What does being ‘in flow’ mean, and how to achieve it?

Finally… the post about ‘flow’ that I have promised to a few of you for a number of weeks now…

What does being 'in flow' mean, and how to achieve it - Flows comes when skill meets the challenge   //   www.zestebiz.com

I was trying to work out why this was such a hard post to write… I think it’s because I was trying too hard to make it ‘factual’ and based on research I’d done instead of my own experience and understanding of flow.

I came across a great post this morning, which reminded me to simply write what I am passionate about instead of what I think I should be writing.

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3 Secrets to Connect With Your Creativity & Improve Productivity

This is a guest post from Kylie Saunder of kyliesaunder.com.

3 Secrets to connect with your creativity and improve productivity - Zest e-Biz

You’re taking a break from your desk and have “escaped” for a coffee at your local café.

As you sit down at the communal table you realise that you’re surrounded! You try to ignore them as you figure out whether to order the plain or fruit toast with your coffee.

But your curiosity becomes too strong. You look up from the menu and notice what’s going on around you. You feel like you’re the only one not hunched over, typing fast, listening to music.

You tell yourself:

  this coffee outing is a break away from my desk, an opportunity to get focused and relax a bit… to invite in new thoughts and creativity.

As you sip your coffee and leaf through the newspaper you’re wishing you could tap into their ‘secret formula for being creative, productive and focused’.

But here’s the thing – you’re just as creative as they are!

New concepts and ideas flow in and out of your consciousness thousands of times a day. Often at the most random moments. Except you want them to “arrive on demand” as you sit in front of the computer screen. After all, you’ve scheduled this time to write a blog post, work on a proposal or develop a business idea!

Here are 3 secrets your ‘café friends’ are doing that you can incorporate into your work day to harness your creative energy.

1. Prepare by Capturing and Organising Your Ideas Regularly

That old saying “prior preparation prevents poor performance” is your first step to harnessing your creativity. Preparing your ideas into bullet points, short paragraphs and even mind-maps will give you direction and focus.

Here are some preparatory tools to start incorporating into your daily routine.

Use technology to capture your ideas:

    • Evernote is an App that many bloggers, writers and entrepreneurs use. It helps you jot down your ideas, projects and musings and syncs them across your tablet, phone and computer. Waiting for a taxi and have a flash of inspiration? Pull out your phone, open the App and record it!
    • Voice notes. Most phones now have the ability to record your voice. And even though it may feel weird at first to listen to your own voice, it’s an invaluable tool. Walking your dog at the beach and don’t have a chance to stop and type your ideas into your phone? Open your voice memos, hit record and capture your ‘aha moment’.
    • Post-it notes. Good old fashioned technology. You’ve probably got a stack of these on you desk with to-do lists and reminders, but they’re also useful in the car, next to your bed, in your garden shed and even in the bathroom.
    • Pen and paper. Failing all else, invest in a great notepad (Moleskine have a great range) to capture your ideas and dreams. The simple act of writing your ideas in a journal can help unleash your creative mojo!

2. Create ‘Space’ by Scheduling Time Out

Scheduling regular ‘creative time’ will help you feel a sense of lightness, energy and optimism.

Creative time doesn’t mean that you have to sign up for life drawing classes or learn how to crochet! It can be as simple as getting away from your computer screen and sitting outside under a tree for 15 minutes a day.

As you walk in the garden, visit an art gallery or try out a new style of yoga, it’s giving your mind the space it needs to open up to new ideas.

3. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Your creative process is totally different to everyone else’s – so it’s time to stop comparing yourself to your ‘café friends’.

Looking at and worrying about the outward appearance of your peers or colleagues’ lives is a waste of your energy and time.

When you find yourself comparing yourself to others, it’s a “red flag” to shift your focus. Close down your social media accounts, shut down your emails, turn off your phone, and revisit secret #2.

Now you know the ‘secrets’, it’s time to create and develop your ideas. Gather your ideas together, stay focused, and only then, go and sit in front of your computer screen.

 

Leave a comment below telling us which secret you plan to commit to doing (i.e. needs the most work for you) to become more creative.

AUTHOR BIO:

Kylie SaunderKylie Saunder is an online marketer, content creator and blogs about life and creativity. She writes creative copy for her clients that engages and inspires their audience, while infusing it with their passion, knowledge and personality.

Kylie also provides a “blog rescue service” perfect for people who need direction and focus with their blog writing.

 

Check out her blog kyliesaunder.com and connect on twitter, google+ and linkedin.

 

Defining the Zest e-Biz Blog Goals

Defining the Zest e-Biz Blog Goals - Zest e-Biz

This morning I dropped my baby boy off at a friend’s place to trial a few hours of childcare per week. With mixed emotions I’m both excited about dedicated time to focus on my biz, but anxious about leaving him (only natural I guess) and wondering whether I’m biting off more than I can chew…

In preparation for the ProBlogger Training Event in a couple of weeks, we’ve been asked to define the goals for our blogs.

 

My initial thought was that my main goal for my Zest e-Biz blog was to:

  • Generate a low maintenance income

The more I thought about it though (particularly with the mixed feelings I’ve had the past week leading up to today), I’m not sure I’m ready for the pressure that comes with running an online business. Sure, I love what I blog about, I’m inspired by what others are doing with their blogs and online businesses, and I know I’d be capable. But I’ll be honest; being a Mum is so much more demanding than I ever anticipated.

The Reality of Being a Stay-at-Home-Mum with an Online Biz

The idea of working for myself was always about being able to work when I was experiencing flow rather than being forced to be productive between the hours of 9-5. Little did I realise that working around a 4 month old’s (forever changing) routine, I would again feel the pressure to perform on demand rather than letting it flow. With far more things on the do-list than there are hours in the day, what do you compromise on? Is it even worth it considering how fast children grow up?

I know personally I need something to occupy my brain rather than being a full-time Mum, but trying to manage how much of my mental energy these other things occupy is challenging – particularly when I’m now longing for those illusive hormones that used to send me straight back off to sleep after feeding during the night!

Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should

I read a great blog post the other day by Kelly Exeter called How I Got from There to Here. Kelly talks about how she she’d created a life for herself that was high on stress and busyness, but low on passion. In 2012, she started with a clean slate instead spending her time doing what she enjoyed.

She mentioned two key messages:

  Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

and

  My life only gets complicated when I make it so.

Zest e-Biz Blog Goals

In light of that, I’ve come up with the following goals in order of priority:

My Zest e-Biz blog,

  1. is a simple outlet/method for recording my thoughts and research into mindfulness in business, leadership and organisational culture.
  2. connects me with like-minded people who are interested in mindfulness in business and who are motivated to engage and inspire a following.
  3. generates a low maintenance income of $25,000/yr by Sept 2014 (3yrs after the official launch of Zest e-Biz).

Watch out for my next series of posts where I will break these goals down using the 90 Day Action Plan formula for achieving success.

I’d love to hear your goals for your blog (with a link to your website) in the comments below 🙂

What is the Zest e-Biz Mission Statement?

What is the Zest e-Biz Mission Statement? - Zest e-Biz

I’m attending the annual (sold out) ProBlogger Training Event in October along with 299 other bloggers from around Australia. I can’t wait! It’s the first real professional development commitment I’ve made for my Zest e-Biz blog and coaching business.

This both excites me, and scares me… Still on maternity leave I constantly toss between the comfort of going back to work as an employee, and biting the bullet and really making a go of Zest e-Biz!

Already I’ve connected with some amazing people in the lead up to the event who are very inspiring and motivating.

One of the preparation tasks for the event involves thinking about the goals and mission statement for your blog. That’s easy I thought…

Zest e-Biz – coaching business excellence!

But then I thought more about what I really meant by this and I didn’t know how to describe it more explicitly.

So I had a think and came up with the following:

“I blog because I want a flexible work schedule where I do what I love and work when I experience flow, not being forced to work between the hours of 9-5. I aim to educate and support others who wish to do the same and generate a low maintenance income from this.”

However I thought about this some more and realised it’s probably the general mission statement of just about any blog. Why was Zest e-Biz different? How could I make it stand out?

I remembered back to Simon Sinek’s catch phrase, which I discuss more in a previous post:

People don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it.

The mission statement above is simply what I wanted to do, but didn’t explain the ‘why’.

So I enlisted the services of Nailah Blades from Polka Dot Coaching, courtesy of a prize I’d won through an activate28 photo challenge. Nailah skillfully helped me define a mission statement based on three things:

  1. Action words/verbs that I identified most with
  2. My core values
  3. Who/what I want to help

And this is what we came up with…

Coaching mindfulness in business, to connect and encourage business leaders who wish to inspire a following.

Quite different to my first attempt! This one really resonated with me, so now I feel I’m on the right track. The more we talked, the more I remembered my passion for inspiring leadership and engaging a following. My words started to dance off my tongue as my speech sped up. I felt my face come alive with emotive expression as I thought of and described leaders who have inspired me, and conversely those who have left me frustrated and disenchanted.

I think defining your mission statement is an iterative process, but for now I’m loving the way the second one above captures the essence of Zest e-Biz.

Specifying my goals is going to have to be the subject of a future blog after the time and effort it’s taken just to come up with my mission statement!

I’d love to hear what your mission statement is for your blog or business venture in a comment below. Check out the bottom of the Zest e-Biz Resources & Links page for more examples of mission statements from companies I find inspiring!

A Celebration of My Favourite Quote!

Steve Jobs Quote 2005 - Zest e-Biz Celebration of My Favourite Quote

As I am only a couple of weeks away from commencing maternity leave ready for the birth of my first child, now seems like an appropriate time for a bit of reflection…

Two Babies Conceived

September 2011 marked the official launch of Zest eBiz. Roughly the same time (although unknown to me at the time) my baby was conceived.

Over the months that have passed I’ve watched both of my babies grow in awe; from initial thoughts about starting a business, or starting a family, to making the commitment to go for it and then every stage of development since then.

Making the decision to start a family was almost easier for me than the decision to start a business. In both cases I had the full support of my partner, but I guess I felt like we were more of a team when it came to starting a family.

Starting a business on the other hand came with a lot more fear and anxiety for me. What should my business look like? How will I get started? Could I manage it out of business hours as well as working full-time? What would people think about me going into business, or my business itself?

It took one defining moment last year to help me realise that I did really want my own business…

The Decision to Jump

Steve Jobs had passed away and the internet was flooded with his inspirational words of wisdom. The quote at the top of this post really spoke to me. So much so, that I turn to it every time I need strength, or that little bit of encouragement.

Soon after reading this quote I was working through a difficult decision with my Life Coach. Being the amazing professional that she is, she always listens to me and in traditional coaching style asks the right questions to get me to explore the answers I’m searching for myself. However this day she’d obviously had enough and simply said to me:

“I feel like I’m standing on at the top of a cliff with you and you keep asking me, ‘should I jump?’”

This hit home for me. I love all things related to adrenalin sports (like bungy jumping backwards in the photo above), so that metaphor was like turning a light on inside my head.

That week I had one of my proudest moments at work. I defended the decision I’d made, to one of the senior managers on site, not to commence longer hours that the majority of other engineers were about to commence due to the nature of the project we worked on. His question as to whether I was worried about how this would be perceived by others in the company would have once affected me and caused me to question my judgement. However this day it was like adding fuel to the fire! I confidently replied along the lines of “no, I’ve worried about what other people think for too long”. I justified my reasons for not wanting to change my working arrangement with assurance knowing that I believed, finally, 100% in something I wanted to do and I was not going to be swayed this time.

Grateful for Healthy Growth

From that day forward Zest eBiz has grown into what it is today. Not a huge company, but rather the fruit of following my passion. I’ve been amazed at the wins (small and big) I’ve had along the way and the interesting and inspirational people I’ve met. But most importantly, I’m amazed at the feeling I get every time I coach a client. It’s second to none. I have to pinch myself to remind me that I’m getting paid to do what I love!

I hope this has inspired you to find the courage to follow your heart and intuition. Take 10 mins to think about that one hurdle standing between you and what you desire…

Now go and confront it head on knowing that your heart and intuition “somehow already know what you truly want to become”!

Finding Flow – Guest Blogging

Finding flow - guest blogging - Zest e-BizMy first guest blog ever is being published TODAY at the Älska Publishing blog

I wrote an article called Finding Flow, Finding Peace, which is about a journey I’m taking to identify activities in my life that lead to a feeling of happiness and contentment.

What is Flow?

According to Csikszentmihalyi, Flow is defined as

“The state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it”

What I’ve Found So Far

Having just had one week back in New Zealand at home visiting friends and family, I noticed a number of unusual “Flow” experiences. Contrary to my original belief that these types of experiences mainly occur when you are challenged intellectually, I noticed that I was experiencing flow in everyday activities. Just catching up with friends, indulging in family banter, and brainstorming ideas for my sister’s wedding next year all resulted in “Flow”.

Perhaps this was because the intrinsic motivation and my perceived security in these situations were higher than in situations at work, or with friends and interactions in the community where I currently live?

Benefits of Guest Blogging

As I mentioned this will be my first guest blog. Guest blogging can be a powerful way to increase awareness about the work you do based on the size of the database and readership of the website you are blogging for.

As always you need to ensure your websites are aligned. I’m very grateful that Sarah Prout & Sean Patrick Simpson have chosen to post my blog post, as www.zestebiz.com is a result of the Adventures in Manifesting eCourse.

Have you ever guest blogged? I’d love to hear from anyone who has had their blogs published as guest blogs and what they gained from the experience.

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