A few week ago I wrote to you in 2021: Let it Be Enough about finding a practice of setting goals and priorities, scheduling tasks to get them done and letting these efforts in our practice of dream building be 100% enough. Since then I’ve settled into the routine of using my Get to Work Book agenda to set my priorities for the week, do the work and let that be enough.
This agenda helps me break down tasks with lots of steps so that I’m clear about what needs to be done to reach a goal and approximately how many weeks it will take. For example, I would like to add a detailed product page to my website so people can see the details of the Women’s Workshirt and sign-up to be test clients. To do that I have to make small pattern tweaks the tailor has requested, I have to dye fabric, order buttons and thread, schedule the photography etc. So I map this all out on the Project pages and then put this into the calendar based on what I know I can reasonably accomplish in any given week.
After two weeks of doing this, and successfully accomplishing tasks I set out to do, I noticed something fascinating. On the one hand I can genuinely look at my work and see how a week’s worth of tasks support the goals to achieve my dreams. This is pretty incredible. However, I also notice that I can still find myself feeling like it is not enough, in moments of stress or exhaustion, watching my monkey mind say, “but you’ve not done enough” or “but what about this problem?” The awesome part of this process though is that I can know for sure that this feeling has nothing, whatsoever to do with the productive energy that actually builds my dreams (The Get to Work agenda says so!). Rather it is some American inherited neurosis to feel like we haven’t accomplished enough no matter what we’ve undertaken, to work in a frenzied, anxious pace in pursuit of something impossible – feeling enough through what we’ve accomplished.
A long time ago I heard someone on the radio refer to areas of their life as burners on a stove – family, friends, work, relationships, parenting etc. They said that if you seek achievement in work or another area of the stove, you have to turn down the other burners. In short, you can’t be successful with work and still have the energy it takes to be a good parent, partner or friend. It was more than a decade ago that I heard this and the worry has stuck with me. And now I wonder if it is not only possible for us to invest in different parts of our lives, but necessary.
The Get to Work Book is one tool I’ve found to train myself to make steady, strategic progress on my dreams and to reveal where I’m overdoing it and shutting down important burners in my life. Why is it important to make peace with where we are at? I have the sense that it is important to strike a balance between the energy to push forward and find new solutions or ways of doing something without running ourselves into the ground or sacrificing space to think and rest, for precious moments with loved ones. Pushing too hard, we risk losing perspective (and we can see evidence of that across industries in our world today). In 2020-21, more than ever, the walls between our work, our families, our communities are disintegrating. We can draw strength and creative solutions from this. We can use the love, the creativity we find in these corners of our life to fuel progress on our dreams and to find true sources of fulfillment.