I just finished reading Dan Pink’s Drive, in which Pink explains why traditional carrot-and-stick motivators are out-dated and need to be replaced by the intrinsic motivators of Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. (For the abbreviated version of the book, watch Pink’s TED talk, which I’ve mentioned before).
One thing I learned was the importance of experiencing “flow” in your work. If you’ve ever heard of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s theory of flow, it’s probably because you had no idea how to pronounce his name, and because his theory probably described the best parts of your day or week. One of the keys to a person’s overall enjoyment of life, flow describes what you feel when you are fully immersed in an activity that you enjoy, are skilled in, challenged by, and is helping someone else. It’s that moment when you’re “in the zone”, time slips by and you lose yourself in the task at hand.
When do you experience moments of flow? In The Identity Project, Patrick Dodson points to these moments of flow at key indicators to look for as you discover and develop what you were born to do.
Interestingly, Csikszentmihalyi found that people are more likely to reach a state of flow at work than in leisure. In his book, Pink goes on to talk about the importance of creating work environments that encourage moments of flow, helping increase intrinsic motivation to do great work.
What can you do have more moments of flow this year?
Once we realize that the boundaries between work and play are artificial, we can take matters in hand and begin the difficult task of making life more livable. – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Despite a less-than-captivating delivery, watch this super-insightful talk as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi himself speak on the topic of flow below (or here).