GO FIND THE FLOW

ONE OF OUR POST SPOKE ABOUT. All Olympic athletes have a clear goal in front of them, and they dream big.

Getting into a flow mindset (often described as being “in the zone”) can help athletes to consistently achieve optimal performance. Flow is defined as a mental state in which the individual transcends conscious thought and achieves a heightened state of effortless and unwavering concentration, calm and confidence. This flow state keeps pressures and distractions, both internal and external, from creeping into their minds and potentially harming their performance.

“Athletes who can achieve, maintain and regain [flow] are mentally tough,” Sports Psychology for Coaches, noting that this state is critical for achieving personal excellence.

A flow state isn’t just helpful for athletes — surgeons performing challenging, state-of-the-art procedures report experiencing intense flow comparable to pro athletes. But flow states can also occur when we’re writing, dancing, cooking or even reading a book. It helps us to become deeply involved with anything we’re doing, and according to psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Finding Flow, argues that it’s the secret to a joyful life.

“It is the full involvement of flow, rather than happiness, that makes for excellence in life,” Csikszentmihalyi writes in Psychology Today. “We can be happy experiencing the passive pleasure of a rested body, warm sunshine, or the contentment of a serene relationship, but this kind of happiness is dependent on favorable external circumstances. The happiness that follows flow is of our own making, and it leads to increasing complexity and growth in consciousness.”

Olympic athlete — after all, they were once young athletes who could only dream of competing against the best in their field. Speed skater Dan Jansen, who won Olympic gold in 1994, said, “The higher you set your goals, the more you’re going to work.”

Try this tip that Olympic swimmer and three-time medal winner Dr. Gary Hall Sr. shared with Jim Afremow, author of The Champion’s Mind:

skating sochi

 

Go with the ‘flow.’

 

 

So find your personal kickboard — whether it’s a Post-it next to your computer monitor or a reminder alert on your iPhone — and make sure that your goals stay at the forefront of your mind. And when it comes to crafting the goals themselves, the more specific and actionable they are, the better. According to Power of Habit author Charles Duhigg, people often structure their goals incorrectly when creating New Year’s resolutions.

“Very often they write out a list of goals, rather than writing a list of actions they’re going to take and thinking hard about how to structure those behaviors so that they become habits,”

 

 

 

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