As I record this I’m beginning nightmare mode. Nightmare mode is a concept I got off a fellow I listen to on YouTube from time to time, Alex Becker, who is a bit of a nut and is a software and internet marketer. He has some interesting things to say about productivity, dopamine addictions, social media and all kinds of stuff, so from time to time I’ll watch one of his YouTube videos. He talks about nightmare mode with the basic idea being stripping down your schedule and your activities to the bare minimum to focus in on a project.
For me I’m just coming to the end and have just concluded two different transitional roles, a transitional pastorate and a transitional coaching role. My wife and I find ourselves in this season every year and a half to two years, asking “What’s next?” So in this interim time, I’m spending some time in nightmare mode and the whole purpose is seeking direction for the next steps.
I’m also deciding to dig in and just surface any short or long-term anger issues that I may be dealing with that arose from a conversation I had with one of my mentors, a district superintendent who oversees about a hundred churches, who challenged me earlier this year. I asked “How do you deal with all the stuff that goes on in so many places?” and he just talked about regularly dealing with anger issues and maybe talking to someone about it. So I’m going to spend some time doing that because those things can accumulate and build up.
I’m also going to focus on some health issues, making sure I’m eating healthy and working out. I’m looking actually at not super high productivity, but a moderate level of productivity in this time and just making sure I’m doing the right things because rest is one of the components. Unlike a normal nightmare mode, rest is one of the components of the one I’m in.
So I’ve built this little spreadsheet. It’s got the dates from from today- I’m recording this in late November- through the rest of the year. I’ve got a checklist of things I want to do every day. I want to begin with the Word and prayer. I want to write down one of the “wins” from the day before which is a habit I’ve established this year that is really helpful in starting your day. It just reinforces doing the right things.
I want to get in a “cortisol stroll” with my wife, which is an early morning walk to get some natural light. I want to identify out of all my to do’s. I want to get my to-dos down, but I want to identify that One Thing I need to do each day to make that day a success. In fact, today my one thing is to record a couple or three podcasts, including this one.
I want to make sure I eat light for this month. I know Christmas is in there and stuff, so there’s gonna be some challenges, but the way things are with travel being somewhat reduced and socializing reduced, it might not be as difficult as usual. In order to eat light that means one of the smoothie’s my wife makes for breakfast and probably going to go with a Bulletproof coffee for most lunches. Or as I sometimes do, a coffee with a hard-boiled egg and one of my wife’s power balls that just has a lot of good things all bunched together, sometimes with unsweetened dark chocolate to make it even more palatable.
I want to make sure I do a workout of some kind every day. It might just be stretching. It might be more of a workout on the TRX. It might be significant hike. And if we get in a place this season where there’s cross country skiing, it will of course include that.
Tied to the workout, every day I want to do this little neck mobility routine I come across. It’s just a three-minute neck stretching routine that I’ve found really, really good. I’ve had kind of a tight neck for most of my life, as long as I can remember really, looking one way in particular over my shoulder as I’m running down the road. I can’t even tell which side it is right now because the neck routine is working because it seems to be mobile on both sides, so I want to keep doing that.
I want to maintain my pattern of not looking at the news until five. I must confess I cheated a little bit through November given all the excitement with elections and other things going on. We’re going to limit any entertainment between 8:00pm – 10:00 PM. In fact one thing I’ve already done is I’ve put our modem on a timer, so right now our modem turns off at 10:00pm. It just turns off, so if we’re watching something online, a video or something, it ends and nothing can be seen through our TV at that time.
I also want to make sure I only hit Facebook once at the most per day for non-work purposes. Sometimes I do Facebook ads for my books and things, but I’m going to allow just one per day and that has to be after 5:00 PM.
Again, I’m trying to pace myself in these days. It’s not all about high productivity. Another thing in my little spreadsheet here is I want about a 50/50 breakdown between work- meaning productive, content production- and thinking. That thinking might include education or it might include talking to someone, interviewing someone, learning some things, but I want a breakdown there. So there’s a personal development side to that.
That is the breakdown of my nightmare mode. It doesn’t sound like a nightmare. For me it sounds like a pretty good month. I’m looking forward to working this stuff through, focusing in on some important things and looking to see what the next chapter of life and ministry brings.
You may be listening to this at the end of a season of ministry or a natural break in your year, and I just encourage you to take a pause. Maybe it can’t be a matter of weeks and can only be in days or even hours, but take a pause. Think through, pray through what the shift should be and add one or two new habits to move in that direction.
Have an outstanding day, week, month and year. God bless, press on.