Do you ever feel hopeless towards a goal?
I’ll admit that I’ve felt like I’m so far from a goal that it doesn’t feel real.
Do you ever feel that you won’t get there no matter how long you work at it?
Or do you just have goal to work towards?
Whether your goal is sight reading, perfecting a piece, or even calculus homework, there’s a simple solution to accomplishing anything.
I can’t just give it to you.
But I can show you how to get it, just like I did.
Flow is complete focus, “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one… Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost“, says Csíkszentmihályi, the (positive) psychologist who coined the term.
Flow is when you’re so absorbed in something that you lose track of time. You’re reaching your potential because all your energy is directed at one single activity.
You’ve experienced flow before.
Humans have been ‘flowing’ long before Csíkszentmihályi came along and named it ‘flow’.
How to Find Flow
How, exactly, can you find flow, if it’s so great?
The key to finding flow is balancing challenge.
All you need to do is make sure that you have a challenge that takes up all of your focus.
You need a thing that’s just right:
Hard enough so that you’re entirely focused, but easy enough so that you feel like you’re improving and you don’t get frustrated.
A challenge that’s too easy won’t need your undiverted attention, so you won’t go into flow.
Let’s take a basic example that most of us have been through:
You can’t get past the first octave of a scale (playing at a certain tempo) without your hands splitting up, yet you’ve been trying again and again with the metronome for the past hour.
You’re not going into flow and you’re not improving much, if at all.
It’s too hard and you know that you’re not improving.
To find flow, you need to make it a bit easier.
You can make it easier in lots of different ways, as long as it makes you feel that the goal is doable.
- For the example above, you can first play it slower and fix your fingering.
- When that gets too easy, you can then aim for evenness. (More on this in a later post.)
- And when that gets too easy, then you can increase the tempo again– in the end, you’d get your goal, painlessly!
When you make it harder in small steps like that, you would be in a state of flow the entire time, as opposed to hours upon hours of frustration.
Find out how you concentrate best.
Distractions? Silence, neatness, or even white noise?
Create conditions where you concentrate best, then you will flow.
Even something simple like closing the door might help your concentration.
I personally concentrate best when it’s quiet; that’s when I work best– I find noise distracting.
Test out different ways and find one that works best for you.
- You’ll improve at anything much quicker when you’re in flow because all your energy is concentrated on one challenge and you’re “using your skills to the utmost”.
- When you’re in flow, you’re getting more product for your effort than you would get if you weren’t in flow.
- Being in a state of flow is ultimately enjoyment, even for the most mundane tasks, as long as there’s a doable challenge– time literally flies because you’re so concentrated on it.
- Flow really pushes your potentials because you need to keep adjusting your challenges to achieve even greater challenges.