Escape from work, through work.

Most of us at some point will have taken a day or evening to gain some TV relaxation therapy. I’m referring to the type of evening you approach thinking it is what you need, one where you don’t plan to watch anything in particular. I’ve found at the end of these kinds of experiences to feel deflated, and excuse the dramatic phrase, but a little empty. Yet, if after finishing work, I set myself up for the evening and work through to the early hours I feel satisfied, fulfilled, as if I’ve really made a difference to my own psychological growth.

Those of you who have similar experiences on a regular basis may have found yourself teased by close friends or colleagues. In the past I’ve been dubbed a workaholic and called ‘obsessed’. But instead of workaholics, maybe we just enjoy it?

The work paradox refers to the common desire that whilst we’re at work, we’d rather be anywhere else, despite the great satisfaction and growth it can yield (Csikszentmihalyi 1997). Enjoyable, challenging work that requires high levels of our skills can provide us with some of our greatest opportunities for the optimal psychological state known as Flow.

There are a number of ways to create opportunities for flow to appear in your daily working life. For example, you can ensure the task demands and your skills to deal with them are both balanced and high. If you find yourself bored, make it harder. Try to accomplish your task with more finesse or set a new personal time limit to beat. If it’s making you too anxious, take it down a notch or ask for some assistance until your skills develop, slowly bringing the demands or refusing assistance as you improve.

By cultivating flow at work there’ll be no need to vegetate in front of the television, to quit and sail the southern seas, or have three-martini lunches (Csikszentmihalyi, 1993). Work can become escapism from work. Adam Gibson:

‘We Are The Positive Psychology People’


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