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Finding Your Flow In Retirement

Finding Your Flow In Retirement

By Susan Williams

Have you ever experienced a “flow state” in your life?

If you’re not familiar with what this is, it was actually a term coined by psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi in 1975.

Wikipedia defines flow as;

…being in the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting loss in one’s sense of space and time.

Personally, I’ve experienced flow or “being in the zone” on many, many occasions – occasionally even to a point of excess.

For instance, at work I often find myself in a flow state. I become so involved in some project and get such enjoyment and pleasure from doing it that I can completely lose track of time. I eventually come out of this flow bubble only to realize that the whole day has passed without me even realizing it.

I’ve also had to learn how to control myself when I enter a flow state.

For example, reading seems to be a particular challenge for me. I realized this was an issue one day a number of years back. I had taken the day off to do some errands and get some things done around the house. After I got the kids off to school I thought I would just sit down and read a bit. I got so engrossed in the book that I ended up doing nothing else that day but reading. When the kids got home from school, they found me in the same place where they had left me, blurry eyed, book in hand and I’m not sure if I even ate that day never mind even get anything else I had planned done.

In a video created by James Taylor, he suggests that being in a flow state is actually something that helps us to experience happiness as it is something that we enjoy so much that we can completely dismiss anything else around us.

To help someone actually experience a flow state, he recommends the following elements are necessary;

  • The activity has to be something of your own choosing. It has to be something that we want to do so that we can govern our time
  • The activity that you select needs to be not too challenging so that it will burn you out but challenging enough that you won’t get bored
  • You also need to have a clear objective as to why you are doing this activity
  • You should also have an activity that allows you to get some feedback. This could either be intrinsically or extrinsically

Recently, we have shared a number of different posts on the transition to retirement and how difficult it can be for someone if they don’t have anything planned to do with these extra years that they potentially have been given.

Also Read: Transitioning to Retirement – What the Research Says

So when it comes to your retirement, what will you be doing that will allow you to get you into this flow state?

If you’re not sure, maybe consider the times you found yourself “in the zone” in the past. What were doing? Were you with others or by yourself? Were you being creative? Were you doing something that physically or mentally challenged you? What made the time just fly by as you found yourself fully immersed in the activity?

Maybe by looking back at our past times spent in a flow state, we might actually unlock our future focus.

Here is James Taylor’s video on achieving flow:

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Susan Williams is the Founder of Booming Encore. Being a Boomer herself, Susan loves to discover and share ways to live life to the fullest. She shares her experiences, observations and opinions on living life after 50 and tries to embrace Booming Encore's philosophy of making sure every day matters.