Getting to “Flow”

You begin and lose track of time. You blink, and one hour has gone by. When was the last time you were “in the zone”? This intense feeling is energizing and happy. Most of us have experienced it through activities that we are good at and that challenge us in just the right way. The happiest people find it in everyday life through focus and determination.

Mihaly Czikszentmihaly coined the term “flow” to describe the state of being fully immersed in an activity with focus (“Flow” in Wikipedia, accessed July 24, 2018). His positive psychology continues to be influential, and his TED talk from 2004 is worth watching.

Mental state in terms of challenge level and skill level according to Czikszentmihalyi. From Wikipedia “Flow”

I experience flow at times, mostly when swimming or singing and sometimes when exploring ideas through reading, discussion or writing.  I’ve realized that this past year of work, which was difficult, just didn’t have enough flow. You know how it is, you go along with the emails and the meetings and the phone calls, and you try to climb the mountain of “Things To Do”. I would go home at the end of multiple days of just that, and wonder, is my work meaningful?

After listening to Czikszentmihalyi’s talk and his description of people finding flow in everyday work, I’m inspired to think more deeply about how I can change. It can’t be up to anyone but me.  In the diagram above, you see various mental stages related to the combination of skill and challenge. If I feel boredom, apathy, worry or anxiety, then the challenge of a situation does not match my skill. When I scroll through the activities that make up a typical day, I can see exactly where this happens.

For instance, I had some tricky and important meetings this past year. I often felt anxiety beforehand which leads me to think that my skills weren’t quite up to handling these sessions. (Or at least I believed they weren’t.)  Now I want to get to flow in these kinds of situations!  I’ll need to reflect on exactly what skills are needed to be successful and then evaluate where I need to improve. Honestly, I’m pretty sure I know already.

I feel energized by this – maybe I’m already experiencing more flow!

EXPLORE – #oneword for 2018

January 1 is a “let’s get to it” day. Last week, I set my reading goal for the year. I created my January bullet journal pages. I also did laundry, but don’t worry, that’s not just a new year’s thing.

Now it’s time for my #oneword which has become a yearly tradition (see my last three #oneword posts below). I choose #oneword because it provides me with a reflection framework. As I’ve mentioned in this space, I’m a terrible procrastinator and setting myself the challenge of choosing #oneword helps me focus.

I also love the brevity of #oneword. Less is more.

This year feels like a gateway year.  My career as a school board employee is coming to an end sometime in the next few years, and I’m thinking about what is next. I want to investigate what it possible. I want to let ideas macerate and mingle.

I’ve always wanted to work on my doctorate – is now the time? What do I want my mark to be on this world? How can I best use my strengths and interests in this part of my life?

This quote from Steve Jobs just appeared in my Twitter timeline and it feels right to use it.

“And most important have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”

That’s what I want to explore this year.


Here’s a big shout out to Julie Balen, Ontario educator, who is leading #onewordONT this year through her Google+ Community OneWordOnt Blogs.  Join and share your #oneword.

Previous #oneword posts:

GRACE – #oneword for 2017

ESSENTIAL – #oneword for 2016

One Word for 2015

Top Three Posts of 2017

I like to do a little roundup of which posts generated the most traffic each year. It’s always interesting, a little like my #bestnine on Instagram.  What others like best is not always what I thought.

Here are the top three of 2017.

Www.pixabay.com

My Leadership Inquiry: the new Problem of Practice 

Thanks to the work of Steven Katz and Lisa Ain Dack, as described in The Intelligent, Responsive Leader, I describe my own leadership inquiry as I work to become a better leader.

A Simple and Powerful Leadership Truth

This was an insight for me, and may be for others too?  I try to keep it in mind every day.

Let’s Have Classrooms Full of Books!

Inspired by visits to classrooms and also the work of Pernille Ripp, a danish-american educator.

What about you – do your year end reflections include a “best of” list?