demand perfection, do your best and enjoy it, marvel at how well you
can do things. (3) Focus on what is happening, not on fears or hopes
of what will happen. (4) Stop trying to win, let yourself go, get in a
groove where the effort is effortless, go full force but without criticism.
(5) Accept yourself, fears and mistakes and all; play a good inner
mental game and the external performance will be OK; don't try too
If you are seeking "flow," as described by Csikszentmihalyi (1990),
you need to set your own goals (you can't get wildly enthusiastic about
carrying out someone else's life mission) and work on tasks that are
really important and meaningful for you. Your goals determine the
challenges you face and the skills you need to succeed. Since the goals
are of your own choosing and involve interesting challenges, the tasks-
to-be-done or your "work" fascinates you. This is especially true if you
make your specific assignments difficult enough to match your current
skills and drive level.
Next, throw yourself into the work with zest, immerse yourself in
the activity. Keep the difficulty of the work at a level that stretches
your ability and skills. Set challenges for yourself! Develop your ability
to concentrate on the task at hand. One can't get into "flow" if you are
frequently distracted (you aren't in control). Skills need to be
developed constantly--and the job made more difficult (or the goals
set higher) in order to use those new skills.
Concentrated attention leads to thorough involvement. A great
athlete must concentrate, just as a good reader or a good listener
must. You become so involved that you do not attend to the external
world beyond your task and, therefore, you are not self-conscious. You
lose your sense of self; you become a part of the system of activity
(just as a good basketball player concentrates on all the players, not
just on his/her actions).
The person in "flow" enjoys the experience. Even when great goals
are not being pursued, because one has learned to control his/her
mind, the ordinary experiences of life (and the grimy tasks) will be
satisfying. You will appreciate a song bird, watching children play,
walking in a park, etc. But the final result of being so efficient and
productive will be creative achievement. To remain a high level of self-
satisfaction, you will develop more and more skills; thus, you will be
successful in doing something worthwhile if you have chosen your
goals well. You will achieve an optimal performance almost without
effort; you forget time and your troubles.
You can't stay in "flow" all the time, just try to stay in the groove as much as possible.