Energy is everything in life! Without heightened and sustained levels of energy, all else will seem and feel harder. You will also accomplish less in the long term. Contrary to what most people think, it is energy management and not time management that most needs to be addressed in order to live a vibrant, fully engaged, meaningful and successful life.
But keep in mind that it is not just your physical energy that you need to manage, it is also your emotional, mental and spiritual energy. Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz discuss these different energies in brilliant detail in their book, ‘The Power of Full Engagement’. It has been a source of valuable information for me over the years!
Now, in the spirit of being energy efficient, let’s look at these different energies and how you can best manage and replenish them.
1. Physical Energy
We’re all familiar with physical energy. It enables you to do all of what needs to get done in a day…or not. What most drains your physical energy is poor nourishment, dehydration, insufficient sleep and lack of physical activity.
How can you improve and manage your levels?
- nourish your body with natural, whole food that will provide a steady, slow and sustainable release of clean energy
- hydrate your body with plenty of water (anywhere from 3 – 6 liters per day, depending on climate, body size and activity levels)
- get sufficient rest (at least 7 – 8 hours per night) – when you don’t your productivity goes down, focus and accuracy are negatively impacted, discipline goes down etc. just to mention a few consequences
- be active during the day – workout, take the stairs, take regular physically active breaks (every 50 – 90 minutes) – this in particular is scientifically proven to increase your energy levels and as a result make you more productive – so if you think you’re too busy to take a break every hour, think again – or in fact, don’t think – just do it
There is nothing new here. I know that but how many of you are consistently doing ALL of the above. Until you do, you will struggle to live fully engaged! So consider what the resistance is, what the challenges are and make a commitment to overcome them.
2. Emotional Energy
Emotional energy requires emotional flexibility. What does that mean? It means you’re able to appropriately access a range of emotions as opposed to being rigid, stuck and stubborn. What drains your emotional energy – not being your authentic self, not expressing your needs and thoughts, avoiding dealing with things and not taking responsibility for your actions and choices.
So what can you do better or differently?
- manage your physical health because when you are physically tired and drained it becomes much harder to manage your emotions
- choose and regularly engage in enjoyable activities – make time to play – this is your source of positive emotional energy and feelings which fuel performance
- confront negative emotions and situations by being open and honest with yourself and deal with them – any other choice will rob of you of your limited and precious energy
3. Mental Energy
This refers to your capacity to focus and concentrate for extended periods so you can power through your work; especially when you’d rather quit and do something else that is more fun and engaging. What most drains your mental energy, besides lack of sleep and poor nutrition? Worrying and not taking action, procrastination, lack of planning and scheduling, multi-tasking…
How can you improve and replenish your mental energy?
- focus on one task at a time – be 100% present with what you are doing
- eliminate distractions of any type – including emotional ones
- boost creativity by doing something fun or relaxing which will engage the more creative right hemisphere of the brain and provide the space for new ideas to emerge
- be decisive: indecision increases stress and anxiety and is a huge mental (and emotional) energy drainer
- at the same time limit the amount relatively mundane decisions you make each day so as not to unnecessarily deplete your limited mental energy. One way to do this is to develop daily rituals and routines. These are powerful tools to effectively manage energy capacity. For example, deciding the night before what you will have for breakfast eliminates that decision in the morning, putting out your workout clothes eliminates the decision as to whether you will workout or not etc. etc. All these seemingly minor decisions we make every day drains our mental capacity so the more automatic behaviors we can create and implement the better. In addition these rituals or habits can also help you to live in alignment with your core values and as a result fuel your Spiritual energy.
4. Spiritual Energy
“Spiritual energy is the source for motivation, derived from committing to others as well as ourselves.” This is often the most overlooked source of energy. It’s a conscious commitment to a set of personal values that provides you with your drive and motivation and a sense of purpose in life. It’s best viewed in terms of strength by helping you to stay connected to your deepest values, ethics and morals. Not having this is also what drains it!
How can you replenish and protect your spiritual energy?
- be motivated by something intrinsic and beyond your immediate self-interest
- have faith in what is happening FOR you in your life
- focus on gratitude and appreciation
- recognize that there is something much bigger than yourself that is directing your life
And finally, to manage, protect and replenish all of the above 4 energies, MEDITATE! The science is indisputable in regards to the multiple benefits experienced. Find a practice of meditation that works for you and be consistent in doing it!
As you begin to get all these areas handled and become consistent in your habits, “sit back’ and notice and appreciate how everything in your life will begin to shift. Things will look and feel different as you begin