I feel as though the cyclical nature of life is being highlighted to me in this season. Life cycles, phases of growth, phases of the moon, and seasons were all so obvious in Jewish culture. Their new month started with the New Moon; their feasts aligned with the seasons. They had weekly Shabbat blessings and meaningful coming-of-age ceremonies. Marriage celebrations were intricate and very intentional as well. Theirs is a culture that knows the values of human life and honoring their God in every season.
As I step into greater depths of the intentionality of God, along with His faithfulness and consistency, I have been drawn to think about how I can practically and sustainably take a small step toward implementing rhythms in my life. In general, I feel more familiar with having yearly rhythms for personal or family milestones, holidays, and other special occasions that I want to meet with intentionality. While there are certain annual, communal rhythms that we practice here, such as Christmas & the Convocation for the Fall Feasts, I know the Lord wants to meet with me in each moment, even in the daily mundane tasks. There are priorities He desires that I share with Him and make time for. He desires constant communion.
And so, rather than asking Him for a specific word or resolution I need to hold to this year, I’ve been asking Him about what rhythms I need to implement. What things do I need to make space for in each day, week, and month? What am I to focus on in this season?
/ riTHem / (noun) a strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound. the systematic arrangement of musical sounds, principally according to duration and periodic stress. a regularly recurring sequence of events, actions, or processes.Oxford Languages
Rhythms are strong habits that are arranged within your day (or week, month, year) according to what values you want to prioritize over the course of your lifetime. I like the definition above, but there’s another one specifically referring to rhythms in art that I think is applicable as well: the movement within a piece of art that helps the eye travel through to a point of focus (Neuberger Museum of Art Education team). Rhythmic lifestyle habits help you move in the direction of your desired point of focus.
So the first step of establishing rhythms is to determine what your desired point of focus is. What kind of person do you want to be? What are your values? What kinds of things do you want to accomplish and/or be apart of in this season (and even in your lifetime)? What do you want to be remembered for?
For me, I want to be known as a kind person who wisely discerns when to slow down to engage in a conversation, when to focus in on work tasks, when to play, and when to rest. I value my connection with God, family, and friends. I also value productivity, creativity, and learning. There are so many things I want to learn, know, and practice. Right now that looks like a lot of reading and writing that has to be balanced with work, play, rest, and relational connections.
Once there is a point of focus, you can choose rhythms that will help you cultivate those values and help you progress toward meeting your goals. While this may be the loose idea behind resolutions, the difference is a resolution is really just “a firm decision to do or not to do something” (Oxford Languages) and a “promise that you make to yourself to start doing something good or stop doing something bad on the first day of the year” (Cambridge English Dictionary). I’ve found that even if I make resolutions, I still need rhythms to fulfill these promises to myself. This is why focusing on creating intentional rhythms will end up being more sustainable and has a greater likelihood of being fulfilled than mere resolutions.
There are many ways to organize these habits, but I like to consider the following: energy rhythms (movement and sleep), productivity rhythms (focus, work, progress), relational rhythms (connect and deepen), recharging rhythms (relax and rest), rhythms to order (clear and organize), rhythms of purpose (reflect, identify, engage), rhythms of mindful consumption (eating, drinking, spending, scrolling), rhythms of mindful investment (save, support, experience), and creative rhythms (learn, practice, play).
Different personalities will have a more natural inclination to different rhythms at the various times of day. I know some people who like to start their day with movement and then launch into a routine of planning and productivity. Others prefer a slower morning that starts with purpose and creative habits before engaging more productive tasks. Thus, applying these rhythms is really personal preference but it’s important to note that consistency is vital to sustainable rhythms once you discover what works for you.
For me, the morning has been great for rhythms of purpose, order, and productivity. Starting the day by reading, engaging Scripture, and journaling are all examples of purposeful habits that I prioritize in the morning. I also like to try to some basic tasks on my to-do list first thing to help me focus, make small steps of progress towards certain goals, and jump start my motivation for the day.
Midday/afternoon is where I implement most of my productivity and creativity rhythms along with any movement habits. Evening is where I enjoy recharging, connecting with people, and finishing any “ordering” tasks like straightening our apartment. We rarely have night watches anymore so night time is our sleep time. 🙂
I also try to implement relational rhythms and mindful consumption all throughout the day. I’m growing in discernment of conversation opportunities, when to slow down, when to focus in on work, and how much I’m on social media & why. These are all things that impact my relationships & mental state so maintaining awareness & sensitivity in each of these areas helps me make intentional choices that align with my values.
Mindful investment habits and bigger versions of each rhythm are typically weekly or monthly rhythms. This can include exploring with friends for relational, a bigger cleaning project for order, or going on a social media fast for mindful consumption.
Praying about, planning for, and investing in regular rhythms, instead of vague resolutions, is a step I’m making in my pursuit of intentionality, sustainability, and actively living out the values I want to prioritize in my life. I want to steward my time, energy, and resources well and live in the freedom & intimacy that God designed us to have! This focus has been guiding my steps into this new year and giving me hope. How about you? ♡
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