Decisions, Decisions: Couch or Treadmill?
I’M THE FIRST TO ADMIT IT: I’m a high-energy person. But for years, I lived in a state of per- petual drain. My life was one have-to after another, and I couldn’t even brush my teeth without mentally running through my list. Sleep? Forget it. I spent my pillow time com- pletely in my head, strategizing about tomorrow.
Today’s lifestyles are excellent energy drainers. Facebook alone can suck you dry in no time. Add in a few annoying phone calls, an unfinished to-do list, a couple of grouchy kids, and a school board meeting—you’re fried and heading straight to the drive-thru!
Can you relate?
As a coach, I’ve found that energy is at the crux of all diet-and-exercise success or failure. You may have great intentions to go for that walk, prep your meal for the next day, or sign up for that workout class, but you’ll never get there when you spend too much energy on tasks that rattle you or that aren’t in line with your priorities. If you’re a quiet Planner who just had to spend the day hosting an office party, you’re a zombie. If you’re a Lead- er forced to sit down with a pile of paperwork, someone will have to peel you off the desk. And when you get up, I know exactly where you’re going—straight to the Cinnabon counter!
And that’s another reason why we’re all in an energy crisis. Because this is the 21st cen- tury, most of our energy drains are mental, not physical. In its way, an hour in traffic is as draining as an hour pushing a plow, but it’s the kind of drain that craves a glass of wine instead of a well-deserved rest. Which means that at the end of a typical modern day, you’re exhausted, you’re reaching for the bag of cookies and the remote, and you’re kicking yourself for being “lazy”! You can’t win!
When you’re in a state of perpetual drain, it’s hard to see a way out. In The Power of Full Engagement, Tony Schwartz writes that “energy is the fundamental source of all positive action,” but it doesn’t feel that way when your energy is spent wiping
peanut-butter smudges off your kid’s dresser or looking up your ex on Facebook. So how do you use your energy effectively? How do you put yourself into forward motion instead of a perpetual tailspin?
Well, the solution is not found in a can of Red Bull.
It’s found in balance.
You need to expend enough energy to feel strong and competent and in control, and you need enough restoration to feel serene and ready for action.
So in this chapter we’re going to take a closer look at what blocks your energy and gives you easy ways to renew it. Don’t settle for survival mentality, running on fumes while chasing your to-do list. Aim to thrive, to spend your energy on the things that feed your spirit. You’re worth it!
Where does the energy go?
First, you have to know where you spend your energy. Here’s why:
Energy is also like money. If you don’t track it, you never know how or where it gets spent, and you’re always at risk of losing it. If you spend it wisely, you reap benefits and have something to show for it: a healthy life, a completed marathon, a finished book, a happy heart.
Your most valuable asset is your attention. Your attention is what you can con- trol—and where you spend your attention is where you spend your energy. If you focus on actions that mean something to you, you automatically have more energy. And believe me, the energy shots that come from within are a whole lot more ef- fective than the ones you buy at 7–11!
Schwartz said, “To maintain a powerful pulse in our lives, we must learn to how to rhyth- mically spend and renew energy.” The strategies below will help you do just that. They’ll help you close the gap between who you are and who you want to be.
So let’s get started. Take a look at the Time Audit you created for yourself in the previous chapter. You’ll see fairly clearly how your day—and your energy—is divided into four main categories:
- Work 2) Family 3) Rest/Recovery 4) Self-Care
This is an excerpt from The Right Fit Formula.