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Flow State: Why Building Conditions For It Is More Important Than Achieving It

Flow is such a popular term and we put those that we perceive to be in flow state on a pedestal as exemplary performers so often. But the very fact that we think we understand it, or try to pursue it, goes against the idea of achieving it.

Mihály Csíkszentmihályi saw flow as a highest state of productivity and even happiness. However, that is often misinterpreted, as getting there (much less staying there)is probably not going to happen if all you’re focused on is achieving flow. Which means, we need to find ways to use the pursuit of flow to achieve productivity and happiness.

Schaffer (2013) proposed seven conditions of flow:

  • Knowing what to do
  • Knowing how to do it
  • Knowing how well you are doing
  • Knowing where to go (if navigation is involved)
  • High perceived challenges
  • High perceived skills
  • Freedom from distractions

But in combination with Gödel’s Incompleteness Theory, we find that some of these conditions become impossible to meet as we are constantly starting from a new zero, a new beginning, with different variables.

Due to this, we need to stop trying to reach flow as a destination and really identify how to leverage the journey to it.

How do we make the journey to flow something that provides us higher levels of productivity and fulfillment?

We embed flow conditions into our daily culture, then measure it, in order to prioritize the pursuit as the destination that we seek. It is important to note that there is not aspect of this that relates to one group (sport, business, etc), but instead our methodology is impactful for individuals as well as any group they may be a part of.

One of the things that we do in our FLW project is to design variables that fit into Schaffer’s conditions of flow, measure their presence (or lack of) and then identify the current (and future) potential of flow conditions moving forward.

When we incorporate these variables into our day to day habits, not only do we achieve higher productivity and joy in our daily processes, we increase the likelihood of the “cherry on top” where some participants experience a flow state.

Check out the FLW Project


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