Has life become just another thing to check off your to-do list?
In my practice, many young people in their 20’s and 30’s have similar unconscious or conscious life goals that they want in a specified order — particular achievements to cross off “their list.”
The checklist includes: get accepted into the college of choice, have a boyfriend or girlfriend, graduate, get married then have a child, get another degree or career advancement, buy a big house and car, raise children, send children to college, and, finally, plan for retirement.
Each item also needs acquisition by a specific age. Long-term boyfriend turned husband by 28. Master’s by 30. House and children by 32. Yet, the underlying motivation often seems driven by the viewpoint or bias of family, media, or culture.
Fairly, with our fast-paced social media-driven lives, it has become more difficult to accomplish, much less stay focused, without an agenda. Therefore, large life accomplishments like finding a partner, getting married, and having children is on “the list” of short-term and long-term goals for many. Some days I wonder if a client will ask, “Do you think there’s an app for tracking my checklist?”
Generation Y (ages 18-35) is often referred to as the innovative generation because they grew up with overt consumerism. In effect, they are faced with constant pressure to keep pace, if not stay ahead. Many in this generation go through life with a competitive agenda pressuring to keep up with everyone else around them. It’s a faster, sleeker form of “keeping up with the Joneses,” and with Facebook an even more accessible one.
Social media is an easy and impersonal, though sometimes fabricated, format to view what others have and, therefore, what you should want: go to college, graduate, get married, have a child, get another degree, buy a big house and car, and then plan for retirement.
Why is this the good life to Gen Y? This generation wants instant satisfaction. They tend to be impatient. They don’t want to wait. To be is to work, gain social status, money, or love. However, if it’s not handed to them with great ease it goes in the “too hard basket” and they tell everyone that the goal is unattainable.
However, what makes life fulfilling for one person is often not the same for another. Many women already recognize the bygone belief that she must be married to be truly happy, but now Gen Y women feel they must be married by a certain age after completing a higher degree, have a great home and car, and then children to complete their lives. Plus, they must keep up with their friends and family expectations of what a happy life is.
Kate Schermerhorn, director of After Happily Ever After says, “Let’s throw away our antiquated ideas, our outdated formula for marriage, the ones that only work 50% of the time. Instead, let’s start thinking more creatively. Let’s find a way of making love, relationships, and marriage thrive.”
Creativity As a Way of Life
When you live a creative life, you are able to enjoy yourself, your purpose, know yourself, and create what makes you happy so that you move toward more happiness. When a relationship begins or ends, you continue to live creatively through the process.
According to an article in Huff Post Business 2012, Arianna Huffington was mentioned as one of the ten most creative business people. “When Arianna Huffington is looking for inspiration, she goes to sleep.”
There are many, many great ideas locked inside of us, Huffington says. We just need to close our eyes to see them.
Therefore, there are three nap rooms in the offices of the Huffington Post Media Group.
If you follow a natural pacing of creativity and rest throughout the day, you can create a rhythm that flows rather than resisting your natural urge to rest or create. You can learn to reflect on your internal wisdom and creativity using your life goals and dreams as a guide.
There is a strong connection between stress and creative expression. In fact, there are certain times of the day when growth, immunity, and anti-aging processes are occurring. There are other times when dynamics that regulate appetite, food intake, weight gain, healing, memory learning, creativity, and other balanced life processes are occurring. If these times are missed due to fighting your fatigue with caffeine or medicating your insomnia, you miss the important creative and physiological processes.
Living a creative life has to do with being aware of these processes, then reflecting on and nurturing them through the day. Early morning hours are conducive to sexual arousal, while meditation is productive in the later morning and gives way to exercise. Naps are helpful in the afternoon, especially if sleep is missed during the night. Late afternoon is a good time for nurturing and healing, making it an excellent time for therapy sessions. Evening hours are for social engagement and self-nurturing while 10 pm to midnight is quiet time in preparation for your dream cycle.
This four stage creative cycle named by Psychologist Ernest Rossi can be applied to any area of your life. You can read more about his influential writings in his book, The Psychobiology of Gene Expression.
Living creatively can be both challenging and rewarding. It becomes a way of life, not a checklist of things to be done. If your agenda is living life more creatively, relationships, marriage, college degrees, and other material wants and needs will be part of life, not a means to an end.
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*Copyright Jean Pollack.