How to be in the Flow Rather Than Frantically Chasing Goals

Goals…long-term, near-term, S.M.A.R.T., however we define them, most agree that they should be documented, measurable, and then broken down into smaller units, mini goals, or projects -- and then sifted through some more until next actionable steps surface.  Once we know our next steps then we must schedule them and implement strategies to stay in action.  After being in action for awhile we return to our goals to measure and reevaluate.  How close are we?  Do we need to correct course?  Where’s our motivation?  Is the timeline accurate?

Photo by David Paschke courtesy of Unsplash

Photo by David Paschke courtesy of Unsplash

After an evaluation we adjust coarse and try again.  We employ systems of punishment and rewards layered with positive or negative self-talk as a means of motivation to stay the course and continue progress until our next opportunity to measure and reevaluate.

**Phew** I’m tired just thinking about it!

What I’ve noticed is that people who hold their goals tightly, who cling to them as if reaching them is a matter of life or death, are often chasing a desired result because they think reaching that goal will get them something they currently experience as lacking; such as a feeling of accomplishment, financial security, a sense of well-being, or worthiness.  They believe their feeling state and their value are based on their ability to achieve.

So how would it look if we already had what most people are looking for?  What if we already had peace of mind, a sense of security, and unshakeable well-being? What if there was nothing to fix, or prove, or change?  What if we were filled to the brim with ease and grace, completely comfortable in our own skin, and content with current circumstances?

What if we were complete, well, and whole… right now?

It’s easy to imagine that if we’re not reaching or striving to get to the next “thing”… the next “it”… that we wouldn’t do anything at all.  But when fear, struggle, and discontent melt away they are replaced with inspiration, clarity, and presence.

When we’re “in the flow”, whether it’s on a project, playing a sport, or just going about daily tasks, we’re inhabiting that space. The space where fear and unrest have given way to inspiration and ease.

We no longer struggle to arrive at some arbitrary finish line we’ve drawn because we think crossing it will make us better, or prove something.  While in the flow we’re operating from a place of presence, unencumbered by tedious thoughts of “making it”.

We’re headed in the direction of the flow, but we are not terribly attached to where that flow is taking us.  We can hold our dreams lightly and be guided by inspiration, we can go forward with simple grace, or pivot and try something new without fear of looking like a failure.  We become beacons of light for what’s possible, even in the face on impossibility.

So what’s the secret? What’s the secret to getting into the flow? And then spending more time there?

It’s simply understanding where your experience is coming from.  ALL feelings you have are a reflection of your thinking in the moment.  Feelings of insecurity, failure, discontent, all stem from your thoughts…as do “good” feelings. And they occur not as Thought leading to a Feeling, but as Thought/Feeling, a connected whole that happens so quickly it is often not detectable.

The kicker is that we have no control over what thoughts, and therefore which feelings, come to us.  In the same way we have no immediate, direct control over how our heart is beating, we have no direct control over the thoughts/feelings we experience.  Where we do have control, where we have choice, is how seriously we take the thoughts/feelings that come to us.  We can choose to believe they are real and important, or we can choose to lighten up, to see their impersonal nature and move on.

But don’t take my word for it.  Play with it for yourself.  Try controlling the thoughts that are coming to you right now.  Try to stop a thought before it comes into your consciousness.

While there is no way whatsoever to stop a thought before it comes to us, we can choose to take a thought that has already occurred and replay it.  Many people do this to detrimental effect.  They take a painful memory of something that happened years before and replay it again, and again.  So even though that event is no longer happening, they are suffering as if it is.

Now, pull up a memory of your best day ever.  Think of where you were, and relive it as much as possible.  The sights, the sounds, the sensations, the feelings that came at the most wonderful, joyous moment.  While you're resting in these beautiful memories, of this most perfect moment, try to feel badly at the same time.  .....Yeah, I can’t do it either.

Have fun experimenting, have fun observing, but most of all -- have fun playing in the flow.