It happens…things seem to be moving along smoothly (you are in the FLOW) and then insidiously, little breakdowns start happening. A glitch here, a snafu there, a bugaboo, an irritant or annoyance that keeps cropping up and starts gumming up the works. You’ve one from FLOW to FUNK; and it ain’t pretty.
SO WHAT IS ‘FLOW’ ANYWAY?
Have you ever been so involved in something that when you look up hours have flown by? That you have done something that has required all your focus, attention and energy? According to Hungarian-born psychologist Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi this means you are ‘in the flow’. This is an experience that he described (after over 25 years of research) as “The best moments that usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”
Being in the flow combines the perfect blend of challenge and ease. It’s a good kind of struggle. Time slips away, focus is complete and you are using your skills and abilities to the utmost.
When I think of flow I have a mental image of faucets and pipes (not a particularly elegant picture, but it works for me). Turn the faucet and a beautiful steady gush of creativity, productivity, energy, and ideas flow out fresh, clean and sparkling.
Sometimes, (actually often), my flow can get slowed down to a trickle by those aforementioned glitches, snafus, and bugaboos (oh my!). Those things (again, work with me and my mental images) tend to look like little globs of gunk that get stuck somewhere along the pipes and start slowing down the flow. These little globs start collecting more ‘dirt’ and start getting bigger and bigger; all the while slowing down the flow and before you know it…the flows dries up to a trickle and you are all jammed up. Ugh…Doesn’t feel good, does it?
Here are some of my ‘liquid plumber’ strategies to get the gunk out and get the flow moving again.
- Stop trying to force it. Cranking the faucet harder is not going to help. Indeed, when you try to force the flow the whole structure gets compromised. Most of the time one of two things are going to happen: the flow dries up to a drip or something blows and a tidal wave of overwhelm happens.
- Change something. Maybe you need to get outside, maybe you need to read something ‘mindless’, maybe you need to hit the gym, have a cup of tea…whatever. It doesn’t have to be a major change, just something, anything, that will shift your perspective.
- Laugh. A lot of times when I’m stuck I go for the humor. Maybe it’s watching a few minutes of watching my favorite comedian (Kevin James, if you’re curious), reading something funny, looking at pictures that make me smile; laughter really will help clear out the gobstoppers.
- Shift your view. Many times taking a birdseye view is helpful: In the grand scheme of things; does this really matter? What’s the worst possible thing that could happen? Worst case scenarios rarely, if ever, happen.
- Start writing. Now I don’t mean if you’re not a writer that you suddenly become one; what I mean is that writing down the gunk allows you to look at it more objectively and diffuses the power that they have over your flow.
Did you know that losing the flow is actually a form of overwhelm? In a few days I’ll be announcing a new class that deals specifically with overwhelm…a perfect topic this time of year! Stay tuned to this space for all the details!
What happens when you get stuck? How do you get the flow going again?