Creative people have a million dreams and goals. The good thing is that our dreams and goals are often the very thing that keeps us creative.  However, we often turn our dreams and goals into a bad thing when we get frustrated because we can’t have or do it all.  Deep down we know we can’t have it all all the time but that doesn’t stop us from striving to have and do everything all at once.

This desire to have it all certainly makes balance very difficult.  How do we balance having a job that pays the bills, our creative ventures, and living with purpose? The answer: limits and tension.

“If we are to live our lives fully and well we must learn to embrace the opposites, to live in creative tension between our limits and our potentials.”  -Parker Palmer author of Let Your Life Speak

I love that quote.  However, limits and tension are two things we don’t like to hear.  Limits often seem like the cause of tension and therefore limits are the last thing we want in our lives. We are artists and we want to believe that we are unstoppable.

Allow me to put a different spin on this.  Life has seasons and every season has different goals and focuses.  The creative tension comes from embracing the season you’re in while still being the dreamer that you are.  Let me elaborate.

Limits

I’ve been very restless and discontent lately.  I’ve found myself wishing for something more and feeling like there are a million other things I should be doing.  I’ve also found myself wishing I could pursue some of the things I used to have in my life.

I do a lot of journaling because I think that it’s good for reflection.  I was recently reading some of the things I wrote back from my first year out of college-a time where I did have many of the things I was wishing I still had now. In reading and reflecting I discovered some very enlightening things.

The first thing I discovered was that I was so busy trying to do everything and accomplish everything at one time, that I didn’t enjoy or cherish any of the things that I was currently accomplishing (aka-all the things I wish I had now.)

I found this very informative because it made me realize that limits aren’t always about restrictions, sometimes knowing your limits allows you to enjoy where you’re at.  Accept that you can’t do it all all the time. Accept that while there may be limits keeping you where you are at- there are things you  are meant to do in this season of life that you may not be able to do in other seasons. Let your limits make you fully present in the season that you’re in.

Tension

You are probably saying: “I just can’t let myself settle and get stagnant! I still have other things that I want to pursue!”  Correct.  You can’t get so settled in your limits that you never pursue any of your other dreams.  You have dreams and desires and potential for a reason.  There is always more to do and new things to pursue. The creative tension between what is and what could be is the very thing that keeps you going.

The other thing that I discovered while reading my past journal entries was that I didn’t enjoy where I was at because I was dreaming about doing some of the things I’m doing now.  Yes, I should have enjoyed the present but the drive to do what I’m doing now proves that some of the tension and restlessness I felt is what pushed me to achieve other goals on my list.

How Do We Balance Our Dreams With Life?

  1. Acknowledge that this balance is indeed a delicate one.
  2. Accept and embrace where you are at now and celebrate the good things you are currently achieving.
  3. Realize that there is a difference between the tension we get from trying to do everything at one time and the tension we get from wanting more. The tension we get from having something inside us that we have to get out or create or express is the tension to hold onto.
  4. Let the good tension direct you and allow you to continue to set goals and dreams.

There is a lot to be said on this subject so this post is in fact, a two parter. Next week’s topic will be discussing the dreams you let go but want to get back.

The Goal List

As I said I think reflection is important so in light of that I want to give you a challenge. I want you to list all the dreams and goals you currently have and have ever had in the past.  Then, using different markings, go ahead and mark the ones you’ve achieved, the ones you’re still working on, and  the ones that you’ve achieved and lost (that one leads to the next post.)

Ecclesiastes 3:1- There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.

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