In my last blog, I explained the concept of flow. Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi describes the experience of flow as “a unique state of concentration when you feel positive, energized, focused, and totally absorbed in the present moment. Everything around you is forgotten except the task at hand, while awareness and action become one. You lose all sense of time and self-consciousness. You are confident, fully engaged, and fully present in the moment. Time flies by, and when finished, you experience a deep sense of satisfaction.”
In my experience, there are nine keys to experiencing flow:
#1: Involvement in a moderately challenging activity. If the activity is too easy, then boredom will set in. If the activity is too difficult, then the intense level of conscious thought required will prevent flow from occurring.
#2: The ability to focus on the activity without frequent distraction. In order to focus, we need to have enough mental energy to start the process. If we are too tired to focus, there is no chance of flow occurring. Also, if we are in a distracting environment, we cannot enter flow. We must be able to focus and concentrate.
#3: Have a clear goal or outcome to achieve from the activity. Without a clear goal, there is no sense of accomplishment or progress, and no flow.
#4: Able to observe immediate feedback. We have to know if we are making progress and what is causing the progress to occur.
#5: A lack of anxiety. If we are feeling anxious, we cannot enter optimal performance nor can we be fully present or engaged.
#6: A sense of control. We need to have a sense of control over the activity and our actions.
#7: A lack of self-consciousness. As we enter flow, we lose our sense of self-consciousness. However, as soon as we become self-conscious, our performance falters.
#8: Loss of the sense of time. As we begin to enter flow, we lose our sense of time consciousness.
#9: Talent Use. In order to enter flow, we must be able to utilize our Strengths and Talents.
If the previous nine conditions are met and the activity aligns with our intrinsic motivations, our sense of purpose and calling then the outcome is even more powerful and joyful!
Whatever your situation, the more you can meet these nine key elements, the more you can experience this amazing state of concentration and optimized performance.
Are you experiencing the nine elements of flow?
What obstacles are you encountering in your pursuit of flow?