August 13, 2019

Research has created a road map for all runners – and artists, chess players, rock climbers, etc. – who seek the exhilaration you feel when completely absorbed in the pursuit of something difficult. So exactly how do you reach “the zone”?

  • Focus externally on the task – what note comes next in the composition or what slim edge to grip on the rock face – and don’t fret about what other people are thinking or whether your body is moving perfectly.
  • Confidence is essential or “expecting good things to happen.” Often confidence requires believing that a talent is learnable rather than innate. Researchers believe “positive feedback is absolutely critical.” Negative motivation does not work, including the messages we send to ourselves.
  • Embrace autonomy. Choosing when you want feedback or instruction, such as one more demonstration of a dance move, helps you perform better. The simple act of choosing is empowering.
  • Don’t analyze what you’re doing. Quiet your mind.
  • Prepare so you have less to think about. For example, most artists sketch out a drawing before formally composing it.
  • PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE to transcend both boredom and anxiety. More expertise helps you to obtain “flow.”

SOURCE: Washington Post, 4/11/19

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