The only time you have is right now
The past is but a memory and the future is only a hope.
Part of getting into a flow state is putting yourself into the present moment and detaching yourself from the past and the future.
These Will Help You Understand this Episode Better
- Ep. 26: Demystifying a Flow State
- Ep. 28: Practicing for Peak Performance Part 1
- Ep. 29: Practicing for Peak Performance Part 2
Our Focus on the Future is Hurting Us
So many of us are focused on what we need to do in the future instead of just stopping and focusing on whatever is in front of us in the present moment and then executing on that.
We have to find a motivator to stop us from focusing on the potential future gain and then put our energy into the present moment. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a big pay-off for doing that? We certainly don't seem to think there is or we'd be doing it.
Most of us are focused on learning how to do something better than taking the action to actually do it better.
"We tend to exist in a distracted presence where forces on the periphery are magnified and those immediately before us are ignored." - Douglas Rushkoff
The Importance of Clear Goals
Clear goals give you a purpose and more detail to help you narrow your focus. But not only does it give you purpose, when you’re very clear and very specific with your goals, you tend to lose the distractions around you. You become very connected to yourself emotionally and that’s one of the biggest keys to getting into the present moment and achieving a flow state.
Here’s an example of what that’s like. Watch this video but not just casually. I want you to notice there are some people with black shirts and some people with white shirts. As they’re bouncing a basketball around, I want you to count how many times the people in WHITE shirts pass the ball. Don’t get distracted by the black shirts passing their ball, just the white shirts. Let’s see if you can get the number right:
This test really helps you understand what it’s like to narrow your focus with a very clear set of goals. When and if you did that you’ll likely have missed the surprise in that video. Did you see it?
Now that you understand the importance of having very clear goals to help you stay focused on the present moment, be sure you don’t put off the reward for your goals too far into the future. Set very specific small goals with immediate rewards for achieving them.
The Power of Immediate Feedback
To keep you in the present moment you need to have immediate feedback loops. We see how the lack of immediate feedback will have an adverse effect on someone’s skill sets when they’re in a profession that doesn’t offer it. Some examples are psychologists and general practitioners. It takes quite some time before you begin to get feedback on actions you’ve taken with a client.
Take the time to look at your work and ask how you can get the most immediate feedback on the actions you’re taking in this present moment. Don’t wait for the bigger picture feedback because that won’t help you stay present focused.
The line between cause and effect must be as short as possible. You may have to narrow down to several smaller factors in order to do this.
Stop Focusing on the Ultimate Desired Results
One of the reasons we often fail to achieve our goals is because we’re looking too far into the future, thinking about the ultimate goal we’re trying to achieve. Instead, focus on the current task and make the completion of that task your most pressing goal.
Too often we will set out to climb a mountain and always measure our distance from the top and then feel like we’re not making progress. When we look off into the distance at someone else climbing another hill we’ll think it must be easier because we can better see their progress and very little of their challenges.
This misperception of other’s effort is what causes us to give up on our current hill, climb down from it and then begin the climb up the next hill. It’s not until we get about halfway up that we begin to feel fatigued and discouraged because we don’t see the results we thought we’d get by this point.
Focus on a very clear and specific goal with your current task. Don’t get too focused on the greater, more distant goal. This is what will keep you in the present moment, help you enter a flow state where time disappears, and energize you to persevere. Focus on the present moment.