Impactful Learnings in Purpose, Energy, and Rhythm

How our business’ pivot has evolved our energy management, creating forward momentum using the metaphor of rhythm.

Poet & Scribe
10 min readFeb 3


The article title and byline — “Impactful Learnings in Purpose, Energy, and Rhythm,” by Jonathan and Sandra — on a line-drawn, illustrated smartphone screen. It takes 10–13 minutes to read and/or listen to.”
The article title and byline — “Impactful Learnings in Purpose, Energy, and Rhythm,” by Jonathan and Sandra — on a line-drawn, illustrated smartphone screen. It takes 10–13 minutes to read and/or listen to.”

It’s been one month since we decided to pivot our business & began to action the change, moving the business towards leadership coaching & management consulting. This reinvigorated purpose energizes us, guiding towards clearer goals — so much so that we’ve been able to work continuously & consistently for the past 4 weeks!

We know this change is a good one, not only because of this achievement, but because of how difficult the journey’s been to get here. Between the pandemic throwing off all regular routines & habits, starting a business, and continuing the indeterminate limbo of waiting for a marriage visa: this is a small accomplishment we’re proud of.

While calibrating Poet & Scribe’s purpose has provided a better foundation, we’ve been purposely reflecting on what we’re doing now.

  • Question: “What can we learn in the space & time we have together; knowing we won’t be here for long, but still needing to get things done?”
  • Answer: We can manage our energy, experimenting with rhythm & routines that satisfy our needs.

§ Energy

To understand our own energy, we’ve listed factors that influence & affect our energies. We actively used Spoon Theory — an analogy of what it is like to live with sickness or disability — as a framework for “measuring” our energy’s givers & takers.

“…everything everyone else does comes so easy, but for me it is one hundred little jobs in one. I need to think about the weather, my temperature that day, and the whole day’s plans before I can attack any one given thing. When other people can simply do things, I have to attack it and make a plan like I am strategising a war”

Christine Miseradino; Spoon Theory; 2003

We lightly catalogued what affects the “number of spoons” we have in a day. The impact daily activities & tasks have for one day can limit how much we can do the following days. Our goal has been to consistently “get shit done” each day; an exercise that’s proved invaluable.

Energy Influencers

  • Sleep
  • Food
  • Movement
  • Body-feel
  • Mind-feel
  • Heart-feel
  • Environment
  • Psychosocial needs
  • Culture of Place
  • Specific goals & tasks
  • Alignment with Purpose
  • Feeling of Progress

We won’t go into depth of each Influencing Factor, but will highlight three that have effected us the most and, when addressed, have had the largest impact with improved process & flow.


Historically, we’ve been bad at sleep. It’s one of the most natural, basic things one does as an animal, how can you do it wrong?!

We weren’t sure what we were doing wrong for the longest time. To learn more about the science of it all, we started to research, discovering Alie Ward had an Ologies episode about sleep! If you’re interested, we highly recommend checking out Somnology with Dr. W. Chris Winter; and one of her newer episodes about the science of dreams, Oneirology with Dr. G. William Domhoff!

In pursuit of our own personal research, we like data to measure and understand things about ourselves, we’ve been using the Oura Ring. It’s been one of the best and most accurate sleep monitoring tools we’ve used over the years. While we learned a lot as the world was quarantined throughout most of 2020 and 2021, the times have changed, we’ve changed; things are different now and we needed to re-learn.

Two personal screenshots, showing some data provided by the Oura Ring app from one night’s rest in April 2020. The left shows the variables that contributed to sleep — total sleep time, efficiency percentage, restfulness, time spent in REM/Deep sleep stages, latency, and timing. The right details the Total Sleep Time as a timeline, breaking down the sleep by time spent in each stage or type of sleep: Awake, REM, Light, and Deep.

It not only provides us with the data that helps frame how we slept the night before, but it gives us the gift of understanding how we need to adjust our day to our sleep needs.

If we slept well: “YAY! That’s great! What happened the day & night previously that helped? Did we eat too late, delaying when we could sleep? How did alcohol affect it?”

If we slept badly: “Aw, shucks. We can do better tonight. How do we adjust what we need to do today?”

We understand certain tasks won’t be the best things to do on bad sleep-days. We adjust, change to something that matches our capacity, and aim for a better night’s sleep.


Another lesson hard-learned during Quarantine Times was the need for daily movement. It’s easy to sit all day, working on the computer, move to the other side of the couch to relax after work, then head to bed.

We need the daily movement: to stretch, to get the blood flowing, to stave off back pain with intentional motion. Our bodymind — the interdependence & inseparability of mental and physical processes — works better if we’re varying our activities throughout the day. We’ve tried things like the Pomodoro Technique, but find it too disruptive when we’re in our flow-states.

We also acknowledged movement’s import as transitions between tasks, like walking to’n’fro from our work-cafe. If we’re working at the current place-we’re-staying, we do a 10–30 minute walk around the block, physically shifting “into the mindset” for work. At the end of the day, we walk again, “leaving work” and mentally transitioning towards the evening’s activities.


In our current situation, we have neither control of our home-working environment, nor do we have access to our work equipment — desks, monitors, personal space, etc. This lack of control and “sameness of place” kept us from creating any consistent routines.

We’ve had to get out of the house and work in a café.

However…working in a small town an hour or so outside of Barcelona doesn’t have a high availability of many work-cafe’s. The first work week of 2023 had us in search of a café that resembles the energy & vibes in cities like we’ve had in Amsterdam and Raleigh.

The last one we visited in our search — 10 minutes walk from the house — has been a fantastic find. It not only has good wifi, a good working environment, good food & drink; it transports us back to Amsterdam. When we’re there we briefly forget the weariness of circumstance, able to live in future possiblities than situationally stuck. This change of Place provides an environment where we can mentally, emotionally, and spatially do better work.

If you’re ever needing to find a work-cafe in Premià de Mar, Barcelona, check out XD Port Premia! It’s a creperia just 20 minutes walk from the train station. We can’t recommend it enough; and are grateful to have found such a spot.

The lesson: never underestimate the power of Place.

§ Rhythm

From years of attempting to create new habits or routines, we understand that “just deciding” to do something — repetitively, day over day — is not just difficult to do, but sometimes down-right impossible.

For us, a guiding metaphor for developing routines has been Rhythm. It’s about pacing the day, building momentum in the week, listening to our abilities & needs, using them to determine what becomes a rhythm. It’s about understanding the beats & meter intervals of repetition: individually, shared, where we are, and where we want to go.

As life & business partners creating a “freelance” business for the first time, we’ve had to listen & communicate our individual rhythms, trying to find a shared melody. We know this after leading teams & organizations for 10+ combined years: adjusting team rituals based on who we’re working with and how everyone fits together. Doing it for ourselves — where we have control over our time & routine in a way we have never had in the corporate office — is a big adjustment.

Individual rhythms

We may be partners, but we’re very different people, with separate rhythms & needs, each with 30+ years of life & habits. We have different needs in terms of sleep, amount of movement, way of thinking, when to get together for explicit communication, when to put our earphones on, or when to work individually, together.

This has required us to level-up our transparency & open communication in daily work life. The beginnings & ends of days are bookended by a question & check-in, “How’s your body feeling? Mind? Heart?” If something is not going well — or even if it is — the follow up is, “What do you need?”

Explicit & open communication has been an essential note to understanding our individual rhythms. We respond, taking the time to answer, giving words to our inner selves.

Shared rhythms

As we’ve become more aware & explicit about our individual rhythms, we’ve had to negotiate. How do we, as individual parts, work together to create a whole?

We don’t always have to be together, doing the same thing, or even on the same page about something. Sometimes we’ll combine & come out working in a way resembling improvisational jazz. Other times, we may lean more towards the live coordination of dance, acting, and singing of musicals.

We have to extend the kindness and understanding to & of each other, that their needs are different as ours. Even then, things don’t always go as planned. But, that’s the trick & beauty of performance: the audience may not see the mistakes that are visible to you; keep going with the flow.

We keep trying; with a belief that even with a hiccough, we can make things work.

Local rhythm

A stark challenge in this remote work environment has been the differing rhythms of the local geographic area. For the past couple of months, we’ve been living & working in Premià de Mar, Barcelona, Spain. Working hours here are vastly different than our past decade of experience in the Netherlands, and what we see & expect in North Carolina.

For context, the day is divided into 3–4 stages:

  • 0800–1300: the first part of the work day
  • 1300–1700: almost all shops & services close for a long “lunch” break. If there are any errands to run, there may be one grocery store open; apart from cafe’s, that’s it.
  • 1700–2100: Most shops & services open back up
  • 2100–2300: Dinner begins anywhere in this time range
  • Friday nights: it’s not uncommon for “going out” to mean meeting up with a group at midnight, dancing till 0600 the next morning.

After concentrating for sustained periods of time and breaking to prepare/eat/clean-up our midday meals — personally — our brains tend to lose their concentration power between 1700–1800. Waiting until our “normal” leaving work time to begin the “second shift” has been a local rhythm that actively works against us.

While we may better understand our energy givers & takers, individual rhythms, and shared rhythms, the local Spanish rhythm remains abrasive & disruptive — for us. We do know this is an aspect of our current way of working that we do not want in future life rhythms.

Knowing what you don’t want is a good step towards understanding what you do.

We’ll take that learning as a win.

Desired rhythm

One part of our work’s orchestration has been the mismatch between our current “normal” and what life will be in the future. Is it a waste to spend the time developing a rhythm in one location when we’ll inevitably have to start anew, somewhere else, with different rhythms? It takes so much time & energy to create a sustainable habit; if we did that here, would it be a waste? It’s been easy to ask the question, “Why bother?”

By changing that prompting question we’ve been able to re-frame what we want our desired rhythm to be.

  • Question: “What can we learn in the space & time we have together; knowing we won’t be here for long, but still needing to get things done?”
  • Answer: We can manage our energy, experimenting with rhythm & routines that satisfy our needs.

We understand we’ll have to learn & re-learn some of these things — as individuals, partners, and people living in a different environment. It’ll all be disrupted in the short & long runs. We’ve used — and continue to use — this time as daily experimentation: finding what works, what doesn’t, what we would like to keep, and what we don’t want to keep.

We will never get our desired rhythm now; it’s an unachievable goal. We’re without our home, our space, our dog, our “new” lives.

In the mean time, we can learn. We can be more prepared to get into the groove when we finally are together.

§ Summary & Conclusion

Pivoting has played a pivotal part in our business’ story, but it didn’t end with an announcement of, “we’re changing!” then change is complete. As we’ve worked with our first clients, as we’ve been creating systems & structures for change, we’ve continued doing the hard, inner-work.

In purposeful use of the space & time we’re at, we’ve given ourselves space to learn and manage our energies, creating rhythm that drives momentum.

We continue learning from & seeking out others doing similar work as: helping individuals & businesses through coaching and consulting. Two entrepreneurs have been motivated us to understand & establish these rhythms:

  • Ev Chapman helps “creators build, share & monetise their knowledge by using simple, sustainable systems.” Ev’s content has been influential in understanding, from a more human & centered area, how daily rituals & “boring systems” are needed to build an audience for business.
    You can find her content via her website, her links page, or on Instagram.
  • Vanessa Lau helps “content creators, coaches, & corporate escapees build businesses they’ll never need an escape from.” Vanessa’s story of “where she started” to “where she is today” is one we’d like to share ourselves someday, building a team of our own, as we grow & help more people.
    You can find her content via her website, her links page, or on Instagram.

So far, we’re proud of where we are today — and where we’re going — not by moving from limiting mindset to a growth mindset, nor by staying in an analysis paralysis. We’ve gotten here because we’ve started more intimately listening to ourselves, communicating with each other, and finding what works in the here & now.

We live; we learn; and we keep moving forward.



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