Living in rhythm

I have a deep yearning to find a way to live my life in sync with my own internal rhythms and the rhythms of the natural world around me. I currently spend so much energy trying to fight these natural rhythms in an attempt to impose on myself the kind of bland consistency that our business world requires, and I’m tired of it.

I long to be able to organize my work around the times in the day that I am most productive. By nature, I am a night-owl. I tend to be the most productive later in the day, but that burst of mental focus and energy often hits its peak too late in the day to be of much use at work. And because I’m having to get up earlier in the morning than my circadian rhythms prefer, I am too tired once I get home in the evenings to make the best use of this time. If I could plan the most productive day for myself, I would sleep later, use my most productive hours for work, and head to bed later. Although the balance of sleep and wakefulness would likely be the same, my productivity would be so much higher by living in cooperation with my natural daily circadian rhythms instead of fighting them.

I dream of structuring my projects around my natural ebb and flow of enthusiasm over the course of each month. As a woman, my hormones do impose a regular variation in the level of energy I have for various activities over the course of each month. There are times when I have greater energy for moving projects forward and engaging the outer world and times when I am more inwardly focused and have more energy for evaluating and refining work in progress. Again, our standard business world dictates when each kind of work will be done with no consideration of the natural rhythm of the employee. To be able to plan the stages of projects around my monthly cycles through these preferences would ensure that I have the energy and focus I need to do my best work.

I crave the flexibility to vary my work around the natural rhythms of the seasons around me. Even more pronounced than the effects of my monthly rhythms are those of the seasons. The warmth and increased sunlight of summer bring higher energy levels that lead me more out into the world around me, give me greater stamina for interactions with others, reduce my need for sleep, and make me more active. The cold, dark days of winter lower my energy levels, decrease my ability to deal with others, create a greater inward focus, and increase my sleep requirements. Although I’m always an introvert, this tendency is even more pronounced in the winter than the rest of the year. My energy levels are never high, but they do reach their maximum during the long days of summer. This annual rhythm obviously impacts not only how productive I may be but has an even greater effect on the kinds of work that I excel at during each season.

While I know that life will always impose some requirements that I work against my own rhythms at times, I firmly believe that living as close as possible to my natural rhythms will create a freedom and spaciousness that will maximize my ability to give my gifts to the world around me. This seems to me to be the epitome of the good life—a simple life lived in harmony with my internal cycles. It’s obvious that self-employment is the only possible route to reaching the kind of flexibility I long for, but that means leaving the “safe” life of working for others and embracing the risk that is always inherent in marching to the beat of one’s own drum. I find that the depth of my longing is increasing my courage and my willingness to embrace that risk. All that remains is the development of a solid, workable plan for making a living in a way that honors these rhythms, and I’ll be on my way.

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