Mentally Standardize Your State of Flow and Call It Into Mind
At this stage, you should already have established states of flow. You should already be achieving that mental and emotional state. Now, the next step is to call it into mind. In other words, make it happen on demand.
As I’ve mentioned in the introduction to this book, the fact that you achieve states of flow from time to time is not enough. Because, let’s face it, everybody achieves a state of flow from time to time. What you’re shooting for is something dramatically different. You’re shooting to achieve that state of flow on command.
It is not based on how you feel, not based on whether there is the right kind of drama around you, and it doesn’t matter whether people are pushing you and are properly supportive. No. You must be able to call this state of mind on command, based on your will, based on your decisions, and based on your agenda. This is how you separate consistently and habitually successful people from everybody else.
How do you do this? Well, follow the steps below.
Step #1: Pay attention to your performance
Get ready for the next time you achieve a state of flow. Anticipate it. Be ready for it.
What are you going to do when it happens? Well, the next time you achieve a state of flow, take notes. Savor it. Stop for a second and tell yourself, “I am in a state of flow. This is happening.” Allow yourself to get emotionally absorbed in the process. Try to remember every detail of your mental and emotional experience.
Remember, the hallmark of a state of flow is when things become really easy and everything is predictable. You make a move, something positive happens. You make another move, and another thing happens. Remember every detail of this mental and emotional state.
Step #2: Simplify it in a form you can quickly call into mind
Please understand that since you are feeling certain things and thinking about certain things, you can create a formula, or at least an adequate description of your state of flow. Pay attention to what happened before, during and after that state.
Step #3: Test your ability to trigger states of flow on command
Now that you have written down the last time you were in a state of flow and you’ve kind of broken down the different elements, think about how your motivation spikes up. Think about it and see if your mental clarity increases. That’s how you know you’re on the right track. Keep tweaking until the mental images that you’re thinking of truly triggers a state of flow.
I wish I could tell you that this is very easy. I wish I could tell you that there is some sort of cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all solution for this. There is not. You just have to do it on your own. You just have to keep tweaking those mental images until you reach that high level of mental and emotional clarity.
Your motivation level must be palpable. You must truly feel it. You’re not playing mind games with yourself. You’re not deluding yourself. This is real because the motivation you feel, paired with mental clarity, translates into actual results.
This is important. Because you know you’re just engaging in self delusion when you feel good, but that’s it. You know you’re onto something real when you’re able to produce more work and that work meets higher standards of quality. That’s when you know you have triggered a state of flow. Everything else is a mental mirage. Know the difference.
Step #4: Try it consistently
When you feel your motivation triggered by this mental image that you use to enter a state of flow, keep it going by focusing on mental images that you know trigger your state of flow. You can also do this when you feel your motivation is lagging. Try to spike it up with the right mental image.
You’re probably going to have to switch through many different mental images until you get it right, but that’s okay. The key is to identify a consistent mental image that puts you in that place.
Step #5: Double your efforts
Here’s the secret: when you have the mental image and you’ve achieved that state of flow, put it to use. Double your efforts. Allow yourself to do twice as much as before. If you’re only able to file one report for your job each day, use your state of flow to do two, then three, then four. Go with that feeling.
Don’t say to yourself, “Well, I have met my quota already” or “What am I doing? If I step up my production, chances are, my supervisor, my boss, or the owner of the company would increase their expectations of my productivity. I might be shooting myself in the foot here.”
Forget all those doubts. Just go with the feeling that now you are taking ownership of an important part of your life. Before, you were lazy, unmotivated, and you were just doing the bare minimum to avoid getting fired. Now, you are going to be a star. You’re going to be one of the few assets in the company that you work for.
Did you know that in any given organization, 20% of the people there account for 80% of the results. This is called the Pareto Principle, also called the 80/20 rule. If you want to get anywhere in life, be part of the 20%.
The 80/20 rule is an iron rule of human life. Did you know that 20% of the population own 80% of the wealth? 20% of the population pay the vast majority of the taxes? 20% of any NBA team account for 80% of their points? This applies across the board. This is hardwired into the human condition.
Be part of that 20%. Let it happen. Double your efforts today.
Step #6: Push harder on more difficult tasks
Focus on getting a crystal clear view of the mental image that triggers your state of flow. Zoom in on it. Allow it to sink in.
Once you get triggered and you’re extremely motivated, just let it happen. Don’t brake it. Don’t stop. Don’t edit yourself.
Don’t say, “I’m just doing too much” or “I’m taking on something that’s too big.” No. Just focus on your harder tasks and just push through. Allow the momentum to carry you forward.
Don’t mentally say, “What am I doing?” Don’t think of any thoughts or images that would make you doubt what you’re doing. Let the momentum carry you forward.
This is how you mentally standardize your state of flow and call it into command. The more you do it, the more natural it becomes. Eventually, it becomes part of who you are, and success becomes habitual.