Go with the Flow
Are you operating on a daily, routine basis from a sense of flow? Do you know what flow is? When you read that sentence, do you smile because you are in the flow? Or does your stomach clench because you’re not, and even worse you know you’re not and that’s making you anxious?
Read on to learn how we lose flow in our lives by trying to keep other people happy. And then stay on to the end for two easy steps to get flow back in your life.
Flow and people pleasing
I’ve just had a weekend where I was most definitely not in the flow, or rather, in my flow. Flow is personal to each of us, and my non-flow has left me out of sorts because I shifted some of my core values in order either to please people, or to make life easier for everyone else except me. This has come at the expense of my own inner peace.
Flow happens when we are totally engrossed and immersed in our chosen activity. [to quote Tony Crabbe, in his book ‘Busy’ ,p.203] For me, flow has another dimension which is to do with essential building blocks. I have built essential building blocks into my life in order to manage my life better and also to enjoy it more. I am sure that many of you have built similar routines into your life.
The importance of essential building blocks
Some of my key building blocks are as follows:
- Allocate time in the weekend for sorting: tidying; filing; grouping; putting clothes away, that sort of thing. This has become vitally important, whether it’s sorting the children’s sports kits, filing work receipts, writing a todo list or tidying up. It’s housekeeping for the brain, and like housekeeping in a 5 star hotel, the neat, tidy, clean, fresh result has a massive impact on my ability to relax and enjoy myself.
- Time with the children – This is where we really do something with each other – play a game 1 on 1, play sport against each other: pool, tennis or a bike ride. It’s not just being in the same room together, it’s interacting with each other.
- Church – I love my church, I love the people there, I love the time I spend there. This is not to say I can’t experience God elsewhere. But it is to say that I enjoy going and it’s a building block in my week.
- Time for me, just to be quiet. Doesn’t need to be a long period of time, could be 30 minutes. But even just that amount of time is enough for me not to feel anxious, pulled in many directions, not grounded.
Don’t remove your building blocks for other people
For one reason or another, my building blocks were removed this weekend. I have to admit, hands up, it was me that removed them. What I thought I was doing was making life easier/better for other people but it came at a high price to me. So, missing Church to get to an event early because everyone else was arriving at that time was not the best choice for me. Neither was sacrificing my housekeeping time in order to meet up with someone who was on their own and who I knew wanted to fill their time.
Guarding your time is not selfish
I know this sounds like I’m being a little selfish. Shouldn’t I be more giving with my time or think of others more and myself less? Yes, there is an argument for that. But my point, to do with flow, is that we are all uniquely equipped to serve our purpose in this world. Flow, for me, comes from knowing that my building blocks are in place to ensure that my purpose is fulfilled. To remove those building blocks is to deny that purpose.
It is right that we should think of others, spend time with them, acknowledge their importance in our lives, but not at the expense of our calling. When my house is tidy, I can work better, I feel more relaxed as I am enjoying being in my personal space, ideas flow easier. When I am on top of my paperwork I’m not anxious about the finances, the budget or the bills.
Use getting it wrong to get it right
Although I feel unceremoniously dumped out on to Monday’s pavement, it has taught me a valuable lesson. Those building blocks that have been slowly put into place are there for a reason – they make my life easier. This weekend’s trainwreck has taught me not to negotiate with them, but to use them to build the structure of my life with them.
2 easy tips to get flow in your life
For those of you looking to get some flow into your life may I recommend the following easy tips for maintaining building blocks and achieving flow.
- Identify what your building blocks are. What is in your week that you need to have in place in order for your life to be able to flow? It could be church, or yoga 1 night a week, or a run, or tidying up, or filing papers, or blocking out 30 minutes each day to go for a walk. Identify, and write down 3 building blocks that are personal to you.
- Write them in your diary. Over a period of 2 weeks, aim to honour those commitments. Make them, rather than the last minute urgencies that come up, the bedrock of your routine.
If you are not used to this way of scheduling it may be tricky at first. Don’t be discouraged if you compromise your building blocks and fall in a heap as I did this weekend. By identifying what is really important to you, you give yourself a much better chance of being fully engaged in all that you CHOOSE to do.
“We achieve real happiness through deep engagement in what we are doing, whatever it is” [Tony Crabbe, p.204]
Give it a go, good luck, persevere with it, you’ve got nothing to lose except the things that don’t really matter.
Have a great week, let me know how it went for you by posting in the comments box below, or join us on facebook to continue the conversation.
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Originally published on 15 June 2015
Updated on 14 August 2020