Artwork by Ana Miminoshvili.

What if it didn’t matter how productive you were today?

In this episode, I take a deep dive into a concept that I call “tender discipline,” which is the practice of taking a gentler attitude toward your productivity.

I open the conversation with an explanation of why we get so obsessed with our ability to produce, or not produce, and how we can begin to unspool this mindset. Instead, embracing a new approach where we trust our innate energetic rhythms, work ethic, and goodness. Then, I take questions from listeners about how to invite more tender discipline into our days.

Key takeaways from this conversation:

  • How to be tender with yourself when you’re procrastinating
  • Why now is a good time to cling less tightly to our goals
  • How an “inputs retreat” can help you recover from burnout
  • Why it’s a good idea to make a “keep doing” list
  • How to feel like you’re doing “enough”

Favorite Quotes

“Tender discipline pushes back against this whole suite of ideas that have been embedded in us by our capitalist culture, about speed and efficiency and progress. And it pushes back against the idea that when we’re doing a task, the best way to do it is to get from here to there as quickly as possible. And then when you get there, you damn well better have a product to show for it. Just being you isn’t enough. It’s what you produce, that matters. That’s what capitalist culture teaches us. That we don’t have inherent value. That we have value only when we produce things.”

“We live in this culture that is all about hustle, that’s all about exponential scale, all about hockey stick-like growth. We’re surrounded by a culture that says that it’s never enough. So we have these really outsize expectations and messages that we’re constantly receiving about what enough is at every level.”

“We know it’s time to plant the seeds for a new world, for a new normal. And that starts, at home on a daily level, in our minds, with our internal dialogue, the way that we talk to ourselves, the way we move through our day. That’s where the ability to sustain ourselves starts. It starts with developing tender discipline with ourselves — with finding a balance between pouring our hearts into our work while also creating space for rest and renewal.”


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The articles and ideas that I mention in this epi:

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