Start with creative to balance dream and reality
Just like last year, you’d like to do things differently.
Even if you hate the artifice of “resolutions,” you’ve got to admit that life is not balanced the way you dreamed it would be. Last year you compressed tasks and duties into your calendar—just like the year before. Every day you trimmed and fitted and canceled and scheduled, and, well, that is the reality of how time works.
Like it or not, your calendar is a fine-tuned instrument that can help you chase dreams even as you wrestle with reality. Given the right mix of focused yet stretchy intentionality, it is a tool of agency. But if you focus on rest rather than productivity, you might have a more humane and productive year. Who knows, you might even evade the burnout everyone is talking about.
Rest is an old concept introduced in the Jewish scriptures with a story of a Creator who rested after a few days because, you know, the job was done. It’s a better story than the myths surrounding Steve Jobs/ Elon Musk/ Jeff Bezos because it is rooted in relationship and promise rather than relentless, maniacal control.
However: swapping out life-direction stories is not so easy. Productivity myths have shaped the consciousness and priorities of U.S. working people for decades and centuries. Those stories have shaped us so thoroughly that we default to productivity as the primary metric of a well-lived life. How much money we make, or hours we work, or books we write, or burgers we sell—these are the metrics that provide our meaning. And all that seems oddly out of joint with the things we say are important, like family, or people, or napping (which only the brave admit to). Our recent great resignation is a coming to terms with the cognitive dissonance.
If we talk about making rest a priority—are we talking about napping? Maybe. For many people, rest has a lot to do with those moments of being absorbed in chasing a dream. Writing (for me), sketching (also for me), drawing, painting, producing music, long conversations with friends—all those things can cause one to lose track of time. And losing track of time is key: where does that flow state appear for you?
Schedule your daily dose of dream-chasing energy
The loss of the sense of time passing is the very thing you should schedule. Every day, if possible. As early in the day as you can. That’s because that flow state gives back more than it takes up. In the flow state, we connect new thoughts, gain energy for the ordinary tasks, and even invest those tasks with meaning as we see better ways to get things done.
That’s what rest looks like.
“But that’s impossible,” I can hear you saying. “I’ve got young kids/old parents/troublesome teens. There is no way I can find that time.” But is that true?
Here’s the challenge: can you slice your most compelling dream into month-long slivers and then into 15-minute increments? Because if you can, you might just have set yourself up for a daily dose of energy that also produces something you can hold in your hand at the other end of the year.