Can you recall the last time you felt like you were in the flow?
You know that state of being where you lose track of time whilst you are in the midst of a task on hand, regardless of what that task is. Or, those moments when you are so fully immersed and energized, and are enjoying the process of striving toward the end-result.
As a word and as an experience, “flow” has been on my mind a lot. Mostly because it is my word of the year.
Do you do this, as well: Choose a word of the year?
I didn’t hop on this bandwagon until a few years ago. And now I’m sorta of hooked. I rather like the idea of declaring a word as a “guide” for the year. The practice of proclaiming what I want to be more of and/or how I want to experience the year is appealing.
I like the focus and clarity it provides.
I like how it can serve as a simple filtering anchor and feedback loop. Even if it is the case that I don’t connect the dots until I am doing my weekly reviews and asking myself the question: “How did I embody flow?” (By the way, there are several weeks where my answer has been, “I’m not entirely sure.”)
It’s also been on my mind, because as I wrote here I’ve been wondering what role flow has played in both the goals I’ve achieved, as well as those I haven’t.
Recently, I had an interesting aha when it comes to my word of the year.
Flow; It’s Complicated
Nine months into the year, my relationship with what I mean by flow has evolved.
At first, I was more focused on flow through the lens of ease and a lack of resistance.
What I now realize is that I was evaluating whether I was embodying “flow” solely through this lens. And while those are definitely aspects of being in a state of flow, I’ve come to understand three things on a deeper level:
First is the need to create the space for deep concentration, few distractions, and creativity so flow can happen – for all tasks and types of work, not just the ones that require creative capital from me (like coaching, speaking, and creating content). Flow doesn’t just occur by chance – even though it can feel this way at times.
Second is embracing the reality of what is – including the challenges. Rather than longing for how I want things to be. Acceptance is a major component of flow.
Third is remembering that flow shares a common trait with bodies of water – it, well, ebbs and flows. 🙂 And while there are valuable lessons embedded in both, I have a tendency to be more reflective during the ebbs.
As I hunker down for the sprint that is the next four months, I’m endeavoring to keep these ahas top of mind.
Especially when you/we feel out of flow.
How would you describe your relationship with flow…right now? How are you embodying and defining it?
More specifically, when and where in your life and business and with your money do you feel like things are moving along with ease? What’s happening to create that?
When and where do you feel stuck, or that things are not flowing so easily?
Do you see a correlation between your state of flow and the goals you have (or have not) achieved?
From your mundane tasks to your creative endeavors, how does your mental state of mind, skills, ideas, and creativity coalesce so you can have and experience a sense of flow?
People have been experiencing what we describe as “flow states” long before positive psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Jeanne Nakamura coined this term. But, it is certainly useful to have a succinct way to describe an emotional condition that can be metaphysical at times.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is considered one of the pioneers in flow theory. And based on his research, going back to the 60s, he created a flow chart that bears his name – called the Flow State Scale. To see an image of it, click here.
For the purposes of today’s discussion, what I find interesting about the scale is this: Something that has a low skill level and is highly challenging produces anxiety.
I came across this scale while doing research for this piece, and I had a geeky moment! 🙂 I got excited about how this could be an incredibly useful tool for you and me to explore another relationship – the one between flow and goals.
The pursuit of goals requires you and I to do a combination of tasks.
Some we enjoy, while there are others you and I find mundane.
Some are easy and we can do them with our eyes closed – metaphorically speaking. Whereas others push us out of our comfort zones requiring us to go beyond our current level of knowledge, skill-set, or capacity of resources.
Particularly when “flow” isn’t present and feels a bit stagnant, it might be useful to use this scale to assess which level is the primary culprit – skill or challenge.
Also, knowing which level to pay more attention to can be just the feedback you need to help you reset – your goal, your process, or both.
Now, back to my question that kicked off today’s piece:
If your answer isn’t, “I’m in it right now,” perhaps this is the invitation you didn’t know you needed.
So, go ahead and take some time in the coming days to figure out how to cultivate more flow in whatever area of your life, business and money needs it.
Doing so can play a crucial role in unlocking your potential.
Sometimes, you need others to help you create the space for flow to occur in your business and with your money. And, I’m pretty darn good at helping my clients in this regard. DM me on Instagram so we can schedule a time to chat about your goals and together determine if working together is a fit.