, stay consistent and be highly motivated,” he says.
To keep your motivation sharp, make sure the goal is yours—not your parents’, a coach’s or anyone else’s. “The deepest motivation is called intrinsic motivation,” Lardon says. “That comes from within, from the love of what you do.”
Lardon adds that when your motivation becomes less about your relationship with the game, you create tension within yourself and dilute your energy, and you can be too caught up in how people perceive you. Keeping your motivation authentic will help you “tap into limitless motivation, which can really take you to much higher levels of achievement.”
You can buy Finding Your Zone at drlardon.com.