In last week’s post, I opened up the idea that achieving flow is trainable. You can learn to achieve flow on demand if you implement certain flow triggers.
Here are flow triggers 7-12 to complete the picture for you on some of the most influential triggers to regularly achieving flow states.
Flow Trigger 7 – Novelty
Novelty means surrounding yourself with a rich environment that involves finding things that will catch and keep your attention.
My parents live close to Lake Michigan. It is a short, 3 minute drive for them to visit the lake from their house. Near the lake is an 80+ acre park that includes unspoiled hiking trails along the lakeshore. The views are breathtaking. This provides novelty for my Dad and can provide significant levels of novelty for you by getting out in nature.
My Dad has spoken to many entrepreneurs who also say that anytime they go on vacation, or visit a new place, their motivation and creativity fly through the roof.
Novelty induces flow.
Find a way to get some novelty in your routine.
Flow Trigger 8 – Risk
If you want to get into the zone, take risk.
For a basketball player, this would be the willingness to take the three-point shot at a crucial moment deep in the game in front of thousands of fans.
For an entrepreneur, it’s signing that deal or making that big decision.
Risk doesn’t always mean physical or financial danger; it can be an emotional, social, or mental risk. Either way, you must be willing to take risks.
It’s a sense of adventure and potential for failure that will concentrate your mind and drive you forward.
Flow Trigger 9 – Complexity
Complexity simply means increasing the depth and breadth of your knowledge by seeking out information from many different viewpoints.
An example of this is reading books across multiple lines of subjects. You could read a business book one week, a performance book the next, and then a fiction book after that.
Complexity feeds your learning skills, which enables you to continue to navigate the challenge and skills relationship, growing personally as a way of life.
Complexity will also feed your pattern recognition, which leads to innovative insights, and complexity by nature forces you to concentrate to gain understanding. This trains your ability to focus which drives flow.
Flow Trigger 10 – Pattern Recognition and Creativity
Placing yourself in a creative situation can catalyze flow.
Steven Kotler, author of multiple books on Flow spends time each day reading at least 25 pages of fiction writing, outside of his areas of expertise and work focus.
He does this to fire up his creative thinking and pattern recognition skills.
What might it look like for you to place yourself in a creative environment?
Flow Trigger 11 – Unpredictability
Unpredictability means being able to step outside of your comfort zone and face the unknown. As you do this, the rush of doing so concentrates your mind on the task at hand, triggering flow.
A great friend of mine, Ron Wolforth, along with his wife Jill, owns the Texas Baseball Ranch. Ron has a great quote that I’ve used many times to encourage people to get out of their comfort zones.
He says to many young pitchers, “You must become comfortable being uncomfortable.” This quote has added significant value to my life, but has also helped me grasp that growth happens when we are uncomfortable.
So, build more unpredictability into your daily schedules and experience more time in flow.
Flow Trigger 12 – Deep Embodiment
Deep embodiment means total physical awareness. When you can harness the power of your entire body paying attention to the task at hand, you will feel better and get into the zone more often.
As you approach your focus time, use your five senses to perceive how you feel. Notice things like your heart racing or if you feel relaxed.
Often, prior to doing deep work, I will practice 3-5 minutes of deep diaphragm breathing to help me establish a sense of balance physiologically and psychologically. This allows me to be completely absorbed in the task at hand.
Take notice of the things that feel “off” and work on them. If you avoid recognizing these things, it will distract you and prevent you from establishing flow.
Now that you’ve been exposed to all 12 flow triggers, try employing each one to see which works best for you!
The key to your elite performance is that you out-do yourself everyday. Your ability to be an elite performer does not depend on what others are doing. It depends on you.
Go attack it.