Flow is an optimal state of consciousness, in which we perform our best and have the most fun. Here are 4 simple tips that can be added to every aspect of our life, from making breakfast, working on a project, to shredding on a snowboard.
- Develop single minded concentration. If we are distracted during any task it will be impossible find flow. Building the strength of attention and focus is how we combat distraction. One method to do this is by engaging in activities that require deep awareness, such as meditation, Yoga, Tai Chi, rock climbing or reading books. In meditation you are training the mind to achieve a single pointed focus. The more we can do this, the more we will find flow.
- Challenge yourself, but not too much. The skill to challenge ratio is a key ingredient to achieving flow. The difficulty of your task has to be just right. If it is too easy, you will get bored. If the task is too difficult, you will get frustrated. Either way, you won't find flow. There has to be exactly the right ratio of challenge to skill so be aware of making things harder or easier to maximise the chance to flow.
- Create clear goals to achieve. Goals establish a benchmark to measure progress and provide a sense of achievement. If you know the direction you are headed, and have a clear idea of your objective you massively increase the opportunity for flow.
- Create a feedback loop. Flow becomes self-perpetuating when our brain receives the message that we are on the right track. In action, this means you either complete the task or you don’t, you catch the wave or you don’t, either you land the jump or your stack it.
How to use these Flow-tips to improve our surfing or snowboarding
Looking at these 4 basic ingredients for flow is empowering, as we can see how to tweak the way we do things to optimise conditions for flow. This is how we could apply these factors to having a surf:
- Concentration: Notice how the ones getting all the waves are those focused on the incoming sets, eyes scanning the horizon, working out where best to sit. Concentrate on your environment, don't just follow the crowd- work out the conditions yourself and you will get more waves. Visualise what you want to achieve.
- Challenge: Choose the right spot and equipment that will provide the appropriate challenge for your skills. If beach A is breaking too fast and steep for your skills, you will get frustrated and will not find flow. However, if you go to the kiddies corner and ride mush, you will fall off the other end of the flow spectrum and get bored quickly. If riding the massive board has become too easy go smaller. Constantly be aware of keeping the challenge just on the edge of your skill level. The sweet spot is that area just outside your comfort zone- if you push yourself constantly into that fertile zone, you will find yourself in deep flow... and your performance will rocket.
- Goals: Decide before your surf what you want to work on. Create a clear goal. If you decide you want to achieve a deeper duck dive or a smoother bottom turn focus on that for the entire surf and analyse afterwards how you performed.
- Feedback: The great thing about surfing and any sport, is that it automatically creates the feedback loop. If you nailed the bottom turn, you will know it as it will feel amazing… and you will want more!
Have a think about how you can apply these 4 tips into your daily life and into your hobbies to find more flow and achieve higher performance. We run adventure retreats focused on guiding you to deeper awareness, more flow and higher performance. Join us in Niseko, Japan to Flow in the Snow or in the Maldives for a surf/freedive adventure.
See ya in the water!