I thought it might be helpful to begin thinking about the internal processes that can create obstacles to reaching our goal, the dreaded self-doubt. Negative thinking, negative internal dialogues, or roadblocks in our mind can interfere with achieving our goal. Sometimes our anxiety can get the best of us and immobilize us. Don't panic...stay the course!!!!. Staying in the zone or "flow" can be used to help transform setbacks into opportunities for growth. It is important to note we are very analytical and often "fear the worst happening" and automatically think negative. Progress rarely comes in a straight line. But sometimes, we think one step back means we've gone all the way back to square one, which causes us to give up. Use your energy to create a plan to get back on track. Remember impatience is the enemy of change. Setting up a healthy, small successive goals can provide guidance for us to stay in the zone. Get out of your head!!!! Be present in the moment. Be aware of your internal or external "emotional triggers". Allow those momentary setbacks to simply come and briefly wash through your mind. Remaining focused on achievable and attainable goals can be helpful when facing adversity.
What we know about flow is that there are certain factors – some environmental and some internal – that influence it. Steven Kotler calls these “flow triggers,” (i.e., proactive positive ally voices), things that seem to set off the chain of events that leads to optimal experience (Kotler, 2014). Immersion in the activity, a healthy set of challenges, and a sense of control over temporary setbacks are all examples of this. By focusing on these triggers, and finding ways to incorporate them more fully in your life, you are much more likely to experience the state of flow, or optimum performance. To better understand how to weave more flow into your life, let's examine some important factors.
Three Things to Remember When Setting Goals
Clear goals also promote flow. When we know exactly what is expected of us, not only can we measure progress, we can also assess our level of mastery. Remember, your goals should be measurable. While its fine for you to say that you would like "to live your best life", and it is a worthy goal, there is no way to measure it. "Living your best life" is simply too subjective. What one person considers happiness, or "getting to happy", another may consider it simply as neutral achievement, or even self-serving. However, if you want to achieve happiness or contentment, you should set goals that may include: writing three positive tasks you achieved for the day; schedule waking up every morning and writing two things down that you can be grateful for, achieve your best physical self by spending twenty minutes doing stretches for upper or lower extremities, exercise three or four times weekly, or doing one act of service for others (this is not an exhaustive list--but simply ideas). Again, goals are subjective, do what fits for your road to optimum or peak performance! With goals like these, it is not hard for you to determine whether or not you have reached them, they are measurable and observable!
Goals should also be time oriented. Much like the example above, a goal to achieve happiness is impossible to measure. But adding a time limit to goals does make them measurable. You can very easily determine if you achieved a task in a day. Time limits not only keep goals clear, but they create a boundary between where you are and where you would like to be (goal attainment). It is this recognition – that you are not where they want to be – that inspires the challenge that goals offer; to become a better version of yourself. I often tell my clients who get stuck, delay, or avoid their goals for someday that " If a goal is important to you create a timeline".
Lastly, goals should be attainable. For example, a goal to run a marathon in two weeks is certainly measurable and time oriented, but if you have not been training, probably not very attainable (without some serious pain). You always have to be capable of achieving your goal. On the other hand, this might be a perfect goal for a someone who regularly clocks twenty-mile runs. The reason attainability matters is because when goals are attainable they provide a glimmer of possibility. While you may have to struggle to reach them, they appear just possible enough that you will give it a try. As you will remember, one of the conditions of flow is that we experience a balance between our perception of our skills and our perception of the challenge in front of us. Feeling that the goal is possible (with some hard work) means that you got the balance right.
Here are an example of concrete goals: Things that can be considered health productivity performance
List three things you are grateful for every day.
Help one person every day for one week.
Forgive three people who have harmed you in one week.
Do fifty pushups every day for one week.
Walk ten miles in one week.
Drink a green smoothie every day for one week.
Complete one new project every day for one week.
Get up fifteen minutes earlier every day for one week.
Spend twenty minutes every day preparing for the next day’s tasks.
Choose one task to master in one week.
Select three new challenges for yourself every day for one week.
Train with someone better than yourself two times in the next week.
Take two hours to research templates of current professional styles when revising your resume/curriculum vitae.
Take an hour to assess changes needed when updating your resume (i.e., skills, knowledge, and abilities).
Arrange date and time to have a colleague provide constructive feedback on your revised resume.
Learn a new hobby/skill. Enroll and make time to take a six to eight week adult community learning class.