The idea of flow is appealing, but putting it into practice can be tough.
So imagine my surprise when I found inspiration in a very unlikely place…a parenting book called No-Drama Discipline. (Stay with me, even if you don’t have kids.)
Imagine a drawing of a river. One of the banks is labeled rigidity and the other chaos, representing two extremes that aren’t ideal. But in the middle is a current that moves naturally down the river, approaching each bank but never getting stuck there.
This illustration has, as the authors intended, helped me understand how my child’s brain works, so I can help him develop the skills he needs to stay in the current rather than getting mired on either bank.
But it has also helped me think deeply about how flow works.
Flow is not found in rigidity, where everything is planned and nothing is left to chance, nor is it found in chaos, where the opposite is true. It’s found in between. And it looks different for each of us.
That might feel scary, but it’s actually a beautiful opportunity to tap into the deep wisdom we each hold about ourselves by creating (what else?) a map.
In my work, I call this a Clarity Map. (I help creatives identify, clarify, and use the inherent patterns and connections among all their ideas and knowledge, creating a strong foundation for the work they do.)
But I think a Clarity Map can create a strong foundation for our life as well. This is a map that helps us move forward, yes, but also helps us embrace what the world brings our way. When opportunities and challenges arise, our map can help us remember what is true for us and make decisions that keep us in the flow.
Here’s how to create your own.
Try drawing a river and then filling in what represents chaos, rigidity, and flow for you. If you get stuck, consider how your ideas would show up on other parts of your map. If over-scheduling feels rigid to you, what is the version of scheduling that feels like chaos? Like flow?
Don’t overthink this. Simply start to bring awareness to what’s true for you. Over time, more will become clear, and you can fill in new ideas then. Part of the beauty here is that your Map will change over time as you do.
Create a single home for ideas that feel meaningful for you. This includes others’ ideas (pulled from Instagram, emails, books, and more); your own mantras (like I flow when I am in the current, not when I am in rigidity or chaos); and things you know to be true about yourself (like I need at least one night at home alone each week to recharge).
Drifting out of the current happens to all of us. But if you can spend a little time now preparing for the inevitable, you’ll be much better off when it happens.
Write down some practices that help you get back on track when you drift from flow.
Here are some simple things that work for me:
Intentional writing (recording what I’m feeling and thinking). Moving my body (even stretching helps). Explaining why I feel stuck to someone else (usually brings immediate clarity). Meditating or resting for a few minutes (giving my mind a break). Looking at something I find inspiring off-screen (like a vision board, visual books, my child’s drawings). Reviewing my river drawing and reminders!
When you feel off course, revisit this section of your Clarity Map. Try some of your ideas to see if they help get you back in the flow!
Save your Clarity Map where you can easily access it. Then be sure to use it!
Try setting regular reminders to review your Clarity Map, so the ideas stay fresh in your mind, and you can lean on them when you need support. These can be on your calendar, on your phone, or in your physical space. (They didn’t ask me to say this, but the LumenKind Mindful Marks are a truly beautiful way to remind yourself of this collected wisdom.)
Your Clarity Map can be a beautiful place for exploring and making use of truths about yourself, helping you return to a place of flow again and again.
If you have questions about creating and using your Clarity Map, please reach out! I love helping people create this kind of supportive resource in their lives.
Hey! I’m Erica. I help creatives clarify their ideas, so they can get their inherent wisdom and knowledge out of their heads and into the world.
I also help them cultivate a more intimate relationship with themselves and their work, so they can show up as exactly who they are in work and in the world.
I’m originally from Virginia, but these days I live in Birmingham, AL. I have a three-year-old, Nathan, who keeps me on my toes (and three silly kitties who do the same). It’s true what they say: children do make you see the world in a whole new way.
I’m a tea drinker (mostly decaf), I love reading fiction (please share your favorites), I walk the line between introvert and extrovert, and I’m always interested in a conversation about personality types, neuroplasticity, and pretty much anything you find fascinating.