To Make Your Dreams Come True, Try Resting

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Lisa is a freelance writer, consultant and life coach. She has her BA in English and Creative Writing from Princeton and her MPA from Harvard. Lisa recently finished the first draft of her book manuscript, Burning Down the House. Her dream is to publish this first book and teach the world how to discover their hidden joy. Her post day is Tuesday.
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Last week was a happy blur.

It was a whirlwind week, full of meetings, client deadlines, writing, workouts, dancing, time with friends. It would have been easy, with all the looming deadlines, to just work, work, work.

To forget to play. Or to rest.

Now, let me clarify that I did not actually manage to get a lot of sleep last week ~ in fact, I was somewhat sleep-deprived. But I did rest.

I cultivated a space of resting and peacefulness while working on my goals and multiple deadlines… reminding myself to slow down, breathe, enjoy.

As a result, I was productive, happy, relaxed.

Enjoy The Ride.
In the midst of all the busy-ness, I managed to remember – and implement – one of my key life philosophies – that having fun matters. That we are here not only to reach our goals, but to enjoy the ride.

Luckily, much of my work is also fun for me, so that helps.

This past week I led meetings to help my little city of Troy, New York win ultra-high-speed broadband from Google (, organized a birthday party, lunched with my best friend at a downtown Indian restaurant, went out 80s dancing.

That, in the midst of many deadlines.

And, I met with my writing coach to move my book forward. I’d been feeling stuck and needed her wisdom.

Ellen reminded me that writing a book is a process, a journey. That it may take many drafts until my book is as polished as I like, until it achieves my final vision.

She suggested thinking of my current writing as simply writing “scenes” vs. “writing a memoir,” which feels bigger and scarier. Just focus on diving in and making each scene vivid.

“You have to give yourself permission to allow it to be a work in progress,” she said.


I could say the same about myself, and my life…

Letting Go of “Perfect”
Sometimes the “recovering perfectionist” in me wants my life to be completely “perfect” NOW – whatever perfect means.

And yet the truth is, it’s a journey, and I’ll never “get it all right” all at once… So I might as well enjoy the process.

Resting for Results
Luckily, during my busy week, I also stumbled upon some words of wisdom from life coach Martha Beck, a personal hero of mine. She talked in her email newsletter this week about “resting in order to get results.”

Love this!

She talked about her experiences with a teacher named Dan Harmon who has developed a technique called “intentional resting.”

Here are some of the steps he recommends:

  1. Scan your body and find an area where you’re holding pain, discomfort or tension.
  2. Silently give your stressed-out location the suggestion to “rest.” Continue to invite it to rest for at least 30 seconds.
  3. Notice any changes that accompany the invitation to rest. No right or wrong answer – just observe.

Beck goes on, “Then, you can begin to apply this to non-physical aspects of yourself. Try stating, ‘I am resting for my fear now; I am resting for my perfectionism now; I am resting for troubled past now; I am resting for my future now.'”

You can try this for something you want to manifest as well, Beck suggests: “I am resting for the friends I am about to meet now; I am resting for my bank account now; I am resting for my good luck now.”

Counter-Intuitive Methods Sometimes Work!
This may seem like a strange way to achieve your goals, yet I’ve been practicing it all week and have been SO relaxed. I am resting for my book. I am resting for my deadlines. I am resting for my fun fabulous life.

As Beck says, “Whatever it is you hope to attract, add a little twist by resting rather than forcing the result. The worst that can happen is a wonderful feeling.”

Amen for that wonderful feeling.

Try it on this week!


Lisa_avatar(Lisa has launched her dream by signing up for Ellen Sussman’s “Memoir-in-a-Year” class, speaking her story out loud at a Take Back the Night rally, and committing to a regular writing schedule – 50 pages completed by December 5th, when she also turned in her first book chapter! She just achieved another milestone – 100 pages completed by February 6th! Being invited to join was a dream come true, and she looks forward to chronicling her writing process. Lisa is currently bi-coastal with her home in historic Troy, New York and her heart in San Francisco.  Lisa’s post day is Tuesday).


  • H

    Ah, I need to be enjoying the ride – instead of thinking work work work. Thank you for all your uplifting posts Lisa. I can’t wait to see you again and share all the laughs we will have with the new ladies. ~H

  • Rachel

    Hey, Lisa. I love it that you post how “You have to give yourself permission to allow it to be a work in progress,” the day after my PT post (inspired by you, of course) about the lure of “having it all”.

    Sorry to hear you’ve been feeling stuck, but how great that you have the writing coach — and dancing! — to help you through it.

    I’ve been on enforced rest since my knee surgery 2 weeks ago. (One thing I’ve already learned is if I overdo it one day, just trying to do some normal stuff, I pay for it the next.) But even just sitting here isn’t always restful when I’m in pain or very uncomfortable. Interestingly enough, the steps you mentioned are just what I’ve been doing to deal with those times:
    # Scan your body and find an area where you’re holding pain, discomfort or tension.
    # Silently give your stressed-out location the suggestion to “rest.” Continue to invite it to rest for at least 30 seconds.
    # Notice any changes that accompany the invitation to rest. No right or wrong answer – just observe.

    Other than the verbal cue, it’s exactly what I’ve been doing at my worst times. Just recognizing where I’m holding unhelpful tension cues me to let it go, and I can feel the relief of that, even when I’m in pain.

  • Colleen Du Bois

    Hi Lisa,

    Thanks for sharing some great motivational tips ! As a bit of a perfectionist myself I have actually deliberately decided to use the writing process to challenge that behaviour by encouraging the words to simply flow with little editing until I have said what I feel I need to. It takes a conscious effot to actually allow myself to relax into the process…which is a bit of a contradaction really isn’t it ? For now it seems to be working. I actually find now that writing for pleasure is one of the areas of my life that I can allow myself to “rest” into, with little pressure.

    I agree with the advice about simply writing the “scenes” whch is exactly how I am approaching the collation of stories for my own memoir. When asked how I am working through it I usually just reply “Oh, I’m just writing out the memories in small bite sized chunks !”.

    Best of Luck


  • Julita Cinguina


    sounds like you had a fun week and you are living your dreams. I am so happy for you. so proud you are making your dream come true. just great to see you so full of life and energy and so happy!

    sometimes I can see that there are a great many people who are not as fortunate.

    Today I found out that one of my daughter’s friends mother committed suicide. This woman was almost 50 years old, with 5 children, the youngest was my daughter’s age, a freshman in High School. I wonder what was so terrible about this woman’s life that she decided to no longer live?

    her daughter said that her mother would tell her that she was just always so busy and needed time alone, time to rest and get away from it all.

    and now she is gone.

    reading your post makes me realize that we all need to find that area where we’re holding pain, and allow it to rest. there is no reason to suffer so much.

    for me personally, I believe in God. I trust in God and know that God loves me, that I am never alone, that God will help me find a way to deal with my pain.

    and I will say a prayer for my daughter’s friend Amanda, who no longer has a mother to love her. and I will pray for all of my friends and family, God Bless you, Lisa.

  • Cath, LOVE THAT!!!! None of us can rock *ALL* the time. I love it that he says if you do it for five minutes a day, you’re ahead of much of the world… Makes me feel better. :)

    *Breathes sigh of relief*

    *Rests in that*


  • Catherine, Site Admin

    I am just going to quote Seth Godin’s entire post called, You Rock:

    You Rock

    This is deceptive.

    You don’t rock all the time. No one does. No one is a rock star, superstar, world-changing artist all the time. In fact, it’s a self-defeating goal. You can’t do it.

    No, but you might rock five minutes a day.

    Five minutes to write a blog post that changes everything, or five minutes to deliver an act of generosity that changes someone. Five minutes to invent a great new feature, or five minutes to teach a groundbreaking skill in a way that no one ever thought of before. Five minutes to tell the truth (or hear the truth).

    Five minutes a day you might do exceptional work, remarkable work, work that matters. Five minutes a day you might defeat the lizard brain long enough to stand up and make a difference.

    And five minutes of rocking would be enough, because it would be five minutes more than just about anyone else.”

    And what is a lizard brain you might ask?

    The lizard brain is our resistance. This resistance is the voice in the back of our head telling us to back off, be careful, go slow, compromise. The resistance is writer’s block and fear and every project that ever shipped late because people couldn’t stay on the same page long enough to complete it.

    Seth also says, “The resistance grows in strength as we get closer to shipping, as we get closer to an insight, as we get closer to the truth of what we really want.”

    I just thought he could say it better than I could. I like your way of dealing with the lizard brain with intentional resting.

    Can’t wait until we see you again.