Our daily way of life has changed for many. We may have heard about the need for businesses to pivot and as we wait for the new normal to evolve and take shape. How do we find our new flow or adopt a new flow to enable you to achieve your goals?
I believe that to survive and thrive, it is essential to recognize, understand and reclaim your flow for your protection, preservation and salvation.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes flow as “the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.” So, why do you think flow matters?
Why Flow Matters to Me
I know from my personal experience that when I’m in the ‘zone’ with a client, my mobile phone is on silent, notifications are switched off and I am entirely focused on the task at hand, not thinking about responding to emails, returning calls, or writing reports. I’m in the present; I’m giving my client my full attention; therefore, the client and I have the best experience.
When an athlete is ‘zoning’, their conscious mind becomes quiet (the normally busy, chattering mind we use all the time), and this allows their more powerful subconscious to run their performance on ‘automatic pilot’, in the way a computer runs software.
This allows their movements to flow much easier, effortlessly increasing speed and power in a way that could never be matched by conscious thought. Therefore, when you are in the zone, you have virtually no thought going through your mind whatsoever, your body is just moving on instinct and autopilot, powered directly by your subconscious mind.
Lewis Hamilton’s Formula for Success
I have a confession to make and it is no secret that I’m a huge fan of Lewis Hamilton and I’ve followed his Formula 1 career.
Hamilton having accumulated six F1 World Championships, one behind the legendary Michael Schumacher. Journalists and fans argue whether Hamilton is one of the most successful Formula 1 drivers in history. There is only one other driver who has won more Formula 1 races and championship titles. That is – Michael
Schumacher, with 91 and 7 respectively. Hamilton currently stands on 90 and 6.
Another great legend of the sport, Ayrton Senna, famously proclaimed following his great lap around the streets of Monaco that he “was no longer driving consciously. I was in a different dimension, it frightened me because I realized I was well beyond my conscious understanding.”
In this year’s Spanish Grand Prix, a triumphant Hamilton announced over the team radio;
“I was just in a daze out there. I was in a different zone. There is an immense amount of pressure on all of us to perform, and the goal is always to chase to perfection and be in that zone. You can be close but not in your perfect rhythm, but for whatever reason, and I can’t quite pinpoint why it felt like I was in the clearest zone with a clarity.
I do not know how you to get in that space, but I felt fantastic in the car. I did not make mistakes, and I delivered lap upon lap – it is the zone that I dream of being in. I was ecstatic when I came across the line. I didn’t realize it was still the last lap. I was still going like a horse with those blockers on.
For me, it is right up there in terms of how I drove, how I really delivered and up there with some of the best performances that I feel I have done. I am definitely going to have a glass of wine tonight to celebrate.”
I actually had the pleasure of speaking with Lewis Hamilton’s father, Anthony, at Silverstone a couple of years ago, and I asked him where Lewis gets his energy from, and he told me that he feeds off the British crowd and he feels it in his gut!
Actions to Consider on Achieving your Flow
There is no exact blueprint for achieving flow, but here are some steps you can take to make it easier, based on some of the findings of Csikszentmihalyi’s research.
Check that you have a Balanced Healthy Diet
Junk foods and energy drinks give you a short-term boost in energy.
Chris Bailey from A Life of Productivity adds, “When you eat anything processed, the oil refinery in your stomach converts it into a heap of glucose that storms your brain all at once, which causes your energy levels to rollercoaster. Instead, you need high-quality fuel that will release glucose slowly into your bloodstream. What you eat depends on your dietary preferences and general tastes, but in general, you can’t go wrong with nuts, fruits, vegetables, seeds, and lean meats. Avoid processed foods and lots of added sugar/sweeteners.”
Avoid Constant Distractions
You will never achieve flow if you are distracted. Your brain can not handle it. Indeed, there are circumstances in which distractions are unavoidable. But most of the time, you can work to minimize or eliminate distractions. Here are some of my favourite strategies for doing so:
- Read or listen to empowering audiobooks
- Put your phone in aeroplane mode when you don’t want to be disturbed (or, better still, in another room)
- Listen to uplifting and inspirational music
- Create a quiet place to relax, refocus and reenergize
- Schedule blocks of uninterrupted time in your diary
- Meditate to get into a mindful state
- Treat yourself to a therapeutic massage
- Use the Pomodoro technique (read the next paragraph)
Use the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro technique is setting a timer for 25 minutes (or any reasonable length of time) and working only on one task for that time. No checking your phone, browsing Facebook or your LinkedIn feed.
The Pomodoro technique makes this possible by helping you jump the most significant mental barrier: getting started. Because once you’re immersed in a task, you may find yourself working well past when the timer goes off. It’s a free app and available online TomatoTimer.
Complete one Task at a Time
It may surprise you that multitasking reduces your performance and efficiency because your brain can only focus on one task at a time. When you attempt to do more than one thing, your mind cannot perform both tasks successfully.
Get a Good Night’s Rest
We have heard it all before; sleep is a game-changer for your general health and well-being. But it is also key to reaching flow states. If you are tired, your ability to concentrate will decrease, and smaller distractions will more easily pull you away from the flow.
When you’re asleep, your body repairs and replenishes itself, it needs this time to repair muscles, consolidate memories and release hormones that maintain growth and digestion.
Good-quality sleep helps control your appetite to promote good overall health and support your immune system.
If you know anyone in your world, friends, neighbours, work colleagues who you think would benefit from spending some time with me, please ask them to get in touch. I’d be delighted to arrange a free 30-minute consultation.
Telephone 07967 052585 or email firstname.lastname@example.org