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Living in a Digital World: How to Thrive amongst the Chaos
A Medoo and VRM Performance Coaching Event for Spark Festival November 2023
Work-life balance is always a struggle to keep in check. It becomes especially difficult in today’s digital world where all of our devices and apps with their notifications and distractions pull us away from the task at hand.
For Spark Festival, we got together with Veronica Mason from VRM Performance Coaching to discuss how we can make high performance more sustainable. In this post we’ll highlight our top 3 take-aways from the session. If you’re interested in the full conversation, you can watch the video below!
First, some background on Veronica
Veronica is a high performance coach, an advisor to Medoo, and a good friend of ours. She has a background in law having worked as a technology lawyer at Google and Baker McKenzie. When she was a student at University 10 years ago, she had a terrible accident where she broke her back in six places. Not prepared to handle something like that, she discovered personal development and self-growth. She realised that it wasn't going to be her physical capacity, but her mental capacity that would get her to where she wanted to go in life. The results she has had in her recovery and life post-injury are nothing short of miraculous. When other people started to recognise this, Veronica started to share her knowledge and began her journey as a high performance coach.
Now onto our learnings.
Set up a system for success
When we talk about growth, goals always come into the picture. But being so focused on goals that you become overwhelmed can make you underperform. Achieving your goals can become easier if you don’t focus on the goal as much, but more on the system that enables you to reach that goal. James Clear's concept of atomic habits are a method for this. Atomic habits are small, consistent habits that collectively create a system that leads to achieving desired goals.
Take exercise as an example. If you focus on wanting to complete a marathon when you’re still a couch potato, you can easily become overwhelmed. You may miss a run once, and give up because it’s all too much. However, you can set up a simple system that will make it easier for you to go on a run: lay your running clothes out the night before and leave your running shoes by the door. Something simple like this can be instrumental in fostering a routine and helps you become the type of person who goes running often, bringing you closer to completing that marathon.
To integrate these new habits into your daily routine, try leveraging existing habits. Tacking a new habit onto something you already do consistently will make it easier to be consistent with the new habit, too. For example, brushing your teeth is an opportune moment to say affirmations in the mirror or think about goal-setting. Another example is to practice gratitude before going to bed. You can also use your devices to trigger events that can be part of your system. Like telling your Google Home to play a particular piece of music every night that will help you wind down.
Technology and dopamine
There is a strong allure to the notifications, rings and dings on our phones, and the feeds on social media. This stems from the fact that these platforms have managed to hijack the dopamine loop that exists in our brains, giving us little boosts through likes and the constant novelty of new posts. There is a growing understanding around the psychology behind our behavior and it is often considered a dopamine addiction. This can have a profound impact on your performance. Not only can these platforms become a time sink, but the flood of dopamine increases cravings and reduces motivation.
Resetting your dopamine levels is essential to create a solid foundation for wellness. To maintain a healthy relationship with these digital spaces, it’s important to be critical of your digital engagement and interact consciously. The intention is not to label these activities as inherently bad, but to recognise when a break is necessary for self-resetting.
So how can you go about this? A practical challenge to break the dopamine cycle can be to stow away your phone in a drawer for 12 to 24 hours. Perhaps on the weekend or during an outing. Passive rebalancing will also happen through natural sources of joy, such as meeting friends, engaging in gardening, or immersing oneself in nature. Actively self-reflecting through mindfulness, meditation, and coaching can also be effective ways to reset yourself.
What are your non-negotiables?
Wellness and high performance are multi-dimensional by nature as many things that contribute to wellness. However, it does help to think of them in a structure similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs where the more fundamental the item, the less negotiable it becomes for your well-being and performance. It is important to figure out which items impact your well-being the most so that you can figure out your own non-negotiables. Here’s a short list of some things to think of:
Sleep is crucial to our functioning, so getting enough of it can not be underscored enough. The minimum recommended amount is 7-8 hours a day if you are healthy and well, but could be more if you are growing, ill, or have other mitigating circumstances.
Quality nutrition is another big item as it can affect your energy and health much more than you might expect. For instance, certain foods like gluten can increase inflammation which can make a big difference for people in chronic pain.
There is great significance in getting enough sunlight in the morning and avoiding synthetic light in the evening as it helps regulate your circadian rhythm.
Getting regular exercise is not only a lubricant for the body, but it can be invigorating when it’s something that you enjoy.
Lastly, the importance of fostering connections, both with oneself and loved ones, cannot be underestimated as it helps people feel belonging, and purpose.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to how to manage your overall wellness, increase your performance, and maximize your growth. We hope that you have gotten some inspiration to encourage you to experiment, tailor your approach to your unique needs, and discover which tools and practices work best for you.
If you are keen to try out a high performance coach that can help you unlock your potential, you can check out Veronica at VRM Performance Coaching.