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What it is like to work in the state of flow


Are you someone who loves starting things but actually never gets them done, and quits when the going gets tough? Or do you have the tendency to finish whatever you have started, pushing all obstacles out of the way and neglecting everything else insight?

If your anything like me, you would be the latter of the two questions.

Getting things started is like a mosquito biting and you starting this itch. It is impossible to finish itching until it starts to bleed. I know nauseating right?

How about you? What keeps you motivated to keep working on a project, or task that you will not rest until it is done?

For me it is everything except for watching movies and completing my degree in school. Why are you and I so relentless at completing things?

Mainly I find that the things that weigh the greatest on us are the things we are most proudest of. The things that mean something to us.

When you give something MEANING it becomes this force within you. It becomes this journey that needs to reach its destination.

What does it mean to have meaning?

Meaning isn’t something that is tangible. You can’t hold meaning but, you can give things meaning.

Your daughters first photo, your first article published in a publication, your ticket stub from the first movie you watched with your wife, your pendant given to you

from your best friend, that coffee mug that has “Greatest Dad” written on it, a poem written to you by your loved one.

All of these tangible materials hold no value to anyone except you.

Why do we give things meaning? Because we have no other way to express meaning, so we can show other people that these things are important to us even though they may never understand how we feel about it.

Writing this post is meaningful to me and no one else. When you get to doing something that becomes meaningful you get into this trance. If you can relate, then you understand that this trance is what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi writes about in his book Flow.

When we get into this state everything else becomes obsolete. Nothing matters. What inspired me to write this post is the awareness of getting into this state and ignoring everything else that matters around me.

Does anything matter when you get into this state? The tough answer would be no.

Yet, it causes more problems afterwards for neglecting other important areas of your life. Your kids, your wife, your loved ones all suffer because you become so obsessed in getting this work that is meaningful to you done.

The worst part about this is that you get your best work done in this state. So do you avoid getting into this state so you can attend to other people’s needs? No, you can schedule the time to do this purposeful work with no interruptions.

Now you are thinking this only happens randomly and I can’t predict the next time I will get so involved with something that I just cannot quit. Let me tell you that you can. It just becomes harder to do on demand and may take some preliminary work to foster this momentum.

How you might ask?

Notice the next time you get so deeply involved with something. What was the context? What were the circumstances that led up to that moment? Yes, you put your blinders on and it is difficult to be aware of it at that moment in space and time however, you can recall afterwards everything that led up to you completing that task.

Now replicate that same circumstance to get yourself into that flow.

Let me give you an example for when I write these posts or when I am researching a trip to getaway.

Putting myself into an environment of which I know will inspire me. Yes, I need inspiration too. It’s exactly how The Oatmeal put it, don’t forget to BREATHE.

Producing quality requires breathing. Breathing in inspiration and breathing out content.

I am not talking about going to a Zen garden or to a mountain top.

I unplug myself from the world, and plug into myself. I put away all the distractions and begin breathing in until I am ready to exhale.

I set the mood by putting on some inspiring music in the back round, typically classical instrumental. I put my phone on silent and I put a timer on, which usually I tend to go past the time I set for myself, why? Because I have a problem.

Once my fingers begin typing, or my hand begins moving the pen across the white paper, I gain momentum and cannot stop. When I do stop the only thing that runs through my head is how I will finish it.

Yesterday I began writing and realized that I didn’t do any exercise so I decided to go for a run. During that run the only thing that I could think about was how to finish the piece I was working on. So the run turned into a fast walk because I had my Ipod with me in which I kept writing notes that were relevant to the post.

Get it done before losing it.

Maybe this isn’t healthy? Maybe I need an alternative? Maybe I need to start something and forget about finishing it?

Okay that will never happen unless I just don’t care for it and it hold’s no meaning to me.

I don’t know the feeling that is more enjoyable being in the state of flow or when completing and publishing your work? That we can get into another time.


Thank you for coming down this far, I hope you enjoyed this post. To be continued….

Hit the ❤ below or leave a comment on how you found the best practice to get into the state of flow.

Originally published at on August 31, 2016.

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