It's Monday morning, and you feel excited about your planned productive week. Your gym gear is packed, healthy food is prepared, your diary is organised, and you're ready to attack the week and take leaps forward towards your goals!
It's now Wednesday. Life has thrown you some unexpected curve balls. Your body feels exhausted because you've been training like an Olympian, and your batteries feel drained after an already busy week. Yet, you desperately want to keep moving forward and kick ass. Still, the energy simply isn't there, which results in your productivity and performance levels taking a significant nose dive. When you neglect the big things on your schedule, a sense of guilt quickly set's in. You often feel terrible because you beat yourself up for not getting stuff done, or you lean into forgiving yourself and not doing much for the rest of the week.
I know these feelings too well after years of being a highly driven, goal-chasing individual. Here's the thing, you either endure feelings of guilt because you're neglecting your true potential, or you live care-free and take steps backwards from your goals. It’s a nasty lose/lose scenario that most of us who want to achieve great things in life will ultimately encounter.
This dilemma has motivated me to write this blog to help you, the individual like me, who is driven to get more out of life. There are 2 powerful techniques that I'm using just now to write this message to you. These techniques will help you keep your focus and energy on what you should be doing whilst improving yourself every day!
Flow state is NOT some vague and fanciful term that many in the West think. It's a human scientific phenomenon where an individual is in a complete deep sense of focus and concentration. On a chemical level, here are the things that will happen to your brain:
There is a great deal of other physiological benefits that happen throughout the body. But, still, just to grab your attention, I'm sure you can see that getting your brain into these states is an excellent thing to practice.
This is the remarkable thing about moving into a state of flow. You can feel lazy and unmotivated to do anything. Still, once you move into this state, you're off on a hyper-focused euphoric journey doing stuff. You will have experienced this many times, like when you feel drained and don't want to go to the gym. Still, you drag yourself there and weirdly have the best workout, or you smash your personal best at something whilst feeling good doing it. Sometimes, it may even be doing something so mundane, like the painful task of cleaning out your garage. Still, before you know it, you've been at it for an hour and feel possessed to keep going until the job is done.
To move into a state of optimal mental and physical performance, you're going to need to be disciplined with the following routine:
Step 1 – Remove all distractions. Turn your phone OFF, and close your email and any other device or thing (including people). Now you are forced to deal with only two things. The task in hand which you want/need to do, and the crazy thoughts running through your mind.
Step 2 – Gain clarity. This is the time to wrestle between your crazy random thoughts and the thinking of what you need to do. Gaining clarity on the task is the prime ignition to allow flow state. This will cut away any psychological drag forces stopping and clears a pathway forwards.
Step 3 – State change. This is about being physical and kickstarting the chemicals in your body to place you in an alert state. Here’s what you can do:
Step 4 – Breaking the task down. Promise yourself that you only need to do this task for 20 minutes, and then you can have a break or leave the job altogether. Giving yourself a window of just 20 minutes will remove the friction from that task which you know will take much longer. However, 20 minutes is enough time to enter the flow state. As I wrote this blog, I promised myself I would just write one paragraph. Here I am continuing without rest, and I'm three-quarters the way through, and I'm hungry. I keep telling myself I'll stop in a minute to eat, but I literally can't stop typing as I'm writing this message to you! This is what the flow state will do for you.
After using the points above and smashing through the rest of your day, find time to reflect on your day's performance and create improvement metrics to build on for tomorrow.
I like to use a simple A5 notepad to write during the evenings to avoid the digital screens I've been exposed to most of the day. So here, I will take time to think about the seemingly small and big things I experienced throughout the day and how I handled them.
To make this process simple, breakdown your journal into three sections:
This may seem simplistic, but I assure you it's a powerful technique to utilise when you're looking to get better and move closer to your goals. You'll soon witness that the transformation process to achieve your goals is a simple journey of self-improvement. It's in being and doing things each day that we can find the meaningful aspect of the goal journey. The beauty of using both techniques is that you do not need to learn anything new, just practice them and watch your world transform whilst enjoying what you’re doing.
Try to keep this blog handy by saving it to refer to until you reach a level of habit with the above techniques. And if you want to add more to who you are, share this with a friend who would find this helpful.
Until next time