High-performance living is the ability to perform at our best to meet whatever challenges are put in front of us and do it consistently. To perform at our highest capacity in any area of our life requires energy, focus, effectiveness, productivity, stamina, and motivation. Those qualities are all affected by our physical and mental health. In particular, one of the most important and defining characteristics of a high performer is energy. Knowing that our energy is our most valuable resource means that we need to look at strategically protecting and enhancing it.
But as high achievers that’s not what we do. We resist downtime and renewal because we need to get things done and we have the perspective that the best way to accomplish this is by working longer and more continuously. We also get addicted to the adrenalin rush that comes from seeing ourselves do it all and by seeing external evidence that we are capable, skilled, efficient, and able to execute. We are entrenched in the “I can do this, I’ve got this” mindset. The shadow side of that single-minded focus on productivity is that we keep going even when we should stop, rest and take care of ourselves.
The signs of early stages of burnout are classic in many of my clients once they reached their early 30s. They come into coaching feeling like they are slipping because they don’t bounce back as easily as they did in their 20s. They have also begun to see themselves defaulting into reactive behaviors that reduce their effectiveness at work such as impatience, frustration, distraction, and disengagement. Many of them also struggle with cravings, binging, and extra weight—which is all linked to an inability to manage stress. They have been pushing the fast forward button for so long that they also might be having other signs of burnout such as digestive complaints, insomnia, lowered immune function, and migraines.
These types of symptoms are often a signal to review and learn to better regulate “enough” more fully in our lives. This is why our ability to think and plan upstream for active recovery strategies is connected to high performance. Aside from feeling better, periods of renewal bring mental benefits such as breakthroughs, a broader perspective, opportunities to think more reflectively, and also long term. Our brain functions better so we can be more creative, and resourceful. Active recovery allows us to thrive and when we thrive we can perform at the best possible level at work and at home.