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How Finding Flow Helps You Decide What To Do With Your Life

How Finding Flow Helps You Decide What To Do With Your Life

Being in my mid 20’s, most would say I have barely scratched the surface when it comes to experiencing life. I would have to agree, but I certainly feel as though I could have much more direction. As I graduated high school I felt like I really knew what I wanted to do with my life. I knew where I was going to college, and I had a major picked out that I was sure of. Due to a number of unfortunate circumstances, I wasn’t able to go away to college as planned, so I was stuck going to community college for my first two years.

I’m not saying anything is wrong with community college. Looking back, I definitely saved a ton of money by doing that. As I started classes, I picked up a bartending job to make extra money for myself. I started meeting people from all over, and I also learned what they did for a living. It got the wheels in my brain turning, “maybe I’m not doing what I want to be doing”, “in 20 years am I still going to love what I’m doing?”, etc.

I decided that it was best for me to take some time off. I have gone to and dropped out of college twice since I initially started back in 2010. Since then I have continued my job as a bartender, and I feel as though my life has been on auto pilot ever since. I’m happy with where I am, the experience I have gained, and the relationships I have formed. That being said, I still feel as though my life doesn’t really have any direction.

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What is “flow” and how do I find it?

In life I think most of us fall victim to trying to be in control of every little thing. By doing so you tend to feel held back, restraiend, and bottled up. Flow is literally the opposite of control. The field of psychology gives one definition:

“Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity.”

I don’t think there’s one specific way to find your flow. For me, I have found that by doing things and being around people that I absolutely love is where I have found just that. I have always enjoyed writing. I would lose track of time when I would sit down at the end of the day to journal.

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Just one day it clicked for me, I so passionately wanted to become a writer. I found that I would get lost in the thought of writing something that other people could relate to. I wanted people to know that they are not alone in how they feel. I think that is so important.

When you find your flow, you’re able to embrace the uniqueness about you as well as your talents. Accept yourself for exactly who you are now. Admit that you haven’t really allowed yourself to pursue the things you’d really like to do with your life. Under all the layers of expectations you have to be able to encourage your “better self”, the person you were truly meant to be.

Need some suggestions to help give yourself a little direction?

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1. Be frugal

What I mean is, if something isn’t directly connected to your “flow”, it should come secondary. Minimize your spending. Downsize your housing, the amount of times you eat out, the amount of money you spend on clothing, etc. Before you do anything, ask yourself if it is going to benefit your state of flow, cut back as much as you can. If it does not bring you to your extremely joyful state, why are you spending money on it?

3. Have Compressed/Uncompressed days

I think it’s important to fill certain days full of all the things we don’t really want to do. Laundry, paying bills, dishes, cleaning the house, etc are all included. No one likes doing these things, so I have found that by doing my best to get it all done over 3-4 days out the week, I’m able to really appreciate my uncompressed days more. Uncompressed days motivate me to get through my compressed days.

3. Lessen your commitments

In life we commit to many things: jobs, romantic relationships, friendships, etc. The trouble with this is sometimes we “over-commit”. By doing so, we end up paying more attention to those things, forget about ourselves, get burnt out, and end up not being able to give as much to others. Your most important investment is yourself. If you find yourself committed to anything that disrupts your peace and your “flow”, pull yourself away from it.

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4. Maintain your flow state

  • Eat a well balanced diet: You’d be surprised how much better you’ll feel when you eat healthier. I don’t mean you need to make drastic changes to your diet, but incorporating more fruits and vegetables could be very beneficial. Making some modifications can really make all the difference.
  • Get enough sleep: Don’t oversleep, but get just enough so that you’ll feel fully rested for the next day. Eight hours should be plenty. Decorate your room in a way that you find to be relaxing so you can fall asleep with ease.
  • Exercise: I would usually recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. This allows you to take a break in your day to give your mind a chance to relax and clear your head. Exercise gives you an extra jolt to get through the day.
  • Spend time with close friends: Don’t get this confused with people you spend time with to just pass time. I’m talking about people who you can truly rely on for anything. The people you can rely on for emotional support, the ones you can go to in other times of need, who you can call at 3 AM and know they will answer. Having that core group of people is incredibly beneficial to your flow. They support you and inspire you to become whatever and whoever you truly want to be.

Featured photo credit: www.businessinsider.com via businessinsider.com

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Erica Wagner

Erica is a passionate writer who shares inspiring ideas and lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on November 19, 2020

The Gentle Art of Saying No for a Less Stressful Life

The Gentle Art of Saying No for a Less Stressful Life

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments—you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time. That’s why the art of saying no can be a game changer for productivity.

Requests for your time are coming in all the time—from family members, friends, children, coworkers, etc. To stay productive, minimize stress, and avoid wasting time, you have to learn the gentle art of saying no—an art that many people have problems with.

What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger, or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

However, it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here’s how to stop people pleasing and master the gentle art of saying no.

1. Value Your Time

Know your commitments and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it.

Be honest when you tell them that: “I just can’t right now. My plate is overloaded as it is.” They’ll sympathize as they likely have a lot going on as well, and they’ll respect your openness, honesty, and attention to self-care.

2. Know Your Priorities

Even if you do have some extra time (which, for many of us, is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time?

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For example, if my wife asks me to pick up the kids from school a couple of extra days a week, I’ll likely try to make time for it as my family is my highest priority. However, if a coworker asks for help on some extra projects, I know that will mean less time with my wife and kids, so I will be more likely to say no. 

However, for others, work is their priority, and helping on extra projects could mean the chance for a promotion or raise. It’s all about knowing your long-term goals and what you’ll need to say yes and no to in order to get there. 

You can learn more about how to set your priorities here.

3. Practice Saying No

Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word[1].

Sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.

4. Don’t Apologize

A common way to start out is “I’m sorry, but…” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important when you learn to say no, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm and unapologetic about guarding your time.

When you say no, realize that you have nothing to feel bad about. You have every right to ensure you have time for the things that are important to you. 

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5. Stop Being Nice

Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. However, if you erect a wall or set boundaries, they will look for easier targets.

Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.

6. Say No to Your Boss

Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss—they’re our boss, right? And if we start saying no, then we look like we can’t handle the work—at least, that’s the common reasoning[2].

In fact, it’s the opposite—explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.

7. Pre-Empting

It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting,

“Look, everyone, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects, and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”

This, of course, takes a great deal of awareness that you’ll likely only have after having worked in one place or been friends with someone for a while. However, once you get the hang of it, it can be incredibly useful.

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8. Get Back to You

Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, try saying no this way:

“After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.”

At least you gave it some consideration.

9. Maybe Later

If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say,

“This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].”

Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands. If you need to continue saying no, here are some other ways to do so[3]:

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Saying no the healthy way

    10. It’s Not You, It’s Me

    This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often, the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time.

    Simply say so—you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization—but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true, as people can sense insincerity.

    The Bottom Line

    Saying no isn’t an easy thing to do, but once you master it, you’ll find that you’re less stressed and more focused on the things that really matter to you. There’s no need to feel guilty about organizing your personal life and mental health in a way that feels good to you.

    Remember that when you learn to say no, isn’t about being mean. It’s about taking care of your time, energy, and sanity. Once you learn how to say no in a good way, people will respect your willingness to practice self-care and prioritization. 

    More Tips for a Less Stressful Life

    Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

    Reference

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