Achieving Flow

I went for my morning swim today. It was only a half mile and it kicked my butt. It made me kind of sad. A half mile used to be my warmup, before I broke my leg. And now a half mile is a workout! Regardless, after a quarter of a mile I was sucking wind. Never mind that I forgot my water bottle or that I hadn’t eaten anything beforehand. I was feeling a lot of things, and none of them stack-ranked against “awesome,” “stellar,” or “fantastical.”

And then, I had that familiar moment. That time when my rhythm found a certain clarity, when everything momentarily aligned. Your ability to achieve flow in your work, training, creative endeavors, and the like is incredibly important. It isn’t until you’ve planned and executed on something that you can achieve flow. I don’t think flow is extemporaneous. You earn it. Inspiration is spontaneous, but flow is intentional.

In a moment of flow, everything feels effortless. You don’t realize what’s going on until it’s over and you’re able to reflect on your masterpiece (a workout flawlessly executed?).  In an effort to achieve flow in the inevitable ebbs of life, I’ve decided to get organized a bit. It’s one thing to have a bunch of ideas floating around in your head. The what-ifs. The could-have-beens. Getting it out on paper (or in this case, screen) makes it feel more real, tangible, plausible. It forces you to strategize. It forces you to timebox and set deadlines and contingencies. It also forces you to see how everything works in tandem. There’s a special magic to it.

Here’s what I came up with. Your designs and results will most likely vary.

 

I know exactly what is important to me (right now, at least) and the things in each area that I want to accomplish. I also recognize that things will change — that the desires and milestones are fluid. As circumstances and desires change, so will the chart. And that’s perfectly okay.

What’s also okay is if, at any given point on this timeline, things come to an end. Because I’ve always lived my life to the fullest — living in a way that would minimize the most amount of regrets in the least amount of time — I’m perfectly fine with how things will eventually end up. This isn’t a hard and fast doc meant to dictate my life. This is meant to give structure to some of the thinking I’ve done intermittently on Monday mornings when I get back into the office…the thoughts that creep in my mind while I’m swimming laps or cycling in the living room…the questions that creep up when I enjoy a glass of wine by myself. It’s a living, breathing doc. And things will inevitably change.

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