The Flow State.
Have you ever had that feeling of being so completely absorbed in a task that time is meaningless?
When you are so immersed and ‘into’ what you’re doing, so inspired and energised, that you can’t separate your awareness from whatever is absorbing you – you’re practically inside the world of the thing itself – enjoying yourself so much that you’re ‘in the flow’, ‘in the zone’ or ‘in the moment’.’ Maybe you’re ‘on a roll,’ ‘in the groove,’ ‘on fire,’ or ‘in tune.’
This is known as the Flow State. What’s most exciting about this state is that it can create superhuman results for individuals.
I am a self-confessed flow hacker. About two years ago, I started to ask myself the questions:
- What would it take to have a great day every day?
- What would I need to do to achieve that?
- How would I need to structure my life to enable me to get that kind of result?
Ask yourself the same things, and you’ll probably feel so motivated and ‘in the flow’ that you’ll forget to read the rest of this post! But hold that thought, and come back to it later! I’ll tell you my story and hope that you will use it to make things even better for you.
So, before I made the conscious decision to actively seek out the flow state and make it happen regularly instead of hoping it would creep up occasionally and catch me by surprise, I had a lot of ok days, a few great days every now and then, and even the occasional bad day.
I just was not satisfied with that. That feeling of flow used to happen to me naturally every now and then, but I couldn’t rely on it. I craved that pleasurable feeling that made time stand still. I certainly resorted to using things like alcohol as a way of inducing some form of higher state, but again, it was temporary, unreliable and erratic. A lot of my time was just plain mediocre.
There are many people who would say that it is impossible to have a great day every day. I just don’t buy it. It certainly helps that I have the mindset that nothing is impossible, Not even time travel, or the one thing that I really, really want – teleportation! I just assume that we haven’t thought of how to do it yet, and I am comfortable with not knowing how. Yet. Having this mindset really helps me to tackle interesting problems.
There is no more interesting a problem than learning how to have a great day every single day of your life!
The first step to having a great day every day is to understand the patterns in your life. Remember when you have had great moments in the past – and see if you can replicate what happened to create those moments.
Use all your senses. How did it feel? What were you doing? Where were you? Who else was there? What did you say – to yourself or others? What did you see?
Through a process of trial and error I have learnt how to consistently recreate the flow state in my everyday life.
What gets you in the flow? Is it dancing? Extreme sports? Writing? Solving problems? Painting? Fixing cars? Singing or playing music? Everyone is different. You have to find out for yourself what gets you into that state. All I know is that having deep conversations with either individuals or small groups gets me in the flow state.
And as a result, I have built my life and business around doing this. I spend most days in deep conversation with friends, family, clients or contacts. I love it and it gets the very best out of me. I know that by constantly being in my zone of excellence, incredible things will happen to me over time.
How to have a great day is all I really focus on these days. The rest comes from that. If I have a few bad days, I change something. If I have a few OK days, I also change something. If a day isn’t great, I want to know why. And I learn from that how to do things differently – and how to have a great day!
If you get good at recreating the flow state whenever you want it in life, think what that means for your life and work! It is the ultimate tool in performance enhancement. Consider whatever gets you into the flow state.
That is what you need to consider doing in life – or duplicating the most useful aspects of it. It’s not necessarily the task itself, but the process that you want to replicate. For example, if the last time you were in a state of flow was washing the dishes, you may not want to do that full-time.
But what was it about dishwashing that got you into that state of bliss? Was it the time to yourself? The time to clear your mind? Maybe you need to replicate these aspects and qualities in other areas of your life – through quiet contemplation in your office alone, or meditation. Or did it give you time to think?
Maybe you can replicate this through other physical activity – like going for a walk or driving, when your unconscious mind performs the task while your conscious mind can busy itself with new ideas.
When you are in the flow state, you always get further in less time. Success comes from the flow itself.
You can find a way to monetize having great days. That, in itself, is just an innovation challenge.
So think about how you can get into flow more often!
Think about what life would look like if you built it around being in the flow state?
You may just find out that you can achieve something superhuman.
Here’s to going with the flow.
The Greatest Weapon in Improving Personal Performance Is…
PS: If you want to see something awesome, check out what the guys at The Flow Genome Project are trying to do. Now, how cool is that!