As an executive at the top of your game it’s essential to be laser sharp, results focused and one step ahead of the pack. While addressing physical health and mental wellbeing is a given, looking after your cognitive health is a must.
It’s about ensuring consistency, operating at a sustainable level, seeking ways to further professional development, and starts with ensuring the hardware in your skull is in tip-top condition. The importance of eating healthily, getting enough physical exercise, sufficient sleep and taking time out to spend on those important relationships is easily understood.
The challenge lies in making the shift from intention to actually embedding the lifestyle factors that have been shown by brain science to positively impact mood, memory and cognition.
Identify your non-negotiables.
Just because Winston Churchill got away with 5 hours sleep at night, doesn’t mean you can or should even attempt to. You alone know how much sleep you need to be at your most effective. What counts is making that an imperative and taking steps to ensure it happens.
Similarly, if you know that you’re clearer headed and more energetic on those days you do exercise, blocking off time to make that happen is not an excuse to slacken off, but an investment to further your continuing best performance.
Check the software is operating smoothly.
Executive function isn’t just about being an executive. It’s the term used to describe your brain’s capacity in relation to central control, planning, strategy and flexible thinking along with working memory, episodic memory, speed of processing, and attention.
Assessing cognitive function allows for intervention should performance be identified as being less than stellar in any given domain. For high achievers looking to stay in the top stream, knowing how well your brain is operating is an opportunity to ensure you are working to your best.
This is about taking time out to explore other worlds that may not at first glance appear to have relevance to your own. Broadening your understanding of other industries, observing how they are seeking to overcome common challenges or develop new ideas can lead to new insights for what may be useful in your own sphere.
Keeping up to date through reading industry journals and associated literature and seeking to further up-skill your expertise, stretches mental muscle, builds stronger brains and leads to more effective thinking.
Unplug to refresh.
Stale buns are only good for breadcrumbs. Working too many hours and taking insufficient time out away from the office dulls the mind, reduces creativity and imagination, and potentially damages relationships, while also elevating chronic stress and fatigue. Taking time out to spend with family and friends keeps things real and sustainable.
Switching off includes taking regular technology breaks as this has been shown to reduce stress levels, provides a more accurate assessment of how quickly time is passing, and improves both social and emotional intelligence skills.
Peak performance is about bringing your best self to work each day, being capable of taking the highs with the lows and always being ready to explore what comes next.