Optimize Your Life

Episode #16: Reverse Your Energy Drains

Show Notes:

Hello and welcome back to the show where each week we focus on how you can become more optimal in your life. This week we are going to talk about energy drains: how to identify them and reverse them so you can boost your energy and be more intentional about how you show up in the world. 

The first question I’d like you to consider is how full is your battery when you wake up in the morning?

If you drink alcohol before bed, have anxiety that’s keeping you up, or just aren’t getting to bed early enough, you won’t wake up fully charged. 

I also want to share with you some information that I’ve written on this subject in my book, The 7E Solution to Burnout.

One of the most significant contributors to your lack of power is your mind. When you have negative thoughts or fears, you are less likely to take action and more likely to be avoidant.

An easy way to understand the importance of self-talk is to examine the influences of criticisms from others. Recall a time when you had your heart set on doing something you deemed meaningful and you told someone else about it. The other person did not share in your enthusiasm and, instead, criticized your idea or said you lack what it takes to be successful. Ouch! What this sort of narrative does is discourage you from persevering. So now imagine that this negative voice is your own. If you are telling yourself everything that could go wrong, how you will embarrass yourself if you fail, how it will be too difficult or take too long, chances are you will disengage. This negative headspace short circuits your opportunity to stretch yourself and test your limits.

When a task feels difficult or when the demands of the job seem excessive, you might find your mind overthinking, predicting catastrophes, and fearing failure. This self-deprecation leads to anxiety, which is energy depleting and, therefore, counterproductive. If you make excuses, you are just getting in your own way.

Perfectionism is another energy drain. It is an attitude of servitude because you are a slave to external circumstances. No matter how much you accomplish and how hard you try, it is never enough. It always feels like something is missing, like your outcomes are insufficient, and like there is a lot left to be desired.

If you are a perfectionist, you might believe that your needs come last, so you spend all your energy taking care of other people’s requests. When you are overloaded, you will not ask for help. You will not delegate tasks to others because you hold firm to the idea that you “should” do it all yourself. You also lose power when you focus externally on the need for control or seek the approval of others.

Perhaps you are not quite a perfectionist, but you are a high achiever who has a go-go-go mentality. This need to continually produce can be incredibly draining. In this case, you may not be focused on quality, but simply the quantity of what you do. Not only does this approach use up a lot of your energy, but if you are working through lunch or think sleep is overrated and stay up late to get more done, your productivity will end up suffering in the end.

When it is time to recharge, you might inadvertently choose activities that zap your energy. When you are tired, if you are habitually choosing to watch television, play video games, or surf the internet because they are sedentary activities, you are not getting adequate rest. There is nothing wrong with kicking your feet up and engaging in entertainment, but these activities cannot be a substitute for proper relaxation. If you are exposed to brainwashing commercials or get caught up in comparing yourself to friends on social media, these activities will further drain you.

When your energy is low, you are inclined to relax and you might be tempted to reach for something that will give you an immediate boost. While this may increase your energy in the moment, it can be problematic in the long-term. If you find yourself eating junk food, consuming caffeine or sugary snacks, smoking, or drinking alcohol, it is a sign that you are energy-deprived.

Being around certain people may also be an energy drain. People who take the victim role, for instance, are likely to be full of self-pity and avoid taking responsibility for themselves. Those who have narcissistic tendencies can be manipulative and solely focused on their own needs. People who try to dominate others can be intimidating and off-putting. Those who are always in a crisis mode seem to create drama wherever they go. Judgmental folks may try to make you feel insignificant so they can feel more important in comparison. Also, the person who is always acting helpless might elicit your sympathy and convince you to help, but you will likely find yourself caught in a futile cycle. If the person you are around is more of a taker than a giver, if by being around them you feel more negative than positive, or if you feel exhausted merely by spending time together, you need to minimize contact with this person.

To increase your personal power, you need to identify your energy drains and reverse engineer them. If you have a critical mind, move beyond thought so you can see the ultimate truth. Our thoughts cloud our vision of reality. We experience feelings associated with our interpretation of events. Our perceptions are often flawed and can mislead us.

You need to have a positive outlook. Identify thoughts that stop you from having what you want and declare that you will do whatever it takes to make your goal come to fruition. Pay close attention to the language you use. It can make a big difference in how you feel and in your productivity. By quieting the mind, you can attain greater clarity, which will allow you to make decisions with greater ease and avoid potential obstacles.

Engaging in selfless acts demonstrates that you are acting out of your best interests. If, for instance, you feel stressed and frustrated about all you have to do, such as taking care of your children, keeping your home organized, providing financially for your family, you might notice how depleting this feels. But once you redefine your actions as selfless, you stop anticipating reciprocity and drop expectations. This simple mind shift can give you more energy and help you feel empowered, knowing that you are responsible, caring, and strong.

Rather than focus on controlling your circumstances, turn inward to gain ultimate control of your mind, the intensity of your emotions, and your reactions. If you live with integrity, you can validate yourself rather than feel a need for someone else to recognize you. This can boost your confidence and help you show up charismatically.

Have compassion for yourself and slow down. Instead of focusing on getting an exponential amount of work done, focus on quality. Pace yourself and stay attuned to your energy levels throughout.

Consider what will truly replenish your energy. Sitting still and breathing can energize your body, release internal stress, and free the mind from negative chatter. Nourish your body with high energy foods. Hydrate with lots of water. Declutter your environment and then your mind will also feel less cluttered and you will regain your focus and vitality. Surround yourself with people who are enthusiastic, supportive, and loving.

Showing up powerfully requires you to be aware of your energy. Like a light switch, you have to know which direction turns you on and which shuts you down. When inspecting your circumstances, consider what gives you personal power and what takes your power away. This awareness can help you make better decisions that are aligned with your integrity, your goals, and your values.

In conclusion, To increase your personal power, you need to eliminate energy drains (e.g., negative thinking, perfectionism, putting your needs last, controlling others, seeking outside approval, doing too much and recovering too little, seeking immediate gratification) and do the opposite. To this end, you need to have an awareness of your energy level and employ a positive outlook, be selfless, engage in healthy and energy replenishing activities, and surround yourself with positive influences. Also, pay attention to times of the day and the season so you can be aware of when you feel most energized and in harmony with the forces around you.”

For more helpful tools, tips, and resources on managing your mind and energy, grab a copy of my book, The 7E Solution to Burnout. It is a self-coaching guide to get you from exhausted to extraordinary. 

In the meantime, what I’d like you to do this week is focus in on identifying your energy drains and considering what you will do instead. I would love to hear from you in the comments so be sure to come back and jot down exactly what you found helpful and how you’ve been able to turn your energy around. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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