All they do is try to force you to get more done by doing stuff you’d prefer not to be doing.
When I used to work a 9–5 finance job, I’d try to find flow. It was rare. I’d have to juice up on three coffees to have a chance. Then my phone would ring with my boss making demands. Flow died straight away.
What was strange was that before and after work, I’d write online. I had no problem finding flow. It was effortless. And after a while it became automatic. I couldn’t understand why.
Then I saw a tweet that changed everything.
The biggest problem normal people have with flow states
I’ve been writing about flow for 5 years.
Flow is when 8 hours feels like 2. It’s because flow creates extreme focus. This powerful state happens when you start to work without distractions and block out background noise with white noise or movie soundtracks.
The top 1% in the world — athletes, writers, movie directors, entrepreneurs — all use flow, even if they don’t realize it.
My two favorite books on the topic are “Flow” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and “Stealing Fire” by Steven Kotler. Much of the information is good but it always feels like there’s something missing.
I love to ask my readers questions. When I asked them about flow the biggest problem they had was this:
“I can’t get into flow.”
Because I had no problem getting into flow with writing, I couldn’t understand it. You just sit down and flow turns on, doesn’t it?
That’s not the case. All the books and studies of flow have left out a crucial detail I discovered by accident.
The missing ingredient of powerful flow states that last all day
The tweet that changed everything (which only got 5 comments) was this one from Zach Pogrob:
At the start, it’s always work. Getting into flow is rare. But eventually, flow is instant, and easy to enter. And that’s when obsession really begins.
Perhaps you didn’t catch the big insight…
Flow states start when obsession begins.
But this isn’t what Zach said. He’s saying you need to master flow states first and that’ll trigger your obsession. I disagree. When you’re obsessed with what you do it’s easy to enter flow.
When I sit down to write I don’t need Tony Robbins screaming at me to do more reps or write harder. I don’t need a vision board, motivation, or Elon Musk hustle culture quotes.
Flow is automatic.
No matter how hard you try to get into flow and love what you do, it isn’t enough. Being ‘interested’ or ‘passionate’ is lukewarm. It doesn’t light a fire under you and get you going.
So many jobs suck — not because of the company or the boss — but because flow states are non-existent. When there’s no flow, boredom takes over.
I used to be able to stay in a flow state for a few hours. Now I can stay in a flow state all day. I’m not Superman or some guru. I’ve just found my obsession and I chase it to the ends of the earth.
A few months ago I turned my Sub$tack paid. Within roughly 6 weeks it became a bestseller. Not because I can write well, but because it’s based on my obsession. It’s effortless and that feeling rubs off on the readers.
When people see and feel your flow, they want to unconsciously be around it. That can obviously be good for your income.
Stop wasting time with lukewarm pursuits. Figure out what your obsession is. What can you NOT do? What can you not stop thinking about?
My drug of choice is focus. My favorite high is flow state. — Tej Dosa
Motivation ends so flow is the only way to keep going
Traditional to-do list-type productivity doesn’t last.
It relies on motivation to keep going. You need goals, forced habits, fake passion, and coaches to keep you on track.
Flow states automate motivation. I sit down to get into a flow state. Once I’m in it I don’t need motivation or external forces. It’s just me versus the work. Or…
YOU versus YOU
There’s something cool about that. No competition. No marketplace. No boring capitalist goal. Just a competition against yourself to be a little better each day. The pursuit of flow often doesn’t feel too different.
It’s only when you look back on a year of being in a flow state every day, that you see a massive transformation.
Flow has elevated my growth so much that when I read something I wrote a year ago, I can no longer relate to it.
The learning and research are developing too fast because of flow.
Stop trying to do hard things.
Start following your obsession.
Then get into a flow state every day and chase it for the next 10 years. It’s almost impossible not to join the top 1% if you do this.