We all have routines to keep us on track, but what happens when the world shifts and we stay the same? In her book, A Better Place To Work, Deb Connors encourages us to “deviate behaviour for positive reasons.”

When you intentionally step outside your norm and try a different behaviour from your usual routine, the results will deepen the connection to your values and vision as a leader and recalibrate your course to peak performance.

Here are 9 ways to check-in, get curious about and ask questions that have the power to positively shift your lifestyle choices and optimize peak performance and your identity as a leader.

1. Sleep

According to, the best sleep for adults include consistent 7–9 hours each night and, “paying back ‘sleep debt’ is always a good idea if you’re sleep-deprived.”

Sleep plays a significant role in a healthy lifestyle by supporting emotional well-being, allowing the body to rest and repair physically, and consolidating information to form new brain pathways. When we sleep well, we increase our capacity to learn and access creativity during the day.

Ask yourself: How can I show myself compassion and honour my need to rest and sleep?

2. Meditate

The benefits of meditation are well known and are now a part of the mainstream culture. Benefits include clarity, focus, creativity, improved performance, stress relief, and overall wellbeing. Top performers such as US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, musician Sting, politician Tim Ryan, who leads a 30-minute meditation group for caucus members, and billionaire CEO Ray Dalio all credit meditation for part of their success.

“Meditation, more than any other factor, has been the reason for what success I’ve had.”

Ray Dalio

Here’s an easy 3 step process to meditation (3-minutes):

  1. Sit or lie down comfortably, consciously connecting your body to the physical surface beneath you,
  2. Breathe deeply into your abdomen, chest and collar bones, filling the lungs from the bottom to the top, then exhale, releasing the breath in a steady stream, emptying the lungs from top to bottom,
  3. Focus your full attention on the flow of breath moving in and out for a continuous round of 3 minutes.

3. Commune with nature

Just 17 minutes a day in nature is enough to realize the health benefits of a balanced the nervous system, lower stress levels and a positive mood boost.

The Japanese have turned it into an artful practice called Shinrin-Yoku — Forest Bathing — it’s a walk in the park. Give it a try today!

4. Exercise

Peak performance involves all systems working at optimal rates for maximum output. That means adopting a physical practice that involves moving your body in ways that challenge your muscles and mind.

Positively pushing your boundaries creates eustress and, consequently, new pathways in the brain. Positive stress levels up your ability to handle stress under different conditions–like motivating a sluggish team or putting an overstimulated 5-year-old to bed at 10 pm.

5. Eat whole natural foods

In Canada, we’ve adopted a new foodguide that encourages filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables, one-quarter with protein and one-quarter with whole grains and water as the preferred beverage choice. Limit your intake of high-fat, high-sugar and salty foods. Simple!

6. Nurture relationships that make you a better person

Notice who you’re spending your time with and the type of energy they bring to the relationship. Are they enhancing or draining the conversation?

Aligning yourself with a mentor or group of like-minded people can enhance your performance. Do a self-check-in because the most important relationship is the one you have with yourself.

Ask yourself: What relationship(s) do I need to limit or let go of to improve my mindset? Who can I align with that can help me perform better?

7. Practice emotional intelligence

It’s time to get familiar with your feelings and emotions. One way to do that is to acknowledge that emotions and feelings are subjective, based on past experiences, and unique to you. That’s why we sometimes feel that people don’t get us.

As a society, we’re taught to resist, push away, go around and judge our experiences and not feel what our bodies are compelling us to feel. It’s uncomfortable! Some of us run and hide; others push through or overreact.

As part of your self-awareness development, it’s time to step into a more balanced version of yourself, embracing your emotional side that wants to be seen and heard.

Try this simple framework to acknowledge your feelings and emotions:

  1. Name it
  2. Say it
  3. Own it
  4. Release it

Ask yourself: When and where can I give myself the time and space to truly feel my emotions?

8. Fail often and carry on

There are two trains of thought that I’ve encountered in my coaching career around sharing your expertise with the world. One, create and launch only your best work, and two, continuously create, aerate your ideas, fail, iterate often and repeat what resonates.

I’m of the mind to go with number two because working behind the scene seeking perfection will only keep you stuck. I know, I’ve been there! Seek to understand, improve your game and be authentic will eventually lead to your best work and peak performance.

Ask yourself: Where do I hold myself back out of fear of failure? How can I turn a past failure into insight for greater clarity moving forward?

9. Slow down to speed up

Time has a funny way of seeming to act at varying speeds. However, we know that in the linear format humans have constructed and applied to time, it moves forward at a constant flow. As children, summer break can last forever, and as we age, time seems to speed up and pass quickly.

So, how to find more time in a day?

When we speed through our day or a project, we miss subtleties and granular details that could impact the outcome. Digging deep for insight and allowing the creative process to flow is one way to slow down to then spark a sprint to the finish line.

It seems counterintuitive, but it works.

“Keep in mind that besides the eight hours of work, each day also has eight hours for fooling around, and then there’s also Sunday.” 

Albert Einstein

Bonus Tip! Practice self-awareness

Hire a professional life and business coach to help you see beyond your past and current situation and recognize all the parts of yourself that make up your whole. What we do today makes who we are tomorrow. Every moment in life is a choice. Having a coach reflect what you do and say, challenge your assumptions and push you toward mastery is invaluable in the leadership game.

“Everyone needs a coach,”

Bill Gates & Eric Schmidt

Ask yourself: What do I choose today that will make me a better leader tomorrow? What is one thing I can commit to that my future self will thank me for? What is the first small step I could take toward optimizing my peak performance?

Make your lifestyle fit your identity as a leader.

The road to peak performance as a leader can be rocky, lonely and fraught with pitfalls, but adopting any of these lifestyle choices and gently disrupting your habitual routine can gain unexpected results.

Get curious, dig deep and seek help to connect and align your lifestyle choices with your values, vision and identity as a leader. 

You got this!