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Flow is the mental state where we are so immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process that we lose sense of space and time.
The moment you recognize being in flow, its blissful sensation begins to dissolve and the world, complete with its distractions, comes rushing back into our heads.
To enter flow, you need appropriated self-control, environmental conditions, skills, task and rewards. Besides that, you must know what you’re doing, be able to see whether or not you’re doing it well, and be pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone.
The last point is especially important, it’s mastery combined with challenge that brings flow. Too much challenge and we get overwhelmed with anxiety. Not enough, and our brain loses focus and looks for other stimuli.
To get into a state of flow more often, we need to be able to increase our level of control over our consciousness:
- Find standards to determine whether any action you’re going to take is desirable towards getting into a state of flow.
- Self-control and flow depend on immediate feedback; find ways to constantly monitor your performance and adjust as you continue.
- Be wary of your mental energy. Define your work schedule to account for the variations in mental strength throughout the day.
Routine is good for productivity but doesn’t help you enter in the flow state. Instead, find an environment that challenges you on a daily basis and pushes you a bit outside of your comfort zone.
Ideally those are environments and activities where your actions have real consequences to you, challenge you out of your comfort zone and require more of your attention or you to react quickly to changes.
Flow is dependent on finding that sweet spot between your skills and the challenge at hand. Having some mastery and knowing how to use it is necessary to reach flow state.
You can achieve this by not just going through the motions of an activity, but having a specific, analyzable and measurable goal for every practice session and optimizing things to challenge and increase your mastery every new session.
Imbuing your task with a clear sense of purpose greatly facilitates flow.You can do that bycreating a personal mission statement and tying your values and skills to how you can make a real change in the world.
Create your mission statement, find what are your passions, values and skills, as well as the value you create, who are you creating for and the expected outcome.
Having work and tasks that we feel real have meaning behind and enjoy doing for the sake of doing is ideal to achieve flow. Money. Awards. Praise. These can be byproducts of the flow work you do, but they cannot be the core motivation behind what you’re doing.
If you can find that kind of task, not only will you find yourself slipping into flow more often, but you’ll naturally shift towards doing work that is truly meaningful to you.