Many people feel out of sync at work, either constantly rushed, feeling behind or feeling bored and stagnant. So, if you are wondering how can you find your flow at work, you are not alone. Based on my quest for career clarity and my clients’ successes I feel strongly that career fulfillment is intricately connected with embracing your innate pace at work and at play.
In my early childhood I often received the message that I was being too slow. When we had to read a paragraph at school, I had barely finished reading the first sentence, when the teacher asked me to paraphrase what I had just read. I felt embarrassed and ashamed. This and many similar experiences led me to believe that there was something wrong with me.
During my final years in high school I had quite a different experience, often I felt bored as I had already grasped the concepts that the teacher was explaining. My high-school binders were covered with drawings and doodles. A strategy that helped me sit through boring classes that seemed to drag on forever.
Just like me, you probably have had many experiences of feeling too slow or too fast. Take a moment to recall a few of your own memories of feeling rushed and memories of feeling bored. Since you want to find your flow at work, it’s important to also pay attention to what it feels like when you are out of sync, feeling either rushed or bored and how that impacts your productivity and effectiveness.
Throughout my childhood, there were also times when I felt completely in sync with my own rhythm. Whenever I was painting at kindergarten for example, the brush just naturally followed my lead. I didn’t feel rushed or bored, I was deeply engrossed in the experience of my colourful creations.
At the playground, my favourite activity was going for a swing ride. I loved feeling the wind in my hair and the sensation of flying into the air, higher and higher, seeing the world around me dip and rise. Going for swing rides is to this day one of my favourite things to do and it always gets me in touch with my true rhythm.
Just like me, you probably also have had experiences of feeling completely in sync with your natural pace. Take a moment to recall a few of your own memories of enjoying your own rhythm. As you recall these memories, notice how it feels in your body to be in flow. You may wonder how these playful experiences may help find your flow at work?
What, if you could create a career for yourself where you rarely felt rushed or bored? What if you could create a career for yourself, where you could work with your own natural pace most of the time? I believe that you can create a career that supports your unique rhythm, so that you can truly thrive.
Find Your Flow at Work, Step One: Make Peace with Your Natural Pace
The first step is finding peace with your natural pace. Just like me, you have probably judged yourself many times for your innate rhythm. “Why can’t I get this done faster? I am way too slow!” “Why can’t I be patient? I am so arrogant!” How do you talk to yourself, when you are feeling rushed or bored? Write down the phrases that come to mind first, they are your judgements.
It’s time to let go of your own judgements and ways in which you compare yourself with others. Each time you hear an oh so familiar judgemental phrase going through your mind, make it a practice to ask yourself: “What’s my natural way of doing this? How can I do this in my true rhythm?” Pause and listen to your own answer. Most importantly, follow your own guidance.
Find Your Flow at Work, Step Two: Notice When You Feel in Sync
The second step is to pay attention to the things that naturally attract you.
What animals do you feel drawn to? Observing your favourite animals and spending time with them, will teach you a lot about your own rhythm. Take a moment to jot down your thoughts.
What kind of sports do you love? Pay attention to the speed and rhythm of your favourite sports. What can you learn about your own rhythm when watching or participating in this sport? Write down your thoughts and feelings.
What’s your favourite mode of transportation? How do you most enjoy moving through the landscape? Once again this can teach you a lot about your innate rhythm. Capture your favourite ways to travel now.
What did you learn about your preferred pace? Describe your natural rhythm in your own words.
Find Your Flow at Work, Step Three: Make Wise Career Choices
While awareness of your natural rhythm is an important element that will help you find your flow at work, it is even more important to make choices on your career path that align with your innate pace.
Pat (not her real name), one of my career coaching clients is taking her time developing her own business of teaching yoga and meditation, while still working in her job part-time. Letting her business grow slowly and organically and taking time for her own yoga and meditation practice helps Pat feel in sync with her innate rhythm.
Dan (not his real name), another career coaching client finds himself on the other end of the spectrum, when it comes to pace. He thrives in fast pace environments and gets a kick our of accomplishing lots of things in a short period of time.
Dan has learned that the career that is right for him needs to be stimulating, demanding and fast pace. Quiet times zap Dan’s energy just as much as frenzy does for Pat.
Neither of these preferences is good or bad. However, it is crucial to listen to your own natural rhythm, so that you can be most effective, energized and happy.
Follow Lao Tzu’s wisdom: “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”
I encourage you to apply all the insights you’ve just gained about your own natural rhythm. Make choices on your career path that align well with your natural pace. You’ll be well on your way to find your flow at work.
Julia James is a certified life coach and award-winning author of the book, The Mini-Retreat Solution. With over ten years experience coaching people through positive career transformations, Julia is passionate about helping people connect with their true calling.