What You Need To Know About “Getting In The Flow”

When athletes play well, they often state later that they were “in a zone.” They’re describing a state of focused attention when their abilities naturally flowed out of them and they performed at their peak.

The zone is an almost Zen-like meditative state in which distraction simply has no place in your mind. Instead, you’re mentally free to execute skills as you’ve been trained, and you’re focusing only on the task at hand.

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Renowned psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls this state of focused attention “flow.” For decades he studied people who experienced such periods of peak performance in all sorts of situations, and he found that these occurrences share common characteristics.

When you’re in “the zone” or the state of “flow”:

All of your attention is focused either on the skill being performed or input from your senses relevant to the skill.

You’re not evaluating your performance while you’re executing the skill.

You’re not concerned with others expectations during your performance.

You’re not consciously aware of your awareness at the time.

You are in control of your actions and reactions, despite feeling an almost altered state of consciousness.

You feel invigorated and exhilarated.

When talking about a skill or performance, this can mean anything: a concert, an interview, a presentation, a test, meeting someone new, and so on.