Flow State...what does it mean to be in a state of flow? I talk about that a lot. I think about it a lot. I try to function in that state as much as possible. It's my intention to be in the flow state.
Flow can Be Achieved
Now how do you get there?
We know there is value in being in a Flow State. We see that with athletes achieving outstanding goals. We see it in artists who sees the image before it appears. We hear about it in Musicians who can write a song in about as much time as it takes to perform it.
But how does the average person achieve that state where they're at their maximum performance? You know that state where they are at their peak? Where they actually accomplish more in less time, than they would accomplish under any other circumstances?
Long before I knew anything about Flow State I could tell when I was in that State. I knew when I would hit that place where everything seemed to come together, where everything seemed to be in alignment, where all the pieces came together at the same time so that it was easy. The next step seemed to appear and I was filled with an abundance of energy. I was inspired and I was tuned in. I was able to capture the moment for what it really was.
That's the flow state.
That's what I talk about when I'm talking about being in the flow. That's when everything else gets shut out.
Let me give you one indicator today. When you are so attune with what you're doing, when you are so involved, when you're so engaged, not frustrated but engaged. I'm not talking about, "I'm going to get this if it kills me."
I'm actually enjoying the process. I'm so involved in the process that I'll get to the outcome, but I'm deeply involved in the process. When you're in this state of flow, the process is fascinating to you. It's not the outcome for the athlete. It's not the outcome of the game. It's, "I'm so involved in the game that the outcome becomes secondary."
It's that process.
It's the process that becomes valuable. When you're in a state of flow, you're fascinated by the process. The process itself is not grueling. It's something that you thrive on.
So here's your test. What's thing do you do that sometimes you forget what time it is? I'm not talking about something that you have to get done and you work past your normal lunch break. I'm talking about something that you are go engaged with, so attuned to, something that has so occupied your mind that nothing else matters.
Maybe you'll go right past time to stop and eat. You'll go past that point, because you're so engaged in the process that you're in the flow and you're captivated by the process. You're captivated by the process. So captivated that you to lose sense of time, lose sense of your environment, and lose sense of your location. There are times when I've been driving and while driving trying to solve a problem. that I got so absorbed in the process I've ended up in the wrong state.
The flow state is when you're so fascinated by the process that you forget what time it is that flow state, that point where you hit your peak performance, where everything seems to line up where everything is engaged in you and things just kind of begin to flow and they come to you in rapid fire succession.
Not a List of Accomplishments
There is a huge difference between accomplishing a list of tasks and being in a state of flow. Completing a todo list isn't being in the flow, it's only being done. There's satisfaction in being "done". Being in a flow state is much greater than that.
The flow state puts you in a position where all of your resources are used to the maximum benefit. Those resources include:
- Mental Faculties - This includes clarity of thought, clear recall of facts, keen insight into new information, and most importantly causal and connected thinking.
- Emotional Energy - Required for a sustained focus on a specific problem. Discouragement and dead ends don't derail they only leads to greater focus and determination. Albert Einstein said, "It's not that I'm so smart, I just stay with problems longer." Emotional energy is required for you to stay with a problem longer.
- Physical Stamina - Allows you to stay engaged longer. While in the flow physical energy seems to remain long past when you should have slowed down.
- Spiritual Purpose - The sense that you are fulfilling a deeper purpose with greater outcomes comes when you are in a flow state.
- Community Relationships - Often times the things you seek while in a flow state are made available in the community of your personal relationships.
Note: I'm creating a course on the Psychology of Motivation and the Flow State for Small Business Owners. The video below will give you a sample of the material in the course.