Building a career you love

Kristen Swanson
2 min readOct 14, 2019

We spend a lot of our lives working. Our lives matter, and we all deserve to feel professional satisfaction.

However, obstacles to fulfillment and productivity at work are all too common. Endless meetings, constant interruptions, and bad relationships can drain you. But, work doesn’t have to be this way.

As humans, we want to build and organize and play. When we’re engaged in a task that really matters, we enter a state of flow.

Flow, coined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, is a universal experience that’s been observed in all kinds of populations doing all kinds of tasks. It’s described as “being completely absorbed in a task” and humans find this state very rewarding.

But! Building a satisfying career isn’t something that happens overnight. It starts by intentionally increasing the amount of time you spend in a flow state each day. Every day you encounter flow feeders, (which help you find flow) and flow fighters (which prevent flow). Once you can identify your own flow patterns, you can choose the appropriate Flow Coaching™ dimensions to build a career you love.

The 5 Flow Coaching™ Dimensions are:

  • Self-Graded Goaling: Creating a goal you can grade yourself
  • Uninterrupted Time: Creating long blocks of time to do work
  • Goldilocks Challenge Level: The difficulty is not too hard, not too easy, but “just right”
  • Find the Helpers: Making sure you know who your work is helping and why it matters
  • Novel Tasks: Finding tasks or skills that are new to you

Implementing these dimensions with small experiments often brings the greatest success. For example, maybe you can’t create long blocks of time to do work every day, but perhaps you could start one hour earlier (and leave one hour earlier), using the quiet, golden hour in the morning to work on a key project. Or maybe you can’t change the work assigned to you, but perhaps you could approach a familiar task in a new way, allowing you to build a new, novel skill.

Want to give it a try? Here’s a tool you can use to examine your current state, identify your flow feeders and flow fighters, and create action items to move you forward. And if you’re looking for a community of practice, we’re gathering over here.



Kristen Swanson

Organizational Development Nerd, Edcamp Co-Founder, & Learning Scientist