Is it Flow or a Rabbit Hole?

Often, “Finding Flow” is touted to be the holy grail of finding life happiness.  It’s claimed that when you engage in your passion or utilize your signature strengths, you find a sense of flow – you lose track of time and get into the “zone”. It’s a highly positive feeling and one I’ve been wondering if I will find post-career.  [Yes, I found it often while working.]

As I’ve been working on utilizing my signature strength of creativity (which I’ve determined is more about synthesizing information and finding frameworks, not art or music creation), it felt my activities were more like going down some rabbit holes… not finding flow! 

On three different occasions in the past few weeks, it felt a bit like I was sucked down into time-zapping rabbit holes:

  • First one started with a conversation with a moving company.  Yes, the Big Move is getting closer! (And yes, I know other people do it much more quickly.) They highly recommended before they do any house inventory for a move estimate that we decide (as a couple) what is being moved.  Not so crazy when you consider we are downsizing (2300 sq ft with full basement to 1900 sq ft, no basement) and we have a full house of furniture already in Florida.  So I took this recommendation to begin my own house-alignment inventory.  A room-by-room list of our things – identified as definitely move, definitely not move, and uncertain.  Uncertain leads the race, because I’m not sure if things will fit, as well as being uncertain if I can convince hubby to NOT move it. (My hoarder husband is opposed to the concept of de-cluttering.)  Yes, organizing this into a structured framework – a five-page list – was a multi-hour loose-track-of-time exercise.  Was it flow or was it a rabbit hole activity? (And no, we have not yet had the conversation on the uncertain column.)
  • Second instance of flow was creating a yoga flow (no pun intended!)  I’m currently in physical therapy to learn to manage breast-cancer-related lymphedema.  My physical therapy team found some information on a clinical using yoga for treating this condition.  It was a series of recommended yoga asana, but there was not a clear yoga flow – no transitions from asana to asana.  So I researched the various asana, looked for transitions, and created a yoga flow sequence.  I’ve done it myself a few times, and gave it to my physical therapy team to re-use, if another client with this condition enjoys doing yoga. I definitely lost track of time during the creation, enjoyed researching the transitions, and felt a sense of accomplishment with the final framework. Was this the flow of using my signature strength or was it just another rabbit hole of exploration?
  • Third instance has been exploring Enneagram.  The Enneagram self-discovery tool has been getting more and more “press” lately.  I’ve been around long enough to see various personality tools come in and go out of favor.  In fact, as I pulled out my self-discovery files (yes, I have files on this topic), I found I had taken the Enneagram tool twice before.  (Simply to note: I’ve taken the Myer-Briggs tool at least 5 times as that one’s been around even longer – in and out of favor!) But, my familiarity with Enneagram was low.   What exactly is a Type1 or a Type 4?  That question turned into multiple days deeply exploring the concepts, on multiple sites, and creating my own descriptions on each personality type.   Again, hours of research and synthesis…. Is it flow or a rabbit hole?

Often utilizing your signature strengths or finding your passion is supposed to be “for the greater good”.  Is there any “greater good” from any of my dives into creative synthesis?I’m finding myself settling into even more Enneagram exploration. I’m still not familiar enough with the framework, but why do I need a feeling of expertise?  Why am I doing this?  Should I stop?

So, what is your point of view – am I finding flow (utilizing my strength of creativity synthesis) or merely chasing rabbits?

Picture Credit: Me – Actually a bit of artistic creativity – self-made wreath.

26 thoughts on “Is it Flow or a Rabbit Hole?

  1. It sounds to me like all three of those exercises were useful and held your attention, so I’d say flow. Regardless of what you call it, I say “go for it!” I hope the yoga flow is helping your lymphedema.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s OK to do things like this… delve deep into areas of interest. Why not!?! I’ve got the time (especially now with the pandemic shutting everything down) and it is fun.

      I’ve not done that specific yoga flow too often as I find it slower than I like a yoga sequence to be. But I have incorporated a few of the asana’s into my cool down sequence. With the manual massage my therapist taught me, I think I can keep the lymphedema in check.


    1. Marty, I just had to mention to you that the inventory exercise stimulated hubby to begin to pack some of his stuff up…. and toss some things out. There were 6 garbage bags of stuff in this weeks trash! DEFINITE progress!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pat, I don’t think it has to be one or the other as long as you are stimulated by the process. When you are DONE, you will know it and move on to something equally satisfying. That is the fun part of being retired. We no longer have to focus on just one thing. We get to create days that have multiple layers and components, that somehow fit together to create a satisfying life. As far as benefitting others, I think that happy, fulfilled people contribute much to the world. Best of luck with the sorting and welcome to Florida.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. First of all, I LOVE THE WREATH!! I hope you had a wonderful time at the wreath-making party. Your final product is gorgeous. Well done, my friend!!

    Such an interesting piece. Lots of food for thought. I, too, found ‘flow’ (unfamiliar term to me as used in this sense) while working. I could spend hours creating lesson plans and preparing the materials for the lessons. And not even realize how much time I had spent. But I don’t know that I have found whatever it is in retirement that would draw me in like my career did. Maybe crafting and scrapbooking, although, I do little bits and then I quit. Never work until I finish something. Where I would have worked for hours until I had a lesson so perfectly fine-tuned that it was ready for library-classroom use.

    So glad that we have been conversing about Enneagram and personality types. I am interested to read your synthesis of my Number Two-ness!!

    I also like the idea of making a list or chart of everything you have and determining what travels to Florida and what doesn’t. When we lived in Panama, there was the possibility that we would have to just abandon our home and leave suddenly as tensions between the U.S. and Panama were heightened. The Army instructed us to make a list with photos of everything we owned. I really enjoyed doing that. It was similar to library work…classifying, organizing. But it was back in the day of rolls of film and developing photos. So I had to try to group items for pictures to eliminate having 100s of cannisters of film and developing charges to pay for.

    Will be anxious to learn how the discussion goes about what to move and what to part with. I would tend to be the keeper of things in our relationship…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Leslie, I’m delving deeper into enneagram and it’s becoming more complicated! When I have a clearer sense of things for me, I’ll think on your profile. There’s 2 deeper layers (conceptually) that play into identifying your “growth areas”, which is really more the intent of the program. Not personality identification, but personal growth.

      Flow is a big deal in Positive Psychology. Your description of it while working is exactly it! I’ve struggled to find it post career. I did experience flow while writing/editing my book, but don’t think I’m up for creating another book (yet)! Writing blog posts sometimes… and now the Ennegram stuff. Hmm.

      On a positive note, Hubby has started to pack things up and toss things out. Yes, toss some things – 5 bags into the trash this week…. shocked me! Maybe doing the inventory list had a side benefit. 🙂


    1. Kathy, You will not be shocked to learn (I am sure) that I am a Type 1. (organizing perfectionist with strong inner critic voice) I’m delving into the area more deeply now and it is quite complicated – Tri-Types, Instinctual Drivers. I am hoping to have a growth plan (goal? WOTY?) from it by the new year. There’s the practical side of me coming out! What Type are you?


  4. I think you are being too hard on yourself. You refer to something as a rabbit hole when, in fact, you are doing the necessary work to solve a problem. It takes time to decide on what will stay and what will go when you are moving. Especially if you haven’t moved in a long time. You are take the steps necessary to make your final decision. Nothing is easy. Everything takes time the first time you attempt to do it. If you told me you spent the same amount of time scrolling on Facebook, then I’d call that a rabbit hole.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh Lorry, being too hard on myself is a given! And the Enneagram work is surprisingly supporting that is an issue with me. Kinda ironic. I hate to admit that I do end up scrolling on FB at least 30-45 minutes a day. Sad, but I do find inspiring things and things that make me smile…. I try and avoid the controversial or negative.


  5. My thoughts, knowing you, is that at least the second two are right in your sweet spots of flow. Analyzing and organizing are your strengths and I believe your are finding ways to use those strengths in positive manners. Finding out more about Enneagram helps you decide its worth and value for you and others. Developing a yoga flow again helps you and others. Research and development! Perfect for you!!!!!!!! And establishing what goes, stays or undecided definitely fits your organization skills. Your further along at what to take than you were before. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Candyse. Unfortunately this is just another good example of me needing external validation – hah! As I learn more about the Enneagram, self-acceptance seems to be my big area of growth. Trusting myself to validate myself! But, it is nice to hear that folks who know me pretty well do see the flow in it. Let me know if you want to hear about Enneagram over a glass of wine next week!!


  6. I think that you’re a thinker and an investigator and that you like drilling down through layers to find the kernel of truth that applies to your life. I’m a bit the same (although I think you’re more so) and that’s perfectly okay – it keeps your brain active, has good outcomes, and is something a lot of people would envy – so rabit hole or flow? I don’t think it needs defining – just enjoy the process x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Leanne, Yes, I am definitely an over-thinker… we both know that! And a researcher as well. It’s kinda been fun to put this skill back into action with these deep dives. I’m not sure where it will take me, but you are right…as long as I enjoy the process! And I am (as I delve even further into the complication that is Enneagram).


  7. I recently took the OCEAN personality test. I’m mostly O with a fair amount of C, and not much E, A or N. But I kinda knew this already. I might try the Enneagram since I have some extra time these days. Good point about flow vs. rabbit hole. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tom, OCEAN is a new one for me…. so yup, it might be another rabbit hole! Enneagram is amazingly complicated… I stumbled into a 5-day seminar on it this week and my mind is spinning. Yes, 5 days, 5-7 hours of lectures each day! I’m trying to choose just a few to listen to, but this construct is much more complex than I originally expected! Deeper and deeper I go.


    1. Janis, I chuckled a bit at the “some other important” possibility. Right now, my calendar days seem to be surprisingly wide open to explore rabbit holes! Maybe it’s why I’m suddenly doing more of them.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Lisa – So nice to hear from you in the comments! Thanks for the link to the Qigong – I will check it out. Yoga has been super helpful to me in this post-breast-cancer space. And nice to know you relate to the rabbit holes…. it’s the researcher in ex-P&Gers I am sure!


  8. I’m a 9 year breast cancer survivor. A fellow P&Ger – Catherine Russell – gave me Wu Ming Qigong for Breast Health with Master Nan Lu, OMD
    I found it helpful! Good luck. I relate to the rabbit hole. And the downsizing nightmare. Lisa

    Liked by 1 person

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