Along with time and money, energy is one of your most valuable resources. And if you’re a professional woman, it’s a resource that’s most likely in short supply. With the myriad number of professional and personal tasks you need to accomplish, while taking care of your family, you have very little – if any – energy left over for you. It’s easy to understand your dilemma.
Energy is defined as “having the internal or inherent power or capacity to act, operate or produce an effect.” Mental, physical and emotional energy is the fuel that drives your creativity, your thinking and your ability to take action. Energy drains limit your capacity to act and create. They also deplete the inspiration and motivation that is such a crucial part of a complete and balanced life.
Here are the top 5 sources of energy drain I see most often in my clients’ lives, as well as some suggestions for how to eliminate them.
Energy Drain #1: Keeping Details In Your Head, Instead Of In A System
Your brain, like a computer, only has so much RAM (random access memory). And RAM is mental energy. When you rely on yourself to remember your shopping list, your to-do list and your dentist appointment, it eats away at mental energy you could be using elsewhere to create a greater impact in your life.
It’s not that all those tasks aren’t important, but what if you had the mental energy to complete that major report, write your book or create a more powerful business strategy?
Think of each item you need to remember as an energy unit. How many energy units do you spend keeping details in your head? Find (or create) and begin using a system to track and remember things for you. Use it daily, and you’ll free up more mental energy to accomplish higher leverage projects and tasks.
Energy Drain #2: Making Assumptions and Taking Things Personally
Humans are exceptionally good at creating meaning. With every occurrence in our lives or every statement someone makes, we’re constantly asking: “what does that mean?” Sometimes meaning helps us to know where we stand, but much of the time the meaning we create is, frankly, an incorrect assumption. How many energy units go down the drain each time you second-guess the meaning of someone’s words, actions or inactions?
Think of the last time you spent an hour, a month, a year (or longer) having made the wrong assumption about an interaction with someone. How much energy did it cost you? The next time you find yourself making things up about someone’s words or actions, ask them for clarity so you can deal with the truth, and move on.
Energy Drain #3: Tolerating Friction In Your Environment and Relationships
The squeaky door. The leaky faucet. The tired paint color on your bedroom walls. By themselves, the energy drain is minor. Add them all up, however, and you have a gaping hole in your energy system. It’s time to clean it all up. Make a list of all the things in your home, office or car that you continually notice needing attention. Set aside some time and tick them off your list once and for all.
Likewise, when you tolerate a dysfunctional relationship or have unfinished business with anyone, you’re losing energy. Confront the relationship issues you have. Clean up unfinished business. If necessary, get support from someone who can help you negotiate such confrontations skillfully and responsibly. Think of the energy it takes to avoid someone versus the energy you’d gain in the long run having the issue cleared up.
Energy Drain #4: Disorganization
According to a USA Today report, Americans waste 9 million hours every day looking for misplaced items. Every time you can’t find your keys, you waste energy. Each time you have to shuffle through a stack of papers to find an important document you waste energy. Each time you feel like you’d be embarrassed to have a friend drop by, you are depleting your energy account.
The solution is simple. Get organized. Although it may seem a daunting task, what you’ll gain in energy and satisfaction is well worth the initial investment. Julie Morgenstern, the organizational goddess, recommends handling it in small chunks. Start with one room at a time. You’ve got to start somewhere. It’s well worth the effort for the feeling of peace and tranquility that an organized space offers.
Energy Drain #5: Taking Care Of Yourself Last
It’s been drilled into us. Meet everyone’s needs before your own. While taking care of our loved ones provides a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment, it also requires precious energy. In worse cases, it can even breed resentment – another huge source of energy drain.
A famous person once said, “Only give from an overflowing cup.” Try this on. What if your criteria for giving were based on how full your own cup was? In other words, you can only afford to give when you have an ample supply yourself.
What does it take to ensure a full cup? A good place to start is to follow the suggestions from the above four examples. You’ll begin accumulating a reserve of energy until you have plenty for yourself, as well as enough to give to others.
It’s YOUR life . . . live it completely!