Forget Resolutions, Aim for Flow.

 Throw out those IMG_8069 (2)New year’s Resolutions today!

You know, I know, we all know: they don’t work.

Try something new this year:

Allow 2015 to be filled with countless moments  of deep joy.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

How can you achieve this?

Before we explore that, let’s look at the difference between pleasure and enjoyment.

Pleasure is the instant gratification we look for to compensate for the daily grind that we experience. We experience pleasure when we flop in front of the TV after a long day. We experience please when we eat a packet of crisps to stave off hunger pangs. We look forward to the pleasure of a glass of red wine at the end of a long week.

Pleasure helps us to relax, escape and feel better.  All good but pleasure alone does not leave us feeling contented for long!

Pleasure alone is  shallow and doesn’t provide for growth and enjoyment.

Constant pleasure-seeking will get you into a cycle of needing more and more pleasure to make you happy – but the happiness continues to elude you.

One of the side-effects of pleasure-seeking is boredom – this leads to you taking greater risks in pleasure seeking –  like drinking more, eating more and other addictions. You’ll experience momentary pleasure along with a deeper feeling of anxiety, dissatisfaction and unhappiness.

How is enjoyment different to pleasure?

Enjoyment involves learning, stretching and challenging yourself so that you can overcome the limitations you assume you have.

Enjoyment helps you to accomplish aspiring goals. Enjoyment comes when you gain control over your attention. You focus on a task, fully immersed and attentive on what you are doing.

Enjoyment! This is the place of flow. This is the place of growth. This is the place of contentment.

How to achieve enjoyment:

  1. Give yourself a few opportunities everyday where you allow yourself to work without distractions. Allow yourself to become totally immersed in the task. Focus only on the task and nothing else.
  2. Bring curiosity with you. How can you do this better? How can you do this differently?  What can you try that you’ve never tried before?
  3. Choose tasks that are neither too easy nor too difficult. When you immerse yourself in these kinds of tasks you’ll expand your personal limits. You’ll achieve more. You’ll learn more.
  4. Whilst you work on this task, become mindful of your senses. Notice your body and what you are experiencing through your senses. This allows your mind to quieten and to focus only on the tasks. You’ll find any anxieties and fears disappear whilst you work like this.
  5. Set yourself an intrinsic reward such as solving the problem in half an hour, or discovering some novel ways of approaching the task. This provides a new challenge for you which makes the work more enjoyable and satisfying.

When you give yourself permission to work like this  in small bursts on a regular basis, you will experience joy.

The more often you do this, the better you will become at getting into a flow state, and the longer you will be able to sustain it.

Joy comes from getting in the flow.

What will this do for your life in general?

  • You experience a greater sense of contentment.
  • Work becomes less about grind and more about contribution.
  • You life has meaning and purpose.

How great a goal is that for 2015??

That’s my goal for this year. Are you joining  me?

For more info: Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

“The best moments usually occur
when a person’s body or mind
is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort
to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

About Kirsten Long

Coach. Toastmaster. Prison-worker. Wife. Mother. Friend.

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3 Responses to Forget Resolutions, Aim for Flow.

  1. Pingback: How to Kill Task Avoidance | Kirsten Long, Coach 4 Life

  2. Hi Kirsten, I hope you have a great 2015. I love the concept of a flow state. But the only way I can get into flow is have disciplined habits every day (and then my muse comes when I write). Read Steven Pressfield’s War of Art. It will help you more with flow than most.

    • Kirsten Long says:

      Thanks Jacques. I absolutely agree that discipline is required. The discipline to dedicate that time to allow oneself to work in flow is where a lot of people get tripped up (me included!)

      Thanks for the tip – I will check out the book.

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