When Real Work Infiltrates My Dreams

I hate it when I dream about work.   And I’ve been dreaming about work a lot lately.

Usually, in dream-world I enjoy the free floating randomness of my mind.  Nothing is logical when I replay it in the bright light of morning, but in the dark of night the non-sequitor action sequences and the cast of characters that meander through are entertaining… freeing.

When I start dreaming about work… well, to me that says that there’s too much being left undone in my day life. Unproductive meetings of the day are replayed, but in Kubrick-esque circumstances.  Debates with coworkers take on Allen-type ridiculousness and unresolved arguments fester in absurdity.  The coffee machine only dispenses Bloody Marys.  I hate Bloody Marys.

These aren’t really nightmares, mind you, but they feel that way when I wake up.  Because it means I never left work. Even in those precious hours that I had total freedom to muster up any kind of insanity I wanted, my mind pulled me back to a day at the office.

And the result?  No rest.  I have not escaped the worries of the office, merely transformed them into a Burton-like world where I am haunted by both the reality and the irrationality.

Work dreams occur when I allow two things to happen:

  1. I don’t resolve the issues I am dealing with in the office
  2. I don’t make the time to recharge myself in a healthy way

So I know what I have to do to escape the work-laden overnight adventures.

Deal with work at work.

Sometimes this is easier said than done.  But the more I let unresolved conflicts chafe without pursuing a solution, the more my mind makes up stories to fill in gap, makes assumptions about other’s motivations, and creates multiple scenarios that bring me no closer to a true end game. Whether it’s a disagreement with a coworker, meeting or missing a deadline or renegotiating an agreement, the longer it waits the more opportunity it has to wreak havoc with my mind.

Replenish, refuel, regain.

Whether I skip a run or skip the veggies, I feel it.  When I let work deplete my internal resources and don’t follow up with my own strategies for refilling them, then I’m not bringing my best self to the office.  Or home, for that matter.  You have to find ways to replenish your strength, refuel your passion and regain your perspective. There are countless articles on how important it is to take care of yourself so I won’t lecture here… but if you want the restless dreams to dissipate, this is a must.

I know I need to reset.  In last night’s dream, I set my coworker up on a date with a friend of mine, which in real life would be difficult since they live in different states and are, in reality, married to other people.  Another coworker was crying because she felt her boss didn’t value her work anymore.  She was sniveling over my laptop and I wanted to comfort her but I needed to drape baby wipes over the keys to prevent infection. I decided to hold my next team meeting at a crowded bar at 10pm at night.  Amid the shouting over the din and the multiple mai tais, we decided to introduce our next product with a Muppet theater extravanganza.  My boss transferred me to an office in Georgia – totally unrelated to the Muppet-themed product launch, of course.

See why I need to deal with things in my real world?  Because my dream world is not just chaos…it’s not even fun anymore.

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