How to cultivate a flow state
WHAT IS FLOW?
Athletes describe flow like they are invincible. Time speeds up. You stop worrying about what other people think. Tunnel vision sets you. Your energy output feels effortless.
It’s a peak human experience, and many of the most incredible human performances and feats have resulted from a flow-state.
So how do we achieve more flow?
We experience flow when we develop a high level of skill in an area, and challenging ourselves adequately. Pushing yourself to complete a marathon often results in a flow state, whereas eating a pound of doritos would likely result in little or no flow state - it requires minimal focus or skill.
You probably encounter micro-flow states throughout the day - navigating traffic with two screaming kids in the car, cooking for a large party of people, or dealing with a complex problem at work. Seeking out these small moments of flow results in a greater sense of happiness in your life in general.
Interestingly, it’s actually your belief in your skill level that enhances and influences a flow state. When you get down on yourself in a race, the minutes start stretching into hours, and the suffering takes over. Conversely, “you got this, you can do this!” results in a laser focus, and can help you push past boundaries and limitations.
Unfortunately, flow doesn’t grow on trees. It’s not something that you can just dream up, or force, either. It’s a skill. Something that requires care and refinement; yet there’s no guarantee it will happen. But you can put yourself in situations where you’re more likely to experience it. Luckily, many of these overlap with your activities as a runner, so there’s a bit of a sweet spot here for us!
Here’s what you can do:
- Develop a skill - run, run, run!
- Set clear goals that challenge you - 5k, 10k, half-marathon, marathon, with specific times you want to hit
- Use resources (hint hint, Weav Run! 😉) to help you get there!
- If you don’t push your limits, you’re less likely to fully engage your mind - the greater the challenge, the greater the reward!
- Understand your ‘why’ (deeper motivation) for your goals, and connect with them daily; if it’s “I’m running in honor of my grandfather,” write that in a little note and stick it in your wallet!
- Avoid passive activities (aka ice cream and TV and Instagram scrolling (UNLESS it’s our feed 😉)
Building skill and challenging yourself over time leads to a rich, fulfilling life. And who doesn’t want that? So get out there and run!