Ever feel like you can’t seem to make progress? Feel like some days you are taking one step forward, and three steps backward? Can’t get in the groove? In a funk? Maybe it’s your work, or your family, your relationships, your workout plan, or your faith…. Maybe it’s all of these?
Moderate and periodic chaos is part of real life, agreed. However, if we find ourselves reacting and running, then I would suggest we may need to find or recapture our rhythm in life.
What is rhythm? It’s that place or condition where most aspects of your life that are important to us are all being advanced in a net-positive direction daily or weekly and in moderation. When rhythm exists, setbacks and stress in any area of life can be addressed in a healthy way, and the gifts of this life can easily be recognized and embraced.
I’ve noticed in my life that lack of rhythm manifests during periods of interruption. Interruption can be caused by outside influence, by trying to please others, trying to accommodate others’ requests of us, calendar overload, running the kids from activity to activity, over-attending work or social functions, or lack of margin in our schedules. It can also be caused by not defining and protecting the boundaries around those resources and activities that are critical to our health and well-being and our success.
My Dad used to say “easy does it” to my brothers and I as kids. I used to think, why take it easy, when you can go wide-open, and get done quickly and now! He understood that slow and steady wins the race.
Rhythm is often associated with and so important in music. We often hear about the pace of play in sports, golf, soccer, football. Rhythm is critical in education, as we know that life-long learning occurs when material is absorbed in a consistent and methodical fashion. Cramming hours for a test and pulling all-nighters for a week is far less effective than 30 minutes of exposure daily over the semester.
Imagine attending a symphony performance, where the conductor or any of the members allowed a call or text from his own cell phone to interrupt the rhythm of the orchestra. Or mid-performance, an audience member jumped on stage and said “excuse me sir… can I speak with you?”… These things don’t happen because there are defined and understood boundaries around behavior during a symphony performance; otherwise the rhythm of the performance would be disrupted, and the effectiveness of the movement is lost.
There are many good reasons to stop, react, divert, interrupt, or be distracted. Catching a baby’s smile, spontaneous activities with our spouse, significant other, or family member. Or stopping what we are doing to help someone in need. We must be flexible to recognize and react in these and similar situations.
However, in order to be successful in accomplishing business and personal goals, we must establish and protect our rhythm. At work, it’s staying focused on the 20% of activities that generate 80% of our effectiveness. We must protect that time in our calendar, and protect others inside and outside the organization from interrupting that rhythm. The same applies at the gym, at the dinner table, during family events, and at our place of worship.
When we are in our rhythm, we are focused and in our zone for maximum yield. We can sell and produce more at work, support and connect more at home, build more muscle and burn more calories at the gym, connect and worship deeper in our faith.
Thomas Merton said “Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” I believe the quality of our life is in direct correlation to the rhythm we choose to establish and maintain!
Contributed by Anthony Sucato