The World of Social Flow

Steve Pavlina:

One of the greatest areas of stuckness among my readers stems from trying to work on personal goals that would work so much better when framed as social goals. When you do that, you have to self-power everything.

It’s like hosting a party all by yourself and trying to make it fun and interesting all alone, with no one to help you, and with no guests participating. Then you may tell yourself that once you have a really good party going alone, then you’ll finally invite some people. What you don’t see is that people are the party.

In business and life, people are the success. People are the money. People are the fun.

The best part is that you don’t have to figure out all of the party details by yourself. You can co-create an awesome party together. It all starts with your intention. A party based on your personal goals isn’t likely land well. So step back and create a more aligned intention. Start telling people you want to host a fun party, and ask them if they’ll help steer you in the right direction. Ask them what would make them happy to attend? Listen. Involve them. Even if you only talk to one person about this, that can build momentum.


If you want more money and success flowing through your life, don’t focus so much on trying to acquire and achieve. Think instead about throwing parties and inviting people with fun, interesting, and stimulating offers. Direct your ambition towards creating nice social flow.

Think about the people and businesses that you love to patronize. Think about the best companies or fields you’d love to work in. Can you see how their perceived invitations and offers are more interesting than just, Come help us achieve our goals? We wants moolah!


You want more abundance flowing to you? It flows from other people. And if they don’t care much about helping you, you’ll find it 10X more difficult to get that flow going, maybe 100X. Everything you try to achieve will be self-powered, and self power is weak.


What I’d really love for you to grasp is the mindset of moving beyond framing your goals as strictly personal and opening yourself up to the world of social flow. Most of the good stuff you want in life will come from this social flow, so it’s wise to stop trying to achieve your goals by acting like you’re on an island bouncing ideas off a shredded volleyball. If you honor this social flow and learn to appreciate it, you’ll achieve your goals more easily, and you’ll have a lot more fun in life as well.

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Matchers vs Mismatchers

Steve Pavlina:

When I do creative projects today, I start with matcher mode. I work through the purpose and vision. I get enthusiastic about the results that will be generated. I think about the positive ripples. I get aligned with doing the project. If I share the idea, I prefer to share it with matchers, so they can help me better understand the idea’s potential.

When the idea is a bit more developed, I turn to the practical side. I identify the risks and list them out one by one. I look at the potential downsides. I consider problems that may arise and how to address them.

Matcher mode is faster. Mismatcher mode is slower. When I want to speed up and go faster, I shift into matcher mode. When I feel uncertain about the risks, I downshift into mismatcher mode and work through more details in advance.


What problems don’t really matter much even if they happen? What problems could you fix later if they happened? What problems would be relatively easy to pre-solve or prevent if you just think them through?

Also think about the opportunity side: What opportunities are you delaying or at risk of missing because you’re fussing over potential problems? How will you feel if someone else beats you to the punch because you moved too slowly? Are you really being cautious… or merely sluggish?


It’s common to see people pointing to problems as roadblocks. How many times have we heard people mention these or similar problems as reasons they can’t move forward in some area?

  • I can’t afford it.
  • I don’t have the time.
  • My family won’t let me.
  • I live with my parents.
  • I don’t have the skills.

If you lean too heavily on mismatcher mode, problems tend to become excuses for inaction. The existence of a problem is all you need to put the brakes on.

If you can lean towards matcher mode though, then problems can be seen as hidden opportunities, including all of the problems listed above. True matchers are advancing in all of these situations.


Remember these final rules of thumb:

  • Shift into matcher mode when you want to go faster (or if you sense that progress has been too slow or nonexistent).
  • Shift into mismatcher mode when you want to be more cautious (or if you sense that progress has been too chaotic, unstable, or stressful).

The key is to apply these modes of thinking at different times, so they don’t interfere with each other.

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The Advantage of Commitment

Steve Pavlina:

If you think it’s difficult to commit to something for so many years, you’re right. It is difficult. That’s why average and below average results are more common than exceptional results. Most people aren’t going to commit. But therein lies your greatest advantage. If you simply stick it out longer than most people, your odds of success increase.

Your field may look crowded, but that’s most likely because it’s flooded with dabblers. They’ll be gone within a year or less, replaced by new dabblers. These people don’t represent any serious competition. In fact, they’re most likely helping you. They’ll introduce new people to your field before they give up. Think of these dabblers as your volunteer marketing team. They help to expand the market for the products and services that you’ll eventually deliver.


Commitment doesn’t mean trapping or limiting yourself. It’s not about putting yourself in a box or a cage. It’s about choosing a certain line of development and running with it, which isn’t that difficult to do when you discover something you really love. Then your commitment is a commitment to enjoy your life and to express what feels good to you. It’s still going to involve a lot of work, but that work is mostly a labor of love. The question is whether or not you’re willing to put in the time.

Commitment and action bias are teammates. If you have a strong action bias but your actions are random and haphazard, you’ll pile up a lot of feedback, but it will be tough to make sense of it. On the other hand if you make a commitment to pursue a certain direction, and you cultivate a strong action bias too, then you’re going to acquire feedback that you can use to go further and further down that path. This is a terrific way to experience a fulfilling life that makes you happy and contributes to others.

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10-Year Skills

Steve Pavlina:

I encourage you to think a decade or two ahead as well, especially when it comes to skill-building. It takes years to build really strong skills. It would be a shame if your investment only has a short lifespan, and then you have to start over. It’s so nice to continue leveraging skills that took 10+ years to build, knowing that they aren’t going out of style anytime soon.

To figure out which skills to invest in, you can guess or try to predict how the future will be different, but it’s actually easier to predict how it won’t be different.


What will you still love, enjoy, and appreciate in 10 years?

Your answers to this question signal another good way to decide how to invest your time and energy in the years ahead.

Your tastes and preferences will change over time, but some interests will remain stable for decades. What are those stable parts of your character?


When you understand the stable parts of your character, you can invest in them more deeply. You can make much bigger bets on those areas of your life that you know you’re still going to enjoy and appreciate many years ahead.

Now if you combine the stable parts of your character and lifestyle with the stable parts of your work and skills, that’s where you can make your biggest bets of all.

For me a pattern in both areas is personal growth. It’s part of my business and my personal life, and I can predict that these patterns will remain stable for at least another 10 or 20 years. So that’s where I can justify betting bigger – a lot bigger.


Investments in personal growth are very different because those investments don’t depreciate. In fact, they tend to appreciate. Due to the long-term stability of personal growth, I can recoup huge gains over time. What I spend for 2020 is likely to still be paying dividends 5 years, 10 years, 20 years out, and beyond. The payoff is just so wonderful.


Are you spending more on the unchangeable parts of your life (like personal growth or communication skills) than you do on the changeable parts (like tech)? If not, consider flipping that pattern around, and watch the long-term ROI from your investments soar.


To make really good investments in yourself, your knowledge, your skills, and your lifestyle, seek to identify and understand the unchangeable core within you. What about you seems stable and isn’t likely to change much in the next 10 years? These are terrific areas for making big, bold bets on yourself.

By contrast, what’s really just a whim that you aren’t likely to care about in 10 years? Steer clear of plunking money down on those areas.


If you aren’t willing to spend your money on what truly matters to you, that’s a sign that you’re probably holding back due to fear, self-doubt, or some other internal misalignment. Be willing to bet bigger on yourself.

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Who Are You?

Steve Pavlina:

When you notice that some part of your life doesn’t quite feel right, I think it’s wise to pause for a moment and get in touch with your true self. But in order to do that, you may need to turn down the volume of external influences.

When I finally turned off enough of the external input that was coming at me each day, a wonderful thing happened. First, I felt relieved. After a few weeks, I began to experience much greater mental clarity about my goals and intentions. Planning ahead became significantly easier. My workflow sped up.

As the noise died down, I could clearly see which new goals and intentions were congruent with my true self and which were more like thought injections being pushed upon me from the outside in.


Others expect us to behave a certain way, and they communicate their expectations to us, either directly or indirectly. Over time their expectations mesh with our dominant thoughts, and their expectations become our expectations of ourselves.

At some point it’s a good idea to back away from all these influences, clear your mind, and get to know the beautiful paradox that is your true self. The more you understand that person, the easier it is to set goals and intentions that are achievable — and enjoyable — for you.


During the shift you may want to stay focused on the new vibe until you’ve had a chance to reach the other side in physical reality and re-ground yourself there. Sometimes, but not always, it’s just a little simpler to go through these kinds of shifts without being too heavily influenced by other people.

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Steve Pavlina:

Consider what happens if you always keep your options open, especially when it comes to your work, relationships, and personal growth. Keeping your options open means you don’t really commit and invest. This is fine if you want to play it safe, play the field, or explore for a while. There’s tremendous value in exploration. But at some point you’re likely to want to plant your flag and more deeply explore a meaningful commitment. Commitment-free exploration has its limits.

Have you run into such limits yet? Is keeping your options open starting to feel stale, boring, frustrating, unsatisfying, or just plain blah?

Do you honestly expect to wake up each morning feeling excited about a commitment to nothing in particular?

A spicier commitment could be a long-term relationship, a business or career path, a skill set, a core area of self-development, or really anything that you consider investment-worthy. What makes you want to shove all your chips into the pot and say, “I’m all in”? If nothing comes to mind, I’d say you have an inner stature problem, and that’s likely to hurt your social life as well.

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Trust Your Own Intelligence

Steve Pavlina:

In the long run, it’s more important to learn to trust your own intelligence than it is to be right. At first your self-trust may be misplaced. You may very well find that you make a lot of dumb decisions by trusting yourself ahead of people who seem to know more. But through this process of failure, you’ll develop your intellectual capacity and expand your awareness, and soon your self-trust will be justified, and you’ll begin making some really empowering decisions that actually generate results.

The reason for self-trust becomes clear when you consider the alternative, which is never to fully trust yourself. You can’t really behave intelligently if you can’t trust your own decisions and act on them. Imagine what would happen if your computer was always doubtful about its computations, so it figured it was best not to share the results with you for fear of being wrong. It would be useless. And it’s fair to say that a human being who cannot trust him/herself is somewhat useless, in the sense that s/he is living far below his/her potential. But in that case, the most likely outcome is that this person will end up serving whatever goals social conditioning imparts. In the USA this means getting a job, going into debt, and gaining weight, among other things.

It’s fine to put more faith in your scuba instructor when you know nothing about scuba. That isn’t a self-trust issue. Self-trust comes into play when you make the big decisions of your life, such as those involving your career, your choice of mate, your spiritual beliefs, and how you will live. It isn’t intelligent to let your parents, your spouse, or your social conditioning make these decisions for you. I guarantee that if someone else makes these decisions on your behalf, your results in life will be nothing but a pale shadow of your true potential.

Trust your own intelligence, even when it doesn’t seem warranted to do so.

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Creating Clarity

Steve Pavlina:

Proactive people are clear about what’s important to them and why. They cut through the clutter of uncertainty to make decisions and take action. Reactive people, on the other hand, allow themselves to wallow in a fog of uncertainty, forever reacting to events and circumstances that seem beyond their control.

When you live reactively, you do give up control, but you can never give up responsibility. To the degree that you fail to make decisions for yourself, someone else will come along and make those decisions for you, whether it be your parents, your spouse, your boss, the media, or societal conditioning. After a time you’ll find yourself enduring a life you never really wanted… always working to fulfill someone else’s goals and never your own.

Proactive people accept that it’s impossible to avoid responsibility for one’s results in life, so they jump in and participate willingly. Instead of living as mere statistics and playing follow-the-follower, they make conscious choices based on their unique values, beliefs, and goals. Consequently, they enjoy a sense of passion and purpose that is forever denied those who live reactively.

See also: Clarity

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Freeing Up Energy

If something isn’t working for you — be it your current work, your living situation, a relationship, etc. — should you quit it as soon as possible, or transition out of it?

Steve Pavlina explains:

The answer depends on how quickly you want to free up the trapped/stuck energy and get it flowing again. The more energy you free up, the faster you can go in pursuing other changes.

And initially, a great way to leverage this is to free up small bits of stuck energy and then use that to free up even more.

For me a huge improvement in my flow happened after my divorce finally went through. I had a lot of stuck energy in that relationship, and shortly after the divorce was done, so many things started falling into place, like getting my website update project done.

Dan Sullivan suggests making a list of your top procrastinations and prioritizing them by which ones you think would free up the most energy – energy that you can then apply to further growth and improvement. Make those items your to-do list. That’s basically his recipe for going at 10x speed.

For instance, one of my areas of stuck energy was not having any lead magnets. So I blasted through that with the recent 10-day challenge. That freed up even more energy, so it’s speeding up how fast I can go…

The more of your energy is stuck/trapped in various things you’re resisting on some level, the slower you’re able to grow and change. The more of that energy you free up, the faster you can go.

Even donating a bunch of stuff from my garage helped increase the flow. Every little bit counts – clearing out your email inbox, cleaning up your kitchen, etc. Wherever there’s trapped energy, it’s friction that puts the brakes on.

How can you tell where there’s trapped energy? You keep noticing something that isn’t changing much, and you somehow want it to be different.

How can you tell when the energy is flowing? You feel excited, happy, grateful, enthusiastic, in love with life, etc. You’re riding the waves and having fun.

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Edgy Goals

Steve Pavlina:

If you’re the type of person who got into trouble when you were younger, always getting punished for this and that, why are you trying to play it straight today? If you struggle to achieve relatively straightforward goals, perhaps you’re not the kind of person who can play it straight and expect to succeed. Perhaps you’re too much of a rebel for that strategy to work.

The key breakthrough was when I asked a simple question:

What can I do that feels edgy, rebellious, and fun but isn’t illegal?

What might be against the rules? What might push some boundaries? What would have some element of risk?

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