To put it simply, life gets better when you can learn to follow the flow. However, taking on this mentality is much easier said than done. It takes practice and discipline to get in the zone or stayout of your own way — whichever way you want to look at it.
When it comes to creative flow or flow regarding your work, the rewards of dropping into this state are endless. The ability to work hard and tirelessly may be considered virtuous; however, the ability to remain inspired and open to ideas is far more powerful.
Believe it or not, every person can benefit from knowing how to achieve creative flow. Creativity isn’t reserved for artists only —it’s what drives innovation inallforms. Polymathy in itself is a very creative process; a healthy appetite for curiosity and the commitment to problem-solving are two concepts that are key in giving birth to new ideas.
In this blog, we’ll take you through a few practical steps that anyone can implement into their daily routine, work life, and approach to general challenges. Utilize these steps consistently, and you’ll find yourself in a place of receptivity more often!
1. Task Concentration
Ensure there are no distractions in your immediate vicinity.
There are so many ways to get distracted these days, and everyone has their favorites. Identify what your favorites are and create some healthy boundaries between you and them. You may have to have a “it’s not you, it’s me” conversation with your Instagram followers, or put off looking for that perfect teapot on Etsy until after you achieve said task. It’s all for the best, and besides, the teapot can wait. This practice will save you more time in the long run to do the things you love.
2. Clarity of Goals and Reward
Set goals and rewards for yourself before beginning your project. Ensure to reward yourself once these milestones are met!
Despite our complicated lives and inner battles, we humans are pretty easy to figure out. We like rewards and affirmations, and find motivation to perform in order to get them. It can be incredibly empowering to create this system for yourself and your aspirations! Treat yourself to small (or big) rewards every time you accomplish a substantial task, and soon the act of “doing” won’t seem nearly as daunting.
3. Transformation of Time
Allow yourself to lose track of time. Make sure you are not constantly checking the clock.
Think about it — if you’re constantly checking the clock, you’re constantly taking time away from yourself; time that could be spent in much more meaningful ways. Ohh, the irony.
In order to save yourself from this annoying truth, have a little trust in yourself! If you can read this article, you’re old enough to have a pretty good sense of passing minutes or hours without the assistance of your watch, clock, or phone. Have faith that your sense of flow will redirect you when the time is right.
4. Balance Challenge and Skill
Find the balance between relaxation and anxiety, boredom and arousal, and control and worry.
Balance is a big one. If you’re unable to translate, make space for, or moderate the emotions that inevitably come up, your ability to get stuff done will definitely be interrupted. Some feelings or challenges are pretty inconvenient; however, if they’re not taken seriously and dealt with, you’re likely to find bigger issues down the road.
It may sound kind of hokey, but H.A.L.T. is a great method for staying cool, calm, and collected — A.K.A. in the flow. If you’re hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, recognize those feelings and adapt accordingly. It’s not a crime to take a nap in the middle of the day, especially if it can save you from a lack of creativity or complete burnout.
5. Effortlessness and Flow
“Flow is a state of concentration and engagement that can be achieved when completing a task that challenges one’s skills.” - Csikszentmihalyi
When achieved, creative flow can create a really satisfying feeling of effortlessness. With that being said, entering into flow definitely requires effort. A surefire way to fall into flow is by focusing on something that requires you to be heavily engaged. So, next time you’re scared of stepping up to an especially hard task, see it in a new light. Diving into an extra-challenging task head first opens doors to new levels of concentration, and later, understanding.
Creativity Doesn’t Have to Hurt
The starving artist, the tortured writer, the heartbroken musician; we’ve all heard of these tired archetypes before. Dear reader — it doesn’t have to be this way!
For whatever reason, this story and its variations have been glamorized in modern society. What’s more, the theme doesn’t just stick to the arts — the whole “suffering to succeed” philosophy can be found in almost any field. But for all of the icons that we’ve clung to for proof of this concept, we tend to gloss over the many highly successful people that got to where they wanted to be through being healthy, happy, balanced, and compassionate towards themselves.
Let these unsung heroes be your role models. Creativity doesn’t have to hurt — polymathy is proof of that. With a little effort, consistency, and focus, you can find yourself in a flow that FEELS GOOD more often than not.