If you feel stuck in your life and you feel as though you are treading water, not getting anywhere despite having ideas and dreams for the future, it may help to consider when you are in “flow”.
Flow is a state of having the skills to do what you do whilst being challenged enough to make you feel a sense of achievement. There may be times in your life when you remember experiencing it and it feels good.
Sports are a good way of understanding what flow feels like. If, for example; you like tennis and you play every week with friends as a recreation. There may be an opponent you can think of whose skill level is much higher than yours and you experience some anxiety before playing them. Or another opponent who isn’t so good and you feel bored playing them. You can see on the chart where you might be in relation to experiencing flow.
Think about the areas in your life where you may feel stuck. You might be in a job that is boring to you. If you are in the boredom section of the chart – how could you push yourself up the challenge line to get nearer to flow – a new job or a promotion? Another way of looking at it is to ask yourself what stops you from moving. Is it fear of rejection, anxiety that your skills aren’t good enough or external constraints holding you back? A way of experiencing flow in a dull job is to break down your day – is there an aspect of the job where you experience flow? If you can find one, such as having a stimulating conversation with a colleague, your day will be more enjoyable and lead to learning and skill development.
You will know when you are in flow because; you have a lack of awareness of physical needs, you have complete focus, you lose track of time, you feel a sense of reward and you lose self-consciousness. However, there is a health warning with being in flow – it can become addictive! Have you ever been browsing online, playing a computer game or even gambling and totally lost track of time? In your search for flow focus on more positive activities; painting, playing a musical instrument, gardening or playing chess.
So, the question is not only how we can make flow happen, but also how we can manage it: using it to enhance life yet being able to let go when necessary. Becoming more aware of your state of flow or your position on the chart, will help you to choose for yourself what activities you use to experience flow in a positive way. You can then benefit from developing increased concentration, self-esteem and enhances skills.