• Niki Ernst

About Flow

There are days in my life where eating self-improvement books and sipping motivation talks is my breakfast treat. These are the days where I feel like theory is Australia and practise is Antarctic (are there two other places with a bigger geographic distance?). I know exactly what I would recommend to a friend in the same situation and logic could instantly deliver a TED like talk about whats going on in my brain and how to get rid of this feeling. 

It’s a feeling of heaviness. Not even of failure. Failure is a cool thing, because you know exactly where you are. You know what got you there, you know what you have learned, you know it sucks - but at the same time Failure a good thing, there is a lot of energy within. Heaviness is different. Heaviness means that you know where you are, you know how to get out there, you will navigate yourself out of it, but you also know tomorrow, you will wake up with the exact same feeling, again. That’s heaviness. The load of daily defragmenting your mental hard drive and reformatting with your mantra of the day. It works. You’re all good. But next morning, you will be there, again.

The opposite of heaviness is flow. Everything comes together like naturally, when you are in the flow. It’s also easy to keep your energy level on peak when you have the flow. All the books from “Think and Grow Rich” (Napoleon Hill, 1937) to “Dare to Lead” (Brene Brown, 2018) are all natural, logic and real for you: You fly through their pages with a smile and a “yeah, sure” on your lips. Flow is the best, it feels like a superpower, a life in abundance. I never met anyone being worried, nervous, stressed, lacking energy, when in a flow. Never.

The elephant in the room is how to get there. And stay there. The method box has a few very useful tools about getting into flow:

• surround yourself with successful people. Peter Sage says, we become the average of the peer group we surround is with. And I have zero doubt about that. He differentiates between formal and informal circles. The informal circles are friends you meet, the format circles are dedicated groups with defined rules about how people treat each other within this group and how and how often you meet in person. Both have a strong impact on your personal development. If your life is like a boat, you just have to find a way to elevate the water. • (better) understand your financial thermostat. My personal vision is to have higher passive income than cost of living by age 50. What does this mean for me, do I feel doubtlessly fine with what I will make annually, to achieve this goal? Make more and spend less - is a very easy formula to get there. Make more is sexy. How can we turn “spend less” into sexy, as well? Easy: Buying stuff means gratification, not buying stuff means keeping freedom. If you replace money with freedom (money and happiness does not really go together, but money definitely buys you freedom, hence money=freedom is a valid equation), you also understand that every gratification comes with the price of freedom.

• Don’t fight your brain. Not-doing something can be seen as procrastination (=toxic) or can be seen as freeing up time to do something else. If you allow yourself the freedom to just always decide what you want to do next, the feeling of procrastination will automatically dissolve. 

I think, the most useful tool to avoid heaviness and celebrate flow is early detection. Like with any other disease, it is always easier to kill something before it gets strong. 

Here is my early-detection anti-flow power-insight:

You know you are in a flow when you don’t bother too much in moments, in which you are not in the flow.

The most established flow-mechanism is parking in front of the door. Some people always park in front of the door, some people never park in front of the door. The latter already park miles away from where they actually want to go, because they know, they will not find a parking in front of the door, anyways. I am not going into law of attraction, here (and why some always park in front of the door and others never), I am taking the analogy to better understand flow. When parking in front of the door means flow, people who always park in front of the door never really care if for one time they will not find a parking in front of the door. The absence of their parking luck does not make them question their experience: they know, next time they will park in front of the door, again.

Every time you find yourself in a situation where things don’t go the way they should and you realise, you care too much about it, you are in early stage of heaviness, the absence of flow, brain-stuck. This is the moment where your alarm system should go bonkers and you should put all energy into bringing yourself back into a stage where you know that this situation is just an abnormality from default and not your new default. Because if you don’t, it will become your new default, and getting out of THIS is one of the toughest cookie ever baked. Trust me.

PS: If you are interested in the topic flow from a more scientific approach, watch and read Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

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