Flow is a highly desirable (almost magical) state of mind. It’s those times where you’re confident, excited, and 100% absorbed in your work. What’s even better is you lose your insecurities about making mistakes or failing.
For 1000’s of years, people have described flow as the most productive and creative state of mind possible.
Luckily, anyone can get into this special state of mind.
You don’t need special abilities to experience it because anyone can tap into this super-human power!
However, you have to earn it with focused practice.
How does flow feel?
“Being in the flow is definitely worth striving for. I know when I’m there. I’m tapped into something that is far beyond my ability.”
Each flow session will launch you past your old limitations. You’ll transform into someone better than you were before. You’ll feel powerful and in control, because you know the skills you’re building are going to change your life!
As you improve, make your lessons more and more difficult, so your skills develop over time.
What happens during the state of flow?
“My hand does the work and I don’t have to think. In fact, were I to think, it would stop the flow. It’s like a dam in the brain that bursts.”
– Edna O’Brien
When you enter the flow state, parts of your prefrontal cortex shut down to supply more energy to the task at hand. The subconscious takes over because when you do something so many times, it becomes second nature. In fact, you hardly need to think at all, and it’s like you’re just along for the ride! Everything is effortless.
So, step back and let your muscle memory take over (AKA your subconscious). Although, muscles don’t remember things; it’s a pathway your brain created in itself to simplify the task. That way, you don’t have to think about it anymore, like walking.
Then, it floods the brain with feel-good chemicals. Flow pumps out 5 of the most potent performance-enhancing, feel-good neurochemicals.
Furthermore, this is the only time you get all 5 chemicals at once, and they all boost creativity, focus, and productivity.
These are the results of flow:
- Sense of self disappears
- Worries vanish
- Self-doubt dissolves
- Time ceases to exist. When you leave the flow state you look at the clock and it’s been hours since you started!
But, can anyone capture this elusive state of mind? Fortunately, the answer is yes. So, let’s do this!
How to experience the flow state:
1. Write a list of goals
“The self expands through acts of self-forgetfulness.”
– Mihály Csíkszentmihályi
Write down what you want to achieve, what skills you need to build, and the steps to take in order to reach these goals.
2. Choose a project
“Flow can only truly be achieved when we are willing to let go of the outcome and just play.”
— Sandra Taylor Hedges
Pick one goal on the list to focus on. If it’s too easy, you’ll get bored and if it’s too difficult then you’ll get overwhelmed and burnout.
So, push yourself just beyond your current abilities (about 5-10% more than usual). That’s where you’ll find the flow state.
3. Make plenty of time for flow
Choose a time of day when you have the most energy because it’ll take at least 15 minutes to start entering the flow state. So, give yourself enough time, but when you practice getting into this state, you’ll slip into it faster and easier.
For instance, earlier today, I told myself I’d play guitar for 30 minutes and then get back to work on this article. Well, 3 hours later, I was still telling myself, “One more song.”
But have patience and relax because you can’t force the flow state, it’s like falling asleep. Then the next thing you know, several hours flew past without you noticing!
4. Stay focused to stay in flow
Getting into flow requires discipline and focus. Take control of your mind and force it to concentrate on this one task (whether it wants to or not). In fact, the more you do this, the more you’ll boost your ability to focus in the future.
If you have noise-canceling headphones, use them! Because they’re life-changing for when you need to cut out the world and focus.
Become 100% immersed in what you’re doing. Don’t think about anything else because it only takes one distraction to throw you out of this elusive state.
Then you’ll have to attempt to get back into it all over again. So, make sure nothing will distract you. Put your phone in another room and clear out all distracting clutter.
5. Get some feedback
Show people what you’ve been working on and see what they have to say. Compliments are nice, but what you really want are criticisms because knowing what you need to work on is valuable information!
What if no one told you about a flaw in your product or business, and you struggled for years until you figured it out? So, seek out these priceless bits of advice, they’re the key for you to move up to the next level.
6. Don’t just read about it, do it!
“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”
All in all, flow is a fantastic state of mind that’ll sky-rocket your abilities. You feel (and are) your best. So, take the time to focus on an enjoyable, challenging activity. Soon you’ll be in a new brain state with unlimited potential. Over time you’ll have more skills and become a better person because of it!
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What makes you slip into flow?