I used to dream of owning my own business and being a coach. I could just see it; I’d have the easy life. I’d have a relaxed, easy schedule, everything would be light and enjoyable, and I’d be the best boss I’d ever had.
So, imagine my surprise when I opened my practice and promptly created a giant business goal that felt, um…kind of hard.
I’ve repeated that situation every year since. Yes, I’m a good boss. But do I make things easy for myself? Not one bit. I create challenge after challenge for myself. I’m constantly pushing my edge.
Am I trying to torture myself?
Not at all. Actually, I’m having extreme amounts of fun.
To explain why this practice of challenging myself and pushing my edge creates so much joy and delight, I have to share the work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi with you. He wrote the book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, which is an interesting read for any entrepreneur.
When I first read his book in 2010, I realized I’d been accidentally creating a state of flow for myself.
There are a few important ingredients you need to create a state of flow. You need to choose your adventure, have the internal motivation to explore it, create some challenge but not too much challenge, and have a passion for the subject matter.
Csikszentmihalyi explains in Flow that approaching something “in a spirit of adventure and curiosity…for the sake of the experience rather than as a showcase for one’s expertise,” is a key element of flow. Combine that with passion for and enough challenge to engage you fully in what you’re doing and you’ve got the perfect recipe for creating an optimal experience (flow).
Without knowing why I was challenging myself, I stumbled into the joy of creating flow in my business. While it may sound great to have everything be easy as an entrepreneur, it’s actually not. Your business and your life will feel more like play if you are experimenting and challenging yourself, while at the same time, exploring in your zone of passion.
You’ll gain confidence and feel the best when you’re meeting challenges and then creating new levels of competence.
Magic and delight happen when we’re in the flow state; moving, creating, experimenting, discovering, expanding. Sure, we all need downtime. Engage in too much flow and you’ll wear yourself out. Time for restoration is vital. Then it’s time to return to creating more delight through experiencing flow.
A few weeks ago, I was asked to play the violin for an event. It was a situation with not much lead time, very little clarity around when/what I was supposed to play, but lots of beautiful music. I said yes, even though I was just slightly uncomfortable. I knew I’d be challenged, but the chances were high I could do it. It was a perfect chance to experience flow.
Sure enough, it was a challenge. I had to learn fast. But, it was just right. In the end, I got my flow experience out of the deal. It was so much fun, and I developed a new level of confidence in myself.
Having this mindset – choosing to create a state of flow – will change how you understand yourself, work and play.
It’ll make you excited to play in your business. Step into challenges in order to develop your confidence. Play in this way (consciously choosing challenge and experimentation that you decide to experience) and you won’t be nearly as scared. You’ll be rewarded with improved confidence and the feeling of joy.
Finding flow is a key component of Slacker Magic, my method for living life with less self-pressure, more fun, and lots of inner wisdom guidance. As you trust your inner wisdom more, you’ll find yourself discovering new ways to live in flow.
Flow is feminine energy. It births. There is the discomfort of birth and the joy of birth all at the same time. Experiment, play, get curious and toss yourself a little challenge. Discomfort and delight will cohabitate in your body and the magical alchemy of flow will turn it into joy.
Want more flow? Come join me in my Mind-Body Magic Facebook Group where we explore everything mind-body, Slacker Magic, and creating joy.