“If people are going to be peak performers, they have to know how to change their energy state.”—Ken Blanchard
Nothing saps my energy like paperwork. Unless it’s a computer problem. When your computer balks at installing the latest release of your favorite software or crashes several times a day, that’s the absolute biggest energy drainer of all.
… Unless, of course, you get caught in a traffic jam where there are no exits to escape and you have an important deadline. That produces high stress and is the absolute biggest energy drainer of all.
… Unless, of course, you work with a complainer who carps all day about the weather in New Zealand, the weeds around the swimming pool,and her Aunt Winnie. That’s the absolute biggest energy drainer of all.
… Unless, of course, well . . . I guess almost anything can drain your energy under the wrong circumstances.
So we all need a way to plug the leak from time to time. Don’t wait until the end of the day, week, or month to realize that you’re exhausted beyond belief—until you’re yelling at the people around you, until you make a short-sighted decision, or until you end up in the ER.
Instead, make it a practice to re-engineer your energy. That is, list the things that give you energy and things that drain your energy. My list includes the following:
What Gives Me Energy
Hiking in the woods
Reading a great book
Having someone ask my advice
Hearing a comedy act
Compliments about my books
Selecting knickknacks for the house
Discussing characterization in a movie
Attending worship services
Speaking to an eager audience
Visiting people in a different culture
Reading funny greeting card verses
What Drains My Energy
Waiting in service or checkout lines
Following up on myriad small details
Meeting constant deadlines
Worrying that someone on staff is unhappy
Trying to finding a computer glitch
Observe your own moods and energy levels, and make your own list. Then plan how you can structure more energy-inducing items, activities, or images into your day-to-day life.
For my husband, watching a good TV western or working in the garden adds that sense of renewal. Speaker friends of mine report taking scented candles and nail-care items to treat themselves to a luxurious bath-and-beauty rituals on the road while they’re in strange hotels on the other side of the world.
Former neighbors of mine in Boulder, Colorado, used to enjoy a pajama party on Saturday nights when their children were still preteens. Everyone changed into pajamas so they could do the family laundry, they concocted home-made pizza, and they watched recorded episodes of their favorite reality TV shows.
Most families have holiday rituals that add nostalgia to specific occasions. But why wait for the holidays? You need energy to re-engage almost daily—or at least I do.
Notice those things that frazzle your patience and sap your energy; find ways to end them as fast as possible.
Likewise, become aware of those rituals that add a spark to your step, and work them into your routine more often. With self-awareness, you understand the cause for a pause and can add energy for excellence.