Get in flow for the long haul

You know the feeling: you’re working on a project you fully enjoy, the rest of the world fades away, time slows, and you’re in that zone where everything you do feels… just right. If you’re a work practices geek like me, you’ve probably read a whole book on that experience: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.

But you don’t have to have read the book to get the feeling; flow happens to all of us. Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced Cheek-Sent-Mee-High) and his colleagues found that people in cultures around the world experienced the elusive feeling of flow at all ages during a wide variety of activities. Assembly line workers and retirees, shepherds and teenagers all described a very similar phenomenon. Csikszentmihalyi’s research showed that while it can’t be forced, flow is possible when your attention is focused on achieving realistic but challenging goals – conditions that happen at work, but also in sports and art. And when it is achieved, the rewards are nothing short of joy, transformation, and a sense of completeness. 

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