Go With the Flow

Guest Blog

From 2014 IWL Conference Speaker, Shelly Aristizabal

Have you ever been so involved in doing something that you lost track of time? Everything around you – from the beeping of the phone, to the people passing in the hallways – seem to fade away. You have laser focus on what you are doing, and you are so engaged that you might even miss lunch. You feel energized, even joyful, about what you are doing.

Most of us have had this experience at one time or another. Psychologists call this “flow.” When it happens, we lose all track of time, and move forward on instinct, completely devoted to the task at hand. Some call it mojo, athletes call it “in the zone” whatever you call it, it’s a very positive and results oriented place to be! Your level of flow is determined by the perceived level of difficulty of the task at hand and your skill levels to handle the task.

Different emotions come up too. For example, if the task isn’t challenging and doesn’t require a lot of skill, we’re likely to feel apathy towards it. But facing a challenging task without the required skills could easily result in worry and anxiety. To find a balance, and to perform at our best, we need a challenge that is significant and interesting, and we need well-developed skills, so that we’re confident that we can meet the challenge. This moves us to a position where we can experience “flow” (being totally involved and engaged in the activity). This state of flow is often observed in people who have mastered their business, art, sport, or hobby. They make whatever they’re doing look easy, and they’re totally engaged with it.

10 Components of Flow

How do you know when you’re experiencing flow?

  1. Have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve.

  2. Be able to concentrate for long periods of time.

  3. Find that time passes quickly.

  4. Get direct and immediate feedback.

  5. Experience levels of balance between ability levels and challenge of task.

  6. Have a sense of personal control over the challenge.

  7. Feel that the activity is intrinsically rewarding.

  8. Lack awareness of bodily needs. (skip meals & sleep)

  9. Lose the feeling of consciousness of one’s self.

  10. Be completely absorbed in the activity.

Remember that all of these factors and experiences don’t necessarily have to be in place for flow to happen. But you’re likely to experience many of them when flow occurs.

Improve your chances of experiencing flow:

* Set goals. Learning to set effective goals can help you achieve the focus you need.

* Improve Concentration. Use strategies to eliminate distraction to create more productivity.

* Build Self-confidence. Implement skills to build up confidence.

* Get Feedback. Create relationships of trust that allow important feedback to improve.

*   Make your work more challenging. Improve your mindset to seek opportunities for growth.

*   Improve your skills.  Identify the skills that you need to work on to be successful.

*   Mentor or Coach. Don’t do it alone. Seek out books and mentors to coach you.

Do what you love to do and you will never “work” a day in your life! Just go with the flow and know you can live the life of your dreams!

Contributed by: Shelly Aristizabal

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