The flow state is a mental state in which a person is fully immersed in an activity and experiences a feeling of energised focus, full involvement, and enjoyment.
But how do you find the elusive flow state?
The five stages of flow
- Struggle Street
- Acceptance Avenue
As a designer, these four stages would emerge each time I would be working on a new collection or trying to make a new fabric work. It got me every time, and even though I knew intrinsically that I would go through a certain path of creative discovery, struggle street is real and is a true test of commitment.
The birth of an idea, not just any idea, one that lights you up.
Where it feels like an actual lightbulb or bolt of lightning goes off inside of us. It glows so bright that you can become obsessed with the idea. How has no-one ever thought of this? This is a game changer, this kicks action into play.
2. Struggle Street
And just as you take off down the road at full throttle you hit a sharp turn and BAM you’ve turned into Struggle Street, where all your insecurities and doubts live.
“Who do you think you are?”
“Your brilliant idea is rubbish.”
This is where the majority of people stop and do not pass go. The stress, the feeling of not being enough is so loud that it forces you to jump back in your car and drive home with your head and your heart hanging low and heavy.
But what if I told you that everything great lives on the other side of struggle?
3. Acceptance Avenue
Struggle Street seems long and impossible. Stress levels are off the charts, anxiety may have stepped in and doubt is knocking loudly at the door. Until out of nowhere Acceptance Avenue becomes visible.
This street seems familiar, the sun is even starting to shine in there.
Understanding and knowing that struggle is a part of evolution and growth allows you to let go of everything and to get perspective on the situation. It allows you to turn the design upside down!
When we are in flow, we seem to 'know' what to do, and ideas come in freely. This is because we are in a state of allowing, and our higher self comes through to guide us. When we are in this state, we are more connected to our intuition, which is our inner knowing, and we start to trust our gut instincts more.
In the midst of designing, I began to know this stage as the “hook”. The design that unleashed the complete collection, the design that kicked off my creative freedom and vision.
This FLOW state kicks in our dopamine and all of a sudden we can become lost in time, lost in the absolute joy of bringing our ideas to life.
As the dopamine gently softens and we allow ourselves to deeply relax and recover, this flow state becomes a part of us, it integrates. It becomes the proof that we need to believe in ourselves and know that we can achieve great things.
This incredible natural high, reminds of what is possible and who we really are.
The familiar path
Wouldn’t it be great if we could simply float through these 5 stages in sequence?
But generally that’s not what happens.
We go from lightbulb to struggle street and shoot back out with doubts.
Allowance Avenue may be there but it’s not at the end of Struggle Street this time it’s right back at the beginning. And once again when we allow ourselves to be open to the process a new lightbulb may appear and the journey begins again.
Success is not a linear path!! Embrace the roller coaster ride.
Flow not force
The difference between being in flow and forcing something lies in the level of ease and effort. When we are in flow, everything seems to come naturally, and we are in a state of allowing. This means that ideas come easily, and our actions are guided by our intuition.
In contrast, when we force something, we are trying to control the outcome, and we are in a state of resistance. This can lead to frustration, anxiety, and a sense of being stuck.
The sensations of being in flow and forcing something are completely different, and it is important to be mindful of which state we are in. When we are in flow, we are in a state of flow, and we are open to new possibilities.
When we are forcing something, we are closed off and limiting our potential.
A lightbulb will feel like it fell from the heavens.
Let it come in naturally.
Do things that you love to let it come in.
Let each stage be part of your flow.
So, what stage are you at?
What is one thing you can do this week to allow the wonderful ideas to drop in?
Remember time is an illusion and it doesn’t matter if it takes a day, a month, a year or a lifetime.
Once you find the right lightbulb, trust me, you won’t want to let go!
This blog has been created and designed to inspire you to Become the Creative Director of your life.
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