We Have to Talk About Energy ManagementFeb 02, 2023
Our culture is obsessed with productivity and action. Sometimes our energy is focused and results in real and meaningful outputs. However, I would argue that much of what we spend time on does little to actually move us forward. Burnout and overwhelm seem to be a normal way of existing for many of us. But it does not need to be like this. Really. It doesn’t.
It is a choice we are making in every part of our lives. Look around, it seems to have infected every aspect of our life from home to work. The number of people who feel totally overwhelmed is increasing, and quickly. That feeling of being underwater and unable to find the surface for precious air. But for what? How much of what we are doing is in meaningful pursuit of our goals and dreams? I think many of us would say very little. We are working from habit, inertia, and momentum and the bottom line is this: if we continue to wait for some external force to bring us into balance, we will be left depleted with no relief in sight.
The tricky part of the world we live in is that there is never really enough. Enough time. Enough space. If we wait for things to slow down to come up for air, we will find ourselves perpetually out of breath. Many of our clients enter coaching with hopes of increasing productivity and learning hacks to get through their mounting emails. But there are no hacks. We find it is often better to accept we just simply cannot do it all. There is too much to be done, and it will most likely never really be done. The emails will keep coming in. In most cases, our jobs will take as much of ourselves as we will give them. You can see how this becomes a losing battle. In accepting our situation, we can begin to make intentional choices about how we spend our precious time and energy. This is called energy management and it is key to empowerment.
We would never expect to run a marathon by sprinting the first ten miles. We would run out of energy and ultimately not meet our goal. The same is true about life. If we try to go full speed all the time, we will lack the stamina to finish the race. Instead, we must consciously choose where to spend our time and energy. Sometimes we accelerate and others we slow down to a jog. We focus our energy into climbing the hill or pushing to finish the last quarter mile. You get it. We can’t sprint. Not the whole time. So what do we do?
Step One: Get clear on your goals.
What are you trying to create in your life?
What does success look like?
What values are you honoring with how you spend your time?
Is how you spend your time reflective of what is most important to you?
Step Two: Clearly define your boundaries.
What are you saying yes to? Anywhere you spend your time you are saying “yes”.
What are you saying no to? There is always a cost to saying no? Are you clear about what you are saying no to?
Are you able to protect your time and energy even when you disappoint someone?
What do you gain by holding and communicating your boundaries?
Step Three: Course Correct as needed.
How do I feel?
Does this need to be done? Does it need to be done by me?
Does it need to be said? Does it need to be said by me?
Is this in service of what I am trying to create in my life?
Is anyone asking me to ignore a boundary?
Once we begin to recognize that how we spend our time is a choice, we find surprising places where we can find space to breathe and keep ourselves in the race.