Happiness and fulfillment in life are directly related to how we feel in any particular moment, which determines how well we live, and how well we can perform to our potential. To maximize performance in business, sports or life, being in the flow state is ideal.
What is the flow state?
Have you even been absorbed in an activity, and you lose complete track of time? Hours may have passed, and it seemed like a fraction of the time. It’s not that your mind was wandering. It’s that you were completely concentrating and focused on whatever it is you were doing, sometimes without awareness of yourself.
According to popular psychology, this type of experience is called the flow state. Athletes sometimes call it ‘being in the zone’. This state was discovered and name by world-famous Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
How can flow state help?
The flow state can help in many areas of life, such as:
- Sports performance
- Business success
- Competitive advantage
- Goal attainment
- Staying on track
- Feeling happy and fulfilled
Although we sometimes drift into the flow state naturally, it is very helpful to learn techniques that help us get into the flow state when we need or want to.
Here are some ways you can get into the flow state on command:
1. Know your purpose
Your reasons are powerful and motivating. The ‘why’ of doing something is what will propel you forward when you are having a bad day and feeling less than your best.
Ask yourself, why would I want to be in the flow state? How would it benefit me? What about it is important to me? With purpose comes power; it is the fuel behind motivation to push forward.
2.Determine what the flow state experience is for you
Recall a time when you were completely absorbed in an activity, beyond awareness of time. When you imagine this time, ask yourself these questions:
How does it look to you?
Are there any images that you associate to it?
Do you see yourself in your mind’s eye? Are you close up, or far away?
How does it feel to you? Are there any physical feelings associated to it?
What words do you use to describe the flow state?
Is there any inner dialogue, or statements you may say to yourself when in the flow state?
3. Use your breath to help to become present
When we are consciously thinking about, analyzing, or ruminating about something, we are not present. The flow state is a very present state.
Focusing on your breath is an effective way to get your mind into a present state. To do this, follow these steps:
1. Close your eyes
2. Take 2-3 deep breathsto help relax your body and mind
3. Begin to sense the breathmoving in and out of your nostrils. Do not attempt to control your breath. Let it flow naturally
4. Track the flow of your breaththroughout each inhale and into each exhale, and through each exhale back into each inhale
5. Do this for 1-2 minutes
6. Open your eyesand notice your state of mind. Are you more present?
4. Use your imagination to get deeper into the flow state experience
Your imagination is powerful. Sometimes your brain cannot tell the difference between something you imagine and something that may have happened in real life. Have you ever woken from a dream and wondered if it was actually a dream or real life?
Using your personal flow experience from step 2, close your eyes and imagine all of the details you described: how it looks, how it feels, how it sounds. Imagine scenarios in which the flow state will help you perform better, and be in the flow state, in your mind, in these scenarios. Stay here for 2-3 minutes, then move on to step 5.
5. Plant an anchor
An anchor is something that brings on an emotional state. For example, perhaps you can recall something – an object, a person, a smell – that upon thinking about it, you feel positive in some way (happy, optimistic, loved, secure, etc.). In this example, the object, person or smell is the anchor for the positive feeling. Anchors can bring on positive as well as negative emotional states(anger, sadness, frustration etc.). We are anchored by things throughout our lives, often without our conscious awareness of them. The great thing about anchors is you can create the ones you want! This means you can create an anchor to get you into the flow state.
Here’s how to create anchor to get into the flow state:
Choose an anchor. This can be a gesture, a word or phrase that you say to yourself, or both (for example, snapping your left fingers while saying the word ‘focus’ to yourself). It’s important that the anchor is unique (you don’t normally do or say it), and if it’s a gesture, that it is possible in the scenarios where you will use it (for example, an anchor of brushing your left knee with your right thumb would not be possible if you wanted to use it while playing tennis).
Close your eyes and imagine yourself in the scenario where you want to use your anchor. Bring on the flow state in this scenario. Make the flow state intense and powerful in your mind.
When you are at the most maximum possible flow state, in your mind, do and/or say your anchor
Do the above 5 times
Test your anchor. If when doing it you don’t feel the flow state, do the above again until the anchor brings you into the flow state.
With repetition comes mastery. The more you imagine and re-live the flow state in your mind, the more easily you can get into the flow state in real life. Include your anchor in the re-living experience. Your anchor will work for you as long as you use it, and it will get stronger the more you use it. This is just like building muscle. The more you work the muscle, the stronger it gets.
The above techniques, and more, can be incorporated in to your competitive advantage strategy.
These are just some of the ways you can get into the flow state. If you would like guidance on these techniques, or to explore additional ways to get into the flow state on command, contact us for a free consultation!
Want to get into the flow state on command? Get our FREE audio download, Get Into The Flow State Now.
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Your Personal Performance Coach,