When You Lose Yourself
There’s a joyful side to losing yourself and there’s a corrosive side.
Achievement corrodes identity when you lose yourself to work. You dilute yourself into a title; self-worth is measured in perks and paychecks.
10 signs you’ve lost yourself to work:
- Relationships take a backseat. You’ve got work to do.
- Contributing to non-work-related achievements don’t exist.
- Hobbies? What’s that?
- You can’t shut down – even after you turn off the light at night.
- You constantly push yourself. Caffeine and adrenaline keep you going.
- Motivation is declining. Frustration is increasing.
- Health issues are emerging. Weight fluctuates. Stress is high. Can’t sleep.
- Self-care routines flew out the window. There’s no time to work out.
- Success feels empty.
- Family suffers.
But there’s joy when you lose yourself.
How to find yourself when you lose yourself:
Your best self emerges when you lose yourself.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s research on flow explains the joy of losing yourself. People experience flow when they lose themselves, when they become absorbed in a challenging activity that’s achievable.
Flow states occur during work, hobbies, creative activities, physical activities, learning, video games, and more.
“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times . . . The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile” Csikszentmihalyi
Flow is the bliss of losing yourself.
Notice when you lose yourself. People in the state of flow don’t notice time or their feelings. They’re lost. What are you doing when that happens? Think back on times when you experienced flow.
- What do you learn about yourself when you’re lost?
- How might flow define you?
- What do past flow experiences teach you about your potential?
- What personal values are you expressing when in flow?
How do leaders lose themselves to work? (Think of the negative side.)
What do you learn about yourself when you reflect on past flow states?
Leadership Identity – Self-Perception Determines How You Lead (90 second read.)
The First Step Toward Self-Knowledge is Realizing You Don’t Have It
4 Tools for Self-Reflection Every Leader Needs
And yet another timely post. Thank you Dan!
Thank you BMO.
Experiencing flow by losing yourself and becoming absorbed in a challenging activity that’s achievable reminds me of the day in the life of a surfer harmonizing with the power and flow of ocean swells.
Yes. When we lose ourselves, we don’t notice that we’re trying.
The difference is whether you are focused on the outcome or the output. If you invested in the process and its ultimate result, you are more likely to reach flow. If you only care about the measurable product, then you probably won’t reach flow.
Thanks Jennifer. It seems when we focus on results we live in the future. We anticipate results. Living in the future creates worry and stress. Hard to be in flow when you feel stressed.
I don’t think in a flow state you are “lost.” For me it’s the opposite. I’m present, focused, and totally concentrating on the current challenge.
The negative side of losing yourself to work is when work becomes an escape from the problems you should be dealing with.
Flow disappears when we become aware of it. That’s what I mean by losing yourself.
The same goes for feelings. We don’t feel flow. We don’t feel anything.
I’m glad you jumped in today. So helpful.
Enjoyed this one!
Thank you, Linda.
Another interesting topic.
Flow – Being so “in the moment” that nothing else seems to exist and not having a clue where the time went.
Combine this with the previous post about motivation.
Could we have more success to motivate people if we knew what can get them into a Flow, and find a way to put that into their work?
Not sure on this one. Seems plausible, yet extremely challenging as I’m not sure of the ingredients I need to experience Flow. It kind of just happens. I’ll have to pay attention to what can trigger it.
Great thought, Nik. The research indicates a few things that are important.
1. We have to choose the goal/activity. Think of hobbies. But it could include work goals.
2. The goal or activity needs to challenge us. It should require concentration. Things that are easy lean toward boredom.
3. The goal needs to be achievable, even though it is challenging. We don’t enjoy predictable failure.
Perhaps one way to help people enter flow is to explain it and involve them in setting goals.