Why Flow Is the New Hustle
Creating Space in Your Life for New Projects & Ideas
We all know that feeling — pushing our bodies beyond the brink of collapse, focusing on a task until the words on the computer monitor resemble crawling ants, yet still feeling guilty that we aren’t enough and haven’t achieved enough.
Let’s be frank. It’s exhausting.
As a Wellness Coach, I see client after client with physical and emotional symptoms relating to this very core issue — “I am not enough”.
We all have desires we want to fullfil and dreams to chase, but it’s one thing to run mindlessly on the hamster wheel and another to arrive at the finish line with a full tank.
This idea doesn’t seem to be incredibly sexy amongst entrepreneurs and the business community — yet. The glorification of being busy and comparing schedules has become deeply ingrained in our way of thinking, especially when it comes to a successful life.
I’ve lost count of the many times I’ve attempted to create a new program or write an article when my schedule is jam packed and energy levels are low. Nothing comes to me. Then I step into the shower or go for a drive, and the ideas stream in like a rushing river.
Let’s explore how to amplify this magic in your own life:
1. Create Space
Teacher and Facilitator, L’Erin Alta of Sisterfire, emphasizes the importance of space in this process:
“The truths you’re looking for — about how to be both boldly ambitious and brilliantly intuitive without compromising either; will never be found in a breathless, hustling grind. Your power is in the pause. Honour the space required to create what you want. Accept your motion and your stillness, your hustle and your flow. Accept it all. Then and only then will you truly enjoy the power of peace.”
For new things to enter your life, there is the need to let go of the old, of objects, people and habits that no longer serve you. This includes that drive to push yourself into the ground, operating from a place of exhaustion.
TIP: Make Time. Block out time in your calendar for self-care and restorative practices that fill you up. Treat it as seriously as you would a business meeting. Make even more time when you’re at your busiest. Personally, I don’t coach clients on a Thursday night or a Sunday. As my brain has time to reflect and isn’t being bombarded by information, it’s the time of most clarity and inspiration. If an idea comes to me that just won’t quit, I have Evernote on hand to get it out of my head. Then I get back to my book or nature hike, knowing that this is me at my best.
Tom Cronin, founder of the Stillness Project, has been teaching meditation for many years and attests to its power:
“We can create magnificent, successful lives by operating from the field of all possibility that is found in the stillness of the mind.”
The scientific reason for this is that as we access deeper alpha waves in the brain during meditation, stress is being released from the body and dopamine levels increase — a chemical responsible for movement, motivation and pleasure.
The benefits of this practice have been well document and promoted, especially in Western culture over the last few years. It can seem frustrating perhaps to receive another reminder of its benefits in productivity, and alienating when you feel like the only person perhaps who hasn’t jumped on the bandwagon.
TIP: Meditate, Don’t Hesitate. Begin to explore the many different styles of meditation and find out which best suits you personally and practically. Guided meditations are an easy way to start, with many apps and downloadable tracks available. Investigate courses online or in your local area for Vedic meditation, that incorporates the use of a ‘mantra’ (mind tool). Or at its simplest form: breathe in and out of the nostrils for 5 minutes first thing in the morning when you wake up to calm any anxious thoughts.
3. Boost Peak Performance
Psychotherapist Dr Perpetua Neo summarizes the importance of flow in peak performance:
“To reach a state of flow is to be completely immersed in-the-moment — it’s as though time has bent around you, and everything else is standing still except the dance between you and what you’re doing. In this state, your mind is not lost in the dark forest of the past or the future — there is no space for self-doubt or beating yourself up. Naturally, creativity flows easily, and change feels natural. There’s a reason why Positive Psychology expert Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says flow is fundamental for happiness and peak performance!”
According to the ancient Indian science of Ayurveda, your body has peak times of productivity and rest. It’s important to listen to these times when planning your day. 10am-2pm corresponds to the element of fire, and is the best time for achieving mental or academic tasks. 2–6pm corresponds to air and hence more to creative tasks, as the mind becomes slightly less focused. Working with the cycles of your body and nature will allow you to flow with the task at hand, and develop the focus that Dr Neo speaks of. From 6–10pm, the element of earth is invoked and it is recommended to wind down the day and be in bed by 10pm.
TIP: Digital Detox. Aim to have all technology off and away from your bedside at least an hour prior to bed. Avoid engaging in work around this time, or regularly pulling ‘all nighters’ to achieve your goals. It is also important to avoid looking at your phone first thing in the morning and bombarding your senses with information upon waking.
4. Nurture Relationships
Author and health coach, Christine Egan, focused on herself and her family whilst recovering from cancer:
“Learning to say no to the things that didn’t really matter became obvious when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Creating space around healing and resting became my expertise. I hired a fun college student to hang out with my three children on days that I had treatment, so I could let my body heal from the procedure I had just endured. We would watch movies in my bed and snuggle as a family instead of attending a friend’s birthday party. Allowing my body to rest and do what I needed to in order to get well became my mantra for my year with cancer.”
I’ve coached countless clients who’ve hustled incredibly hard to climb the corporate ladder, working long hours and sabotaging relationships and their health in the meantime. Once they reached their ideal position, their marriages were over and their nerves completely shot. Loving someone who is always behind a laptop or cell phone is incredibly challenging, and people’s patience is not limitless. As important as it is to create an empire, it’s also necessary to be around to enjoy it!
Being present with loved ones and making that quality time a priority is essential not only to the happiness of others, but your overall mental health. Date nights with your partner, trips to the beach with the kids, visiting the museum with your parents or a dinner party with friends help to keep you grounded and reminded you why you’re working as hard as you are.
TIP: Say No. Learn to say no more often to any kind of commitment that doesn’t light you up. Whether it’s a career opportunity that goes against your future vision and mission, or an event that doesn’t resonate with you. In order to truly come into flow, become laser focused on what matters to you, your loved ones — and nothing else.
It’s my belief that the need to hustle comes from a place of fear — not having enough, being enough or that your dreams could ever come to fruition without excessive sacrifice. To come into your flow, decide on your goals and then — let them go. Flow is actually incredibly dynamic, and not as passive as you would think. There is deep power in trusting in yourself, your abilities, your intelligence and dedication to bring them to fruition. Knowing that by looking after yourself and your relationships, you will arrive at your desired destination in a much happier and healthier frame of mind.