Every day you have a list of things to do. These are things you want to do, don’t want to do, and other things you have to do. Regardless, all activities require energy and effort.
Many of the “don’t want to do, but have to” activities are what we call “energy-taking” activities: we exert energy to get them “done,” and then, that energy is gone. We have the action complete, and if related to work, we get “paid” (later!). These day-to-day efforts often leave us depleted, exhausted, and sometimes burned out without any immediate giveback.
Depletion and burnout exist because most of us do not have a “balance” of energy-taking with energy-giving activities. [This idea was at one time referred to as work-life balance. And as many of us know, this is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to achieve.]
I challenge you to adopt a new paradigm about all of this.
Let’s not make this about work vs. life, as this is the root cause of why we couldn’t achieve balance in the old thinking model. Most of us were committed to spending 80% or more of our time each day working. We were dedicated to success based on doing things, usually for money, reputation, power, authority, and rewards. This way of life depended on a relentless pursuit of goals and milestones that went on and on and required us to gladly take on more to prove we deserved the new scope, power, or title given at each stage of the game. I have been coaching people in corporate for 27 years. I know how this works; I helped create it. (Notice that I’m talking about this in the past tense, so we can leave it behind!)
My goal is to help you create a life that flips the old model on its head: more time doing things you LOVE with people you love (or at least like!). Consider a balance of effort and activity each day that includes things you want and LOVE doing AND other things you may not like but must do.
The things we love (or even just like) doing are energy-giving activities. The more energy-giving activities you prioritize, the more satisfied, optimistic, and joyful you will be with your life and work. The days of enduring a life of drudgery and settling are over.
Steps to getting you into this new way of thinking and living:
1. You have to know what you like and LOVE doing.
Here is a little tangent that is worth your attention:
I use the word YUMMY as my criterion for this exercise.
Yummy used to be a weird word that I didn’t go near. If you are the same, try it out. It might make you mad at first because you could discover that your life is devoid of yumminess. No really, that is what happened to me. Expending a lot of energy chasing things and people that were getting me nowhere, annoyed that I had to do everything if I wanted it done.
Lots of “have to’s.” That is why I’m here, to invite you to bring energy-giving, yummy, juicy goodness back into your life.
Here is a list of “How much do I LOVE this?” questions to use and consider as you review how you used your time in the last seven days:
Is this a joyful or at least a pleasant experience? Does this thing or person make me feel so good that I want to do it or be with them over and over?
Do I feel good about myself after?
Do I laugh out loud or cry with happiness?
Do I smile so much that my face hurts?
Do I get charged up?
When the task is complete, do I feel like I accomplished something?
Does this make me feel valued?
2. Next, raise your awareness of what it feels like to have your energy recharged.
Thinking again about the last seven days of activities, note what specific feelings you have when you receive energy, happiness, and/or feel accomplishment from a task or activity.
Do you also feel proud? Giddy? Excited?
Is this in your body or just in your head as a thought?
Do you feel relief?
Do you feel overwhelmed?
Do you want to celebrate? Or at least call your bestie?
3. Time to go to the “dark side” for a few minutes. Admit what you hate, dislike, or feel incompetent doing. This should be an easy exercise; make the list.
Notice the difference between something being annoying vs. drudgery vs. sucking your soul. (Funny, but not funny).
4. Lastly, identify the things you are continually “muscling through”- requiring an extra push- that is probably telling you it’s time for a change.
After these “auditing” activities, take a break. I would suggest you sleep on this before making any changes. Next, a day or so later, review the lists you have made.
Think about how you could reprioritize, filling your days with MORE energy-giving activities while reducing or eliminating the things that take energy from you without giving back.
If you have a list of things you LOVE, put them on your calendar. Prioritize them first. Steven Covey called them the “big rocks” and suggested that by placing the most important things (big rocks) on your calendar each month before you do anything else, you will quickly get in the habit of prioritizing and planning around them. When we wait and allow our day-to-day life and work to dictate our calendar and schedule, it is often difficult or impossible to squeeze in the big rocks later. And so, we don’t. I challenge you to do something each month that you love. (Attend a concert or live sports event, sign up for a cooking class, gather your friends for a wine tasting, etc.)
Now push yourself to identify something you can do daily that will give you energy.
Example: I walk my dog between Zoom calls.
It’s a little thing with many energy-giving wins for me: I go outside. I get my steps. I get to be with my dog. I clear my head. I do NOT take a phone with us. I am untethered! I instantly feel better with a new energy that is very different from the “drag” that video calls have on my entire being.
I challenge you to find one thing you commit to each day that recharges you and balances out the energy.
You can do this. With intention, planning, and some discipline, you can change the energy balance almost immediately.