How a Transition Phase can be the Perfect Ground for Flow

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I was reading The Rise of Superman by Steven Kotler, a book that discusses flow, an optimal state for intrinsic motivation when you are totally immersed in an activity and time seems to disappear as defined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his book of the same name. Flow is an desirable state to be in for many reasons; it makes you feel good thanks to the neurochemicals flooding your system and your performance is enhanced.

A friend of mine was saying that it sucks to reach your 30’s and still not have a sense of clarity of what it is you’re passionate about. And I understood where she was coming from, because she’s spent her whole life “beating the books” and going through the educational system (all the way to a PhD), and she never gave herself the chance to experiment.

That’s why transition phases are perfect (given that your basic needs are met and you have a place to crash — maybe your parents’ basement — and food on the table — in your parents’ kitchen?). Under a few conditions though; if you can silence the external voices of people telling you, “What are you doing with your life?” and you can silence the internal voice that asks, “How are you going to make money?”

Once you silence all those voices, you suddenly attain the space and time to experiment. Also add to that the external trigger of ‘rich environment’ as described by the book, The Rise of Superman, which is a combination of novelty, unpredictability, and complexity. Transition phases are complex and unpredictable by nature. But you have to put yourself in a position to welcome moments of serendipity by taking some time to say hello to the person next to you and asking them about their life.

The worse thing a person can do during a transition phase is sit at home and apply for jobs online (and this is a message for me more than any of you). Go out and make connections with real people. Work HONY-style and take a photograph of an interesting person every day. Make collaborations with others. Have a list of 10 new things to engage in and go through the list one by one as I wrote about here. Add value to others — and I really can’t emphasize this enough — you have something that can help others, so start there.

Just to help you make your own list, my current list includes the following, (some I engage in daily, some I am yet to start with) ;

  • Writing (obviously)
  • Painting
  • Coaching
  • Coding
  • Teaching
  • Interviewing
  • Podcasting
  • Volunteering at an event
  • Traveling
  • Make someone laugh…out loud…for a very long time
  • Work with a creative positive team in a non-toxic environment
  • Raise awareness about toxic environments at offices and schools (even if it’s by talking to one person about it)

P.S. I know I keep on talking about thriving during transition phase, because these posts are pep talks for me. I have a inclination for depression, and knowing that I would soon be uprooted from a place I called home for 3 decades multiplied by a state of joblessness and moneylessness don’t help with depression.

And so I write.

To make myself feel better.

In hopes that my words will resonate with you.