Are you usually more tired or inspired? Energized or drained? Doing daily what you love best or groaning out of bed to the same old same old?
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Nobody can ever be “always energized” or “always drained”, can they? And neither are we necessarily at the extreme ends of this spectrum, but usually find ourselves somewhere in between. And we all fluctuate across these two positions, largely depending on what seems to be happening in our lives at any given period of time, don’t we? Of course many of us are better equipped than others to deal with significant challenges that can cause us to drift into and out of each from time to time.
Life is busy, particularly work life and also trying to balance work and life. I encounter more and more business people (irrespective of whether they are business leaders, owners, professionals, contractors or employees) that are just plain tired. Often I find them also in, or approaching overwhelm. There are very few that seem to be able to transcend that consistently and continuously be seen more often than not with an “energized spark”.
If I were to ask someone that really knows you well over a long period of time, what might they say best describes you across this spectrum, most of the time?
However, I have found a few common traits that appear to enable the one taking precedence over the other in more cases than not. As I said in the heading – what makes it so? That’s what I’d like to address in this week’s blog.
What’s your Purpose?
One of the primary differences I have found between people largely more energized than drained was that they had a purpose; something they were chasing; something that drove them. I am well known for saying that: “when a dog is in the hunt, it has no time to search or scratch for fleas, because its only purpose at that time, is to catch the prey. But isn’t it remarkable what “fleas” we can all come up with when we have no purpose?”
Since I left working in the corporate space after a 35+ year career as an executive, and reinvented myself as an executive life coach, I can tell you that I have never felt more sustainably energized in my entire life. Why? Because today I’m doing what I love best – what I was born to do.
Doing What You Love Best?
And so a key differentiator between energized or drained is that we are doing what we love doing and doing what we are best and most talented for.
Think about it, it isn’t hard to get into doing something you love, is it? Particularly if it is something you do well and that uses your strengths. Do you? Are you?
If I challenged you on a scale of 1 – 10, where 1 suggests an extremely low utilization of your strengths and 10 suggests you are using your primary strengths most of the time, how would you rate yourself? If you score below 5, how long do you think you can sustain that before “something breaks”?
Hence, if your role isn’t well matched to your skills and strengths, that can be quite challenging (and also quite boring), can’t it? And very often that transcends into being draining too, doesn’t it?
Would you agree with me that a substantially larger proportion of people working or in business fall into this latter category? People that are living in a “settled for” situation, going through the motions every day, every week, every month and every year, just surviving instead of thriving? Often uninspired and often exhausted. Doing what they “have to do” because they need the income, and not doing what they “want to do”, and often also because they languish under the illusion that they have no choices.
I’m sure you could point to some such people right away, yes? Or if you are brutally honest, could that actually be applicable to you and your life too?
Working Smart versus Working Hard
Those doing what they love best and following their purpose doesn’t mean they aren’t busy. What my work with my clients has found is that they just seem to cope better having a solid purpose. Busy just forces them to be more effective; more productive.
They don’t just manage their time better; they also manage their energy better.
They have learned how to work smart. They don’t allow their ego to suggest they have to do it all themselves. They learn to delegate. They learn to outsource what others can do better, quicker or cheaper than they can. They maintain accountability but aren’t afraid to “let go” and delegate so they can keep what they do best for themselves. I have learned and seen how this feeds on itself and serves to energize those that do.
Just working hard ends up draining energy, which in my experience compounds the problem of a negative spiral over time. It is simply not sustainable.
In Control or Being Controlled?
Think about it – it isn’t hard to do something you love and look forward to, is it?
It doesn’t need planning or anything – it just gets done. Usually also effortlessly and easily.
But what about the “other stuff” we dislike, but have to do? Different story isn’t it?
It’s probably also true that the things you love are also the things you’re better at, right? Could that be suggesting then, that those you dislike may be some you are less good at?
And if you are a leader, then which of those you don’t do as well could you delegate to someone that is good at them, or let them learn and grow if they aren’t (yet)?
And then for what you’ve chosen to keep for yourself, why not mix them up and get a balance across the two, thereby allowing the ones you love, to energize you into tackling the ones you don’t?
And you know what I’ve found? If I plan them both across the coming week, the likelihood of them all getting done is increased many fold. How? By looking at what’s already in the diary for the week on Sunday night, filling the white spaces with tasks and activities from my to do and goals list and leaving enough space for the inevitable things that will emerge anyway. I find this form of “taking control” to be most energizing. Plus it removes a significant layer if stress and worry. How? Because once it is set I can forget about it until the diary reminds me that it’s time to do xyz. To me that was the most liberating not to have to carry all this “worry” around in my head.
You know that the majority of people in business don’t do this form of weekly planning, other than what’s already in the diary, don’t you? Can you sense how this will contribute towards draining energy over time, as you lose control? Could this possibly be true for you too?
Who Do You Surround Yourself With?
Another area that can contribute significantly to feeling drained, is when we are constantly surrounded by “draining people”; those that somehow just seem to suck the energy out of us. Unfortunately many of them can be found within our family, and we seem to think we have no choice.
Apart from our ability to “shake our conditioning”, I have learned that the next most powerful area of influence over ourselves is the company we keep. There is hardly a coaching program that doesn’t at some point have the client be reminded how vital our associations are. When someone is “down”, I urge them to find some people that “give them a lift” and over a period of time to develop a circle of friends and associates that are known to be “uplifting”. A great goal is also to become known as one such “uplifting person” oneself.
So let’s prepare a bit of an excercise together to help you position yourself in this spectrum, OK?
What if you created an awareness over the next few weeks in which time you identified and captured all of the situations and personal behaviours that triggered your feeling energized or drained or contributed towards your finding yourself energized or drained over a period of time?
What if you were then able to develop some new habits that have you planning each week more clearly in terms of leveraging what leads to you being energized and avoiding what leaves you feeling drained? And then monitoring and measuring how well you are doing during that week and certainly at the end of each week?
And what if you shared that goal with some of your friends or colleagues and you jointly developed such an awareness and held each other accountable? Don’t you think you would all benefit, as well as those around you (and dependent on you) feeling the spin off within your relationships with them?
You see, in all my personal development and all my coaching I have learned that being energized or drained is a choice. One that you have the power over. Please choose wisely.
And if you feel you need help, this is something extremely coachable. Please reach out and contact me and Let’s Talk Coaching.
In case you’re interested, here are a few more blog articles you’ll find valuable:
- So when you face a challenge
- What is your Purpose?
- Re-inventing Yourself