The Most Important Change You Can Make In The New Year.
With 2020 solidly in the rearview mirror many of us are hopeful that 2021 will be a year that brings about change for the better. It is around this time that I hear people setting goals with the hope that they will either improve themselves, bring more happiness to their lives or accomplish something specific. Time always seems to play a major role in these goals with people striving to spend more time working out, hanging out with their kids/family or incorporating a hobby they love back into their lives. Time management is very important, but I am going to go out on a limb here and tell you that learning to manage our personal energy is actually the key to achieving most of what we want. Think about it- how many times have we carved out time to spend with our family and while following through with it we find ourselves still focused on something else, too tired to be present, thus robbing us of the enjoyment of the experience. The time was there, but what was missing was enough energy.
Mismanaging our energy is not only bad for the quality of our interactions with others but it also negatively impacts our health. Increased resting heart rate and blood pressure, disturbed sleep, depression and a weakened immune system are just a few of the possible negative effects of allowing our energy to be drained on a consistent basis.
Learning to better manage our energy is also critical to avoiding burnout in high stress jobs, and the key to improving our focus, quality of work and ability to be fully present in all that we do. Protecting our energy is not about being selfish, but about balancing our needs with the needs of the world around us so we are able to give our best to everyone and everything that we want to.
By far, the most important tip in managing our personal energy is to allow ourselves to refill our tank at regular intervals throughout the day. Our society is unfortunately geared to admire overwork. Seen as a badge of honor, this practice only leads to one place: burnout. Burnout is where you feel unmotivated, constantly fatigued, resentful and eventually hopeless. We make more mistakes in our work and become harder to get along with as all of our energy is being channeled into just making it through another day. Study after study has been done demonstrating the benefits and effectiveness of building short breaks into our day. You’d be surprised what a 15 minute break here and there can do for you- especially if we use that break with some of the tips listed below.
Second only to refilling our tank in the art of energy management is setting boundaries. Setting boundaries in our lives (and sticking to them) is critical as it demonstrates that we see the value in protecting our energy, and the value in ourselves. As the saying goes, “You can’t give what you don’t have.” If we give all of our energy away we will have nothing left to help ourselves or anyone else at some point.
Setting boundaries is also an important tool in establishing healthy relationships. It’s been said that we teach others how to treat us. If we teach others that it’s ok to constantly show up late or take advantage of our generosity then we need to examine our part in perpetuating the situation. At that point a hard conversation with that person discussing boundaries may be in order.
Other ways to protect your personal energy:
limit the negativity you expose yourself to (negative people (energy vampires), news, social media, gossip, violent movies).
Take a walk/get some light exercise.
Eat nutritious food.
Have a good social circle filled with healthy relationships and people that bring you joy.
Build mindfulness into your day. Whether it’s a 3 minute meditation from Headspace, some diaphragmatic breathing or 15 minutes of yoga, taking time out to be mindful has been scientifically shown to benefit our emotional, physical and mental health.
Get enough sleep. The power of sleep is unmatched in it’s ability to restore and rejuvenate the human brain and body.
Just as you wouldn’t expect a car to run on 1 tank of gas for thousands of miles, neither should we expect our body and mind to work in tip top shape when we do not protect or replenish our fuel source. Give yourself the best chance of success in meeting your 2021 goals and start by examining the ways in which you handle your energy.
For more information contact me at Kat@thepowerofchange.net