David FullerUnless you are a manager complaining about your employees’ lack of performance, most of us don’t consider our own performance on a regular basis. But we should.

Our performance is typically defined as the level at which we can accomplish our tasks and goals as they relate to the expectations of our employers. If we are self-employed, we may consider our performance directly related to the success of our business. Either way, when we reflect on performance at work, most of us have a long way to go to achieve what we consider optimal performance.

So what can we do to improve our work performance in our daily lives? Here are five things that affect your performance at work that you might not be considering.

Undefined goals

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Unfortunately, most people and many organizations lack clarity when it comes to goals. When our team is working with leaders, one of the first things we often do is a goal-setting exercise where people take the time to write down their goals for the next five years or so.  

Once we have clarity about what we want to achieve as individuals, we can see how these align with the organization’s goals. Individually we may have goals that may seem unrelated to the business, such as saving money for a house, putting kids through college, having stable relationships, or raising healthy children. We forget that we work in order to achieve those personal goals.

How clearly can you define the mission and vision of your organization, and how is your job related? When we fail to recognize the purpose of our jobs and lack clearly defined Key Performance Metrics that we are expected to achieve, it is impossible to perform at high levels. How many of your employees are not performing at the level you expect of them because you have failed to give them clarity about what is expected of them?

Challenged emotion management

I recently worked with a sales professional who blew a whole week of work because someone within his organization tried to cheat him out of a commission. When we dissected his performance, he was able to recognize that he let his emotions get the best of him, and as a result, his performance was dismal.

How often do you spend your mental energy worrying about things that are beyond your control? How many times has your performance been affected by things other people have said or done that are unrelated to your work? Managing our emotions takes effort and practice. However, good emotional health is key to performing at high levels.

Poor nutrition

Most athletes know that what they eat and when they eat affects their athletic abilities. However, when it comes to work performance and ability to perform, we overlook the effects of nutrition. The fact that you feel sleepy at work, have brain fog and lack energy or motivation may be directly related to your diet. The effects of blood sugar inconsistencies, lack of iron or other nutrients like B vitamins, and inadequate protein levels have been shown to significantly impact memory and brain function. Your performance or lack of it might be related to your diet, and the chances are that you haven’t linked the two.

Lack of exercise and sleep

While you might believe that your nutrition is great, the reality is that 69 per cent of adults in North America are overweight according to the website Healthline, which references government statistics. If you are one of the many struggling with weight issues, these could be linked to your lack of exercise and sleep issues. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, one in three people don’t get enough sleep. The challenge with lack of sleep is not only that there is a significant effect on performance; too little sleep also affects metabolism, energy output, and blood sugar levels. Getting enough sleep and exercise can improve brain oxygenation, leading to better brain function and improved productivity.

Lack of planning

How often have you found yourself overwhelmed and unable to complete your tasks in a timely manner? Typically, this is due to a profound lack of planning. Many professionals fail to perform at their ultimate levels because they have failed to plan appropriately to ensure their success. Scheduling your days, weeks and months to allow you to accomplish your tasks and avoid distractions is key to high functioning performance. When we find ourselves jumping around from task to task without completion, there is a good chance that we haven’t planned our time properly to enable us to complete jobs effectively.

Your performance and the performance of those around you are often the results of conditions that are within your control. While it is easy to blame others for our lack of success, ultimately, it’s up to us to figure out why we are not achieving our goals and succeeding to the levels that are possible.

Dave Fuller, MBA, is an award-winning business coach and a partner with Pivotleader Inc

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