Rachel's blog: My Journey into High Performance

clock Released On 06 February 2024

Rachel's blog: My Journey into High Performance

And just like that…

…It’s another January and a new year spans out in front of us.

This time last January I felt the pressure of ‘new year, new you’ like I have many times before – setting goals, hopefully achieving dreams and having something meaningful to show for going around the sun once again. 

But something different happened for me last January which transformed my 2023. 

I did some high performance coaching through my firm. This looked like 12 weeks of self-reflection, re-calibration and alignment. It was fantastic! I learnt an awful lot about myself; and though I don’t consider myself a bullet proof high performer just yet, it really helped to shape my thinking around my personal and professional goals.

What high performance looks and feels like is, obviously, an incredibly subjective thing. My take was that it was having a good relationship with myself; being happy in my body and the life that I’ve created and succeeding in the areas of life that mean something to me, over the long term. 

Reaching professional and personal goals and milestones was the kind of success I was hoping for. 

All too often we ‘kick start’ January with mountains of motivation, goals galore and a habit tracker we fill in with gusto. But then February and March pass by taking our motivation and habit tracking with them! The crux, many coaches would say, is being able to demonstrate high performance over a sustained period. The answer, I think, is less rather than more so that we pay attention to the small steps of progress that we can achieve during each week. 

So, for this, my first of my blog of 2024, I wanted to cover two of the habits I learnt– clarity and energy – both of which are pretty poignant for the start of a new year!

Clarity

To enable high performance in myself, I first had to master the ability to identify who I truly am and what I really want from life. Clarity can be elusive. It requires intentionality and focus but it pays dividends. People with high levels of clarity tend to be more motivated, confident and productive and I definitely want those things!

Even as a prolific overthinker, I found seeking clarity for myself daunting but it helped to consider who I was at my best and, conversely, who I can be at my worst. I pondered which personal qualities I liked in myselfand thought about the aspects of my personality I would maybe like to change or tone down. 

I was challenged to consider three aspirational words which describe me at my best. I had to play around with a list of possible words for a while, whittling it down and eventually settling on 1) loving 2) creative and 3) present. I’ve made my three words visible on a post-it note in my home study as a regular prompt.

I’m not sure whether my current three are fundamentally me or whether they may be words which just apply to this season of life right now. I’m ok with either to be honest and have learnt that my practice of seeking clarity is simply about being clear on who I want to be and how to align my life with that version of me. I can cultivate this; and I believe that not only benefits me, but those around me too.

Energy

If you’re anything like me, January is a month that can zap the last of the life from you. The fun festivities of Christmas are over and spring feels so far off. My energy levels at this point in the year can oftentimes be pretty low. But as a high performer I was challenged to understand that my energy levels affect my performance and to be more mindful of prioritising my mental and physical health and energy.

We are responsible for the energy we bring to things – personal and professional. Understanding this and being intentional with it has been transformative for me. I began to think more about how energised I’ve felt, mentally and physically in any given part of the year and now take stock regularly of my energy levels. 

I also found it immensely important to reflect on what (or who) drains me of energy, and what fills my tank back up. This awareness is invaluable for high performance and has really helped me in moments where I can feel the traditional triggers setting in. Over the past year, I’ve demonstrated to myself a high performance mindset when I’ve been able to catch myself going into a funk, take responsibility for sitting with it for a moment; acknowledging how and why I feel whatI do, before choosing how to react (often differently that I would have done before, I might add).

I recognised that my friendships significantly impacted how energised I felt. When I had quality time with good friends I was much more likely to feel upbeat, motivated and bring good vibes to my other relationships and my job. And I found that even a little bit of that energy could sustain me for some time.

In the same way, recognising stressors in my life and giving myself extra grace during times of stress is key for high performance living. Many of the resources on Work-Life-Central highlight how the negative impacts of stress can be devastating, so I found it really important to be alive to periods of higher stress and accommodate appropriately. For example, getting extra sleep, trying to keep eating well and giving my body an outlet for the cortisol. For me, at the moment, this looks like weekly PT sessions, swimming and Jiu Jitsu and I’m really chuffed to have just achieved my third stripe as a white belt (if you know, you know!). 

I found it so helpful to remember the following:

“stress + rest = growth” / “stress demands rest” / “rest supports stress”.

I was encouraged by the thought that even in my most stressful periods in life, if I’m careful with my energy and get the rest I need, I can continue to be a high performer and see progress and growth across all aspects of my life. 

One thing I also really took away from my coach, for when I feel low on energy, was the simple phrase ‘Music – Movement – Mindset’. Music is powerful and can quickly and easily shift my mood when I use it correctly. I love that I can harness that power! So now, whenever I need a little lift, I pop on the song which makes me smile and bounce around to it for a few minutes. I find my body thanks me for the burst of movement and the endorphins that creates and my mind is able to re-set (and lighten) it’s mood! 

Final thoughts

Since my coaching course last January, I enjoy trying to form a picture of how I’d like myself and my life to be…and then I endeavour to make that picture a reality one day at a time. I also feel empowered to choose what I bring to scenarios and relationships. I’ve been more able to bring joy to (nearly) every room I go into and I’ve definitely seen a positive shift stem from that.

A power station doesn’t produce energy, it generates it. And, now I’m my own power station!

Rachel is a commercial property lawyer who has worked in a range of private practice firms as well as inhouse. Rachel sees great value in building legal community and the sharing of ideas, both to support more efficient working as well as prioritising wellbeing and satisfaction in our legal careers. She’s passionate about motivating and mobilising those around her to make a positive impact in the legal sector and the wider world. Rachel loves to travel and spends the occasional spare minute day-dreaming about her next adventure.

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Lee Evans - 06/02/2024 - 17:38

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