“Being in the zone” is a great state of the mind where you perceive everything is achievable, therefore becoming very resourceful, inventive and powerful.
You are in full command of what you are doing. Do it naturally to get the best results.
It is essentially the state of absolute absorption in an activity where you get entirely immersed in a mood of revitalized focus, extreme involvement, and gratification as you undertake the activity.
According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi - a renowned a Hungarian psychologist- “being in the zone” is a “flow” — a situation of intense focus/concentration and tranquil immersion.
In his exact words, “There’s this focus that, once it becomes intense, leads to a sense of ecstasy, a sense of clarity: you know exactly what you want to do from one moment to the other... Sense of time disappears. You forget yourself. You feel part of something larger.”
Have ever heard of a "runner's high"? That's princely what we're talking about. Getting so immersed in something that you forget everything else. Your feet no longer hurt. Your breathing stabilizes. The scenery begins to brighten and you can go for hours.
How do I get there?
Below are simple steps detailing how you can achieve "flow."
Have a clear understanding of yourself and the task at hand
There should be a strike of balance between your skills and the challenge that comes with the task. Self-assessment as well as task assessment will therefore be imperative.
If the challenge is high and your skills level is high you definitely will be in the zone soon.
If the challenge is high and your skills level is low, this will lead to anxiety and frustration.
A low challenge when you are highly skilled will result in monotony and disengagement while low skills coupled with low challenge will lead to apathy.
Clear understanding of your skills and task will therefore dictate whether you need to improve your skills or to take a bigger task with higher challenges.
Identifying what you are passionate about
Be it in your career, sports, or any task you plan to undertake, you will need to be in the field you enjoy.
This will contribute momentously in being in the zone.
Is your goal to tone your body? Do you enjoy seeing the sweat running down your body after a workout? Imagine the boost in energy you would get when completing an activity that creates that feeling.
A talented footballer will hardly be in the zone while playing basketball simply because he is in the sport that he may not be passionate about.
Similarly, it will be quite irrational to assign an accountant the duties of an engineer and wait for him to be in the zone.
Full commitment and robust focus
Your level of commitment to the task will speed up stepping into the zone.
Determination will help you to maintain focus and overcome any disruptions that come your way. You gain full command of the activity, delivering the best results effortlessly.
This will require proper planning and sticking to the plan to avoid distractions. As the old adage goes, failing to plan is planning to fail.
How do I know I am there?
You can tell you are in the zone when:
Your cognitive vision is on another level - you can clearly and accurately visualize what will happen in advance
You are hardly distracted – external factors do not interrupt your purpose and the outside world is almost nonexistent. Your ability to concentrate on the task is matchless. With your headphones on and your eyes locked on, nothing can get through until the task is complete.
You are highly in control of what you are doing - you effortlessly achieve your goals. Though the task is challenging, you are able to achieve your preset goals.
Benefits of being in the zone
There are inexhaustible benefits of being in the zone, some of which include:
Due to the incredible mastery of the task and being in full control, your performance is preeminent. The hyperactivity of your cognitive functions increases you resourcefulness.
This results to your productivity being at its highest level.
It builds your self confidence
There is nothing as satisfying as achieving your goal, especially when it is a challenging one. This greatly builds your self-confidence.
According to Csikszentmihalyi, people who can tap into the zone are happier and more satisfied accomplishing tasks than their counterparts,
Realization and utilization of untapped potential
Once you are in the flow you perform much better due to exploitation of the potential that otherwise would be lying idle within you.
It has been discovered that during this flow state your body releases into the nervous system neurochemicals; these are responsible for creativity, quick grasping and mastery of ideas, memory preservation and critical thinking.
I treasure writing and as I write this I am in the zone, I can go on and on and on.
To conclude, being in the zone is the best feeling you can ever experience in your career, fitness, sex life, religious life, you name it. It is a phenomenon we should all strive to operate in; to quote Laurence Shahlaei “Your love for what you do and willingness to push yourself where others aren't prepared to go is what will make you great.”
It should however not be confused with hyper-focus, where the latter is an intense form of mental concentration where one is incapable of switching tasks.
Hyper-focus at times can lead to distraction from the main task, while being in the zone eludes distraction.