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Getting "In The Zone"
30 June 2016
Ever had a day when things just seem to click? When life just felt right and you were full of energy. You may be running from one thing to the next but strangely it’s not draining you. In fact, you’re enjoying it and feeling good at the end of the day. You’re “in the zone” and life just seemed to flow that day.
Then there are those ‘other’ days. When you’re frustrated and drained. When life feels just a wee bit out of control. You can’t shake this nagging feeling that life is a little bit ‘off center’ and you’re questioning if there is more.
You’re the same person and equally busy on both those days ….. so why the difference ? A life in flow is when you’re being authentic to yourself. When you are being ‘you’. When you are focused on what truly matters to you and importantly, you are making intentional choices on how you spend your time and energy. It’s when you are living with a clear sense of self and using that as your compass to guide your actions and decisions.
We call that living in line with your values. Simply put, your values are what you consider as your most important priorities in life. While moral principles like trust, honesty or integrity guide how you behave; your values drive what you naturally focus on.
Clarity of your values is like having a direct line of sight to your personal true north. It’s who you are at your core. It’s what you truly value in life and explains why you naturally gravitate to, and focus on certain things (and people for that matter) …and away from other things. Most of your values are defined through experiences in your childhood and early adult years. Some values evolve as you go through significant milestones in life. For many people, getting married and having children for example, will change their topmost priorities in life.
Having a clear understanding of your values is a critical cornerstone to living a life in flow. The state of ‘flow’ was originally defined by psychologist, Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi as that feeling of effortless action we experience during the best moments of our lives. It’s when we’re happiest completely focused and immersed in that moment pursuing clear and challenging goals that stretches our abilities. Athletes often describe that feeling as ‘being in the zone’.
Well, this is all interesting, you might think ….but what the heck has it got to do with having a life in flow?
Like athletes who feel in the zone, a life in flow feels effortless as you are focused, engaged and energised. You allow your values to be your internal compass guiding how you prioritise your time and energy. Life is challenging but pleasantly so, as your life and work goals are clear and aligned to what truly matters to you so they make sense. You no longer question if there is more as you know where you want to go in life and you’re living to your fullest potential.
Ignoring your values is like trying to make a compass point somewhere else other than due north. A tremendous amount of energy is required. You force yourself to be someone else, prioritise things that are not innately important to you; and set your life and work goals based on what you think you ‘should’ or ‘must’ be doing. Life gets tiring, frustrating and draining. You land up in this constant loop of constantly looking for external motivations, for reasons to justify why you should keep pushing towards your goals and even then, you can only do it for so long.
I’m a huge believer in the power of clarity that comes from knowing your values. It’s helped me navigate important and difficult decisions in my life, and I’ve seen it bring clarity and focus to others.
If there is one thing you can do to bring your life more into a state of flow, get clear on what truly matters to you. Dig deep. You may be surprised by what you’ll learn when you’re truly honest with yourself.