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How Flow (The Cycle of High Performance) Works in Your Day to Day Life

Flow like many things follows a cycle. It’s impossible to live your entire life in a flow state so it’s important to realise that you will spend time in each of the four parts of the cycle to ensure that when it counts you can enter flow. The below four-part cycle illustrates what the cycle is.

For Background information on Flow Cycles You can find it at my article here

The first part of the cycle is struggle.

This is where you are pushing your comfort zone and are having to use all your skills to complete a task. If you think of it like surfing. When you first start learning to surf, small waves seem large and waves as tall as you seem impossible.

But as you push your limits, as you struggle eventually you learn to surf those waves that are as tall as you and you start looking for bigger waves.

That point, where you are no longer struggling to perform the task, as you hop onto that wave that you once thought impossible, that is release.

It is at that point of release that you enter flow. Everything fades away; there is just you and the task at hand. You are in the zone. Your problem-solving ability goes through the roof as the gamma cycle in your brain fires and it is here that you are at your highest performance.

Once your flow state passes it is time for recovery and review.

Everyone needs a recovery cycle. If you don’t stop for recovery you won’t be able to enter flow again until you do take recovery. Think of it like this: If you surfed all day and got into flow, then kept surfing past the point of where you could access flow. Then decided to keep surfing bigger and bigger waves without stopping for a recovery and review period you would find that it would be impossible to get into that flow state and eventually you would have an accident that caused you harm.

Conversely, if you stopped, took a recovery time and reviewed your performance you would find that your mind was ready to enter flow the next time you needed it.

The Review is every bit as important as recovery. The worlds best sports teams spend many, many hours in review and they review everything down to the smallest detail so that they can improve their performance and this is definitely something you should do yourself.

The Four Cycles of Flow

The four cycles of flow are different to the flow guide. This is because the four cycles of flow are about how you enter into flow not what happens as you move into, through and out of flow.

It is the essential steps to providing you with flow states when you need them. This ensures you can be in flow at critical timings as you can never be in flow all the time.

1.     Prepare

You must be prepared for the task at hand. If you are unprepared you will never experience flow in that task. This is because rather than focusing on doing the task you will be preparing for the task while you are doing it which removes your ability to concentrate on one task.

2.     Perform

This is when you are in flow. Performing the task at hand you become immersed in it and as you gain immediate feedback from your environment you continue to work in this flow state.

3.     Recover

Everyone needs to recover. Recovery is about taking a break, getting rest, getting your mind off the task you have been working on and doing something completely different. If you don’t take the time to recover you will not be able to enter a flow state very easily if at all and your day to day performance will take a dive.

4.     Review

It is at this point that you review your performance. I like to review my own personal performance each week to see where I can improve, what I could do better. I also cover off what I achieved or did not achieve for the week so I can set my objectives for the following week.

High-performance sports teams spend hundreds of hours in review after an eventwhere they analyse every small detail to see what they can improve upon. It’s not just about looking at what mistakes happened during the week or game. It’s about analysing what the root cause of that mistake was.

For example, you may see someone drop the ball in a rugby match. That is the mistake but the root cause might be a fault in how they hold or receive the ball which might be the result of a muscle group that is too tight due to an exercise that is causing the player to overcompensate. So when you review, make sure you review everything.


By understanding how flow cycles work you can put yourself into situations that allow you to activate them at the times you need them most.

Pay attention to the Four Cycles of Flow:

  1. Prepare
  2. Perform
  3. Recover
  4. Review

Without this cycle, you have no hope of increasing your own performance in anything so take the time to work out how to work the four cycles of flow into your activities.

Finished. DFTBA

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