A complete guide to getting into a FLOW State (Part 1).
Updated: Jul 5, 2021
Let's help you find your Flow through a little brainstorming activity. You might find yourself with a new hobby that you'll love!
Wait a minute! Before you jump on, have you read my article What is Flow and why does getting into it makes you Happier?
If that's a no, please do check it out before moving on. You have to understand what Flow is in the first place right?
It's time to turn words into actions and it sounds like you're ready to get out of a life of unhappiness and restlessness and start living it to the fullest.
A much more engaging life, comprising of many fulfilling flow experiences awaits you. Let's get ready to rumble!
A Brainstorming activity to Find your Flow.
This first exercise is going to be a guided brainstorming exercise.
Our aim here is to end up with a list of all the Flow activities that you could possibly enjoy.
Don't worry just yet, you're not going to end up with a 100 things to do each week. We'll be keeping only the best and most meaningful ones by the end of the next section.
Below are Five Categories where Flow activities reside.
Get a piece of paper, and try your best to think of activities you will enjoy doing. Write them down next to each category:
While doing this, rememeber the Three Conditions of Flow that we talked in the previous article, What is Flow and why does getting into it makes you Happier?
Oh I see, maybe you have the memory of an amoeba.
No worries, these are down below:
The activity must be challenging based on your current skill level.
There are immediate goals and feedback for each session.
You feel intrinsically rewarded by growing your physical or intellectual skills.
Ready? Let the brainstorming begin. You might already have a few off the top of your head.
Activity Time: Five Categories of Flow Activities.
1. Finding Flow in Hobbies.
Perhaps it's time that you finally started learning that musical instrument you've been wanting to learn.
Think of all the new hobbies your might enjoy, for example:
Learning to cook Singaporean food like Char Kway Teow
Learning to bake cookies and colourful cakes
DIY beer brewing (Not sure if possible in Singapore)
Reading more books
Playing Chess or Checkers
Learning to play the Ukelele or even, gasp, taking up the recorder again.
As a further example, my wife and I recently started on a 2,000 piece jigsaw, while my dad in his mid-sixties just picked up playing the drums.
2. Finding Flow in Sports and the Body
Sports and physical activities are reported as one of the best ways to get into Flow.
This is especially since all of our attention is focused on controlling and coordinating our bodies during the activity.
Perhaps you've been wanting to try out a new activity like Yoga, or restarting one that you haven't engaged in for a while.
My wife and I have recently started Stand-Up Paddle boarding, while I picked up long-distance swimming again since I stopped competitive swimming nearly 20 years ago.
If you already play a sport, you can think about whether you want to take your mastery to the next level.
3. Finding Flow in Creativity
As Albert Einstein once said "Creativity is intelligence having fun".
There is probably no deeper desire for any human being than to create something, and creativity can be expressed in so many different ways.
If you're finally thinking of starting that blog or book you've been wanting to write, I strongly urge you to do so.
Its incredibly rewarding!
I have another friend who took up painting just three years ago. She's just had her first art exhibit!
Whether it's writing, poetry, painting, sketching, creating music, designing clothes or handbags, or drawing comics, your creativity needs an outlet.
With the right goals and challenge, you'll find Flow in the process.
4. Finding Flow in Intellectual Learning.
What are some areas you are fascinated by and want to know more about?
These days, there are so many online portals offering in-depth and free resources where you can learn just about anything, such as on Coursera or EDX.
You can even use your SG Skillsfuture credits to take up a new course.
One of the most engaging periods of my life was when I learned programming. I studied any time I could, whether on the train home, during meals or on the weekends.
Each time I finished I would feel rewarded with the newfound knowledge and increased confidence in myself.
Learning does however require a lot of self-regulation.
We need to set clear goals for ourselves and to be able to update them as we go along.
Beyond the long-term goals, we must also have shorter-term milestones to keep us motivated along the journey. Otherwise we might quickly run out of steam and lose interest in the subject.
5. Finding Flow in your Work
Depending on the setup of your job, this could be a tricky one for many of us. In fact, I could probably devote an entire article to this alone.
When your job is designed around clear goals and feedback, finding Flow becomes a whole lot easier.
For many of us, this is probably not the case.
It then becomes up to us to find ways to create Flow.
For example, could you try doing work sprints for periods of time? That's what I do to gamify my work and try to get something done as fast as I can in a set amount of time.
This might also allow you to create more time for other more meaningful Flow pursuits like learning.
Don't tell my boss, but by clearing most of my work in little sprints, it leaves me pockets of time to do more online learning.
Don't limit work to just your day job either.
What about that side hustle you've been thinking about for a while? Why not start now with your free time, especially if you have plans to move to that full time in the future?
Now it's your turn to Brainstorm.
Take some time and list down the possible Flow activities that interest you in each of the five categories.
For each activity, do check back to see if they meet the three criteria of Flow too.
Include the ones that you currently work on as well as we will be evaluating them in the next exercise and reviewing how much time to spend on them in the third exercise.
When you've finally got your list, feel free to move on to the next exercise.
We'll next be using a goal-orientation framework to help us choose the Flow activities that we really really want to do.
We'll be shortlisting from the previous brainstorming activity, and ending up with a handful of only the most meaningful activities to work on.
How did your brainstorming session go? How many activities did you think up? Do share them in the comments and share this article with friends who need it! Thanks for reading Kaya Toast for the Soul!