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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

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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