One of the things I’ve recently noticed that helps me achieve my goals is paying attention close attention to my energy levels.
Many of us, especially younger people, tend to think of ourselves as having an infinite amount of time here on the planet. That means that energy isn’t considered a commodity because we think that when we get tired we can just sleep and everything resets the next day.
This is not true. And as your goals increase in size and complexity, and as you age, and as the demands of everyday living grow, you are going to find that there “just aren’t enough hours in the day.”
But that statement isn’t true either. There are enough hours in the day. There are plenty.
And do you know how I know this? Because there are people who are doing magnificent things in the world and they have the same number of hours as you do. Generally, these people are just better at managing their hours.
The way you do this—the secret to managing your time—actually lies in your ability to manage your energy.
Because if your energy isn’t good, then you automatically won’t manage your time. You’ll do things like eat junk food and mindlessly stare at a glowing screen for hours on end…which is not the normal state of a human being.
If there’s something you want in this world, and let’s assume you’re actively working towards that goal, then you need to make it as easy as possible to achieve it as you can. Most people who have done great things say that just about everything that you do should be geared toward accomplishing your goal(s).
Although true, I do think this advice gets taken out of context. It’s rare that people have just one single goal. Usually we have many goals: family goals, relationship goals, parenting goals, fitness goals, business goals, mindset goals, life enjoyment goals, travel goals, charity goals…the list goes on and on.
So determine what you want out of this life. What do you want to have achieved by the time you take your last breath? A good way to figure out what your top priorities are is to think of everything you do from the outside-in…sort of like starting at the center of an onion.
Here’s the progression:
- What do you want for your mind? Your body? Your experiences?
- What do you want for those people closest to you? Your family? Your friends? Your neighbors?
- What do you want for the world?
Of course you can slice this progression up in a way that makes sense to you. But the idea is to pick as few things as possible to focus the majority of your energy on. And then you should cut out everything that is not in direct line with those goals.
A key ingredient to my energy management that I’ve been overlooking is resting and rejuvenating. I keep trying to force myself into this box of work, work, work all the time 24/7 with no breaks. But the problem is that when I do this, I inevitably become drained in such a way that I under-perform and end up having a mental or physical crash.
I don’t think that it’s talked about that many people who behave in this way end up either having their health fail, their relationships deteriorate, or their lives wasted. I now believe that it is quite possible to work your ass off and be relentless while still managing to take care of yourself.
For me, this means using my weekends to take care of my mind, body, and soul while calmly diligently preparing myself for the upcoming week. I used to think of these things as unproductive, but now I realize that rest is just as much a part of my “work” as anything else.
Another thing I had to do was to make the most of the time that I did spend working. Instead of having a video playing in the background, I’ve realized that I can be much more focused, get way more done, and still feel good while doing it. Somehow I managed to forget how good the state of flow feels. When I’m in flow, I don’t need music, entertainment, or distractions in the background.
When I wasn’t allowing myself to get in the zone, what ended up happening was that I wasn’t gaining any pleasure from work. This led me to pursue pleasure in other ways like drinking too much or watching stupid, mindless videos. Once I realized the power of flow on my brain chemistry, I no longer needed to pursue other, energetically unproductive ways to keep me feeling good.
Also, I had to eliminate a lot of things from my life that I loved but that were not a part of my goals…smoking pot for example. About a year and a half ago I quit smoking pot and never took a single puff since then. I absolutely loved smoking pot, but at the end of the day it was not something that I wanted to be part of my story. It wasn’t important to me to smoke, so I had to just completely eliminate it.
But, again, that’s just me. You do you. And I’ll do me.
I’m not saying don’t do the things you love. Because so often, these things can actually contribute to your energy levels. For example, it can be a really wonderful expenditure of time and energy to go out to a bar with a group of friends and treat yourself to a fancy drink or two. But this can be a slippery slope. If you find that you’re doing this too regularly (or if you’re indulging yourself a little too much when you do go out), then it can actually be counter productive to your energy levels.
Believe me, I would smoke weed a few times a year if I knew that the habit would not slowly work its way back into my life. But I know myself. I’ve tried to quit many times. For me personally, all it takes is one puff and, in not long, I find myself waking up next to a bong. Better out than in. But that’s just me.
I’m not going to tell you what to do and what not to do. But I will say that a lot of the stereotypical advice about sex, drugs, and rock and roll does have some truth to it.
All of these things can be truly wonderful. But they feel good, so, naturally, they’re highly addictive. If you find that you can’t enjoy something without it affecting your next day’s energy levels, then it’s probably something you want to just eliminate from your life completely.
I know it sucks. I fought for years trying to be a responsible smoker. But the bottom line is after I’ve forced myself to quit completely, I am so much happier as a result. I just feel so relieved that I don’t have to worry about all of the negative aspects that come with the habit. I don’t have to worry about any of it. I’m free. And what I’ve gained in return is far greater, and helps me immensely to achieve the things that I want to accomplish with my life.
Sobriety is a wonderful thing. And I’m not just talking about drugs and alcohol. I’m talking about freeing yourself from anything that impacts your energy levels in a way that does not get you closer to what you want to get out of this life.
Just about anything can be a drain on your energy. The rule of thumb is if it does not revitalize and invigorate you, then you’re probably engaging in the activity too much or too often. If, when you do an activity, you’re not like, “OMG, this is amazing!” then you’re probably doing it too much or too often.
Ask yourself, and be honest: what things are you doing that soak up your energy and prevent you from doing what you want to do?
The thing is, you don’t have to quit today, tomorrow, or even next month. You just need to be aware of what you’re doing. And then from there, simply make the conscious choice to either do it or not do it. There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re not “bad” for doing something that drains your energy.
There’s no need to feel guilty about not being where you want to be. Take care of yourself, comrade. At all costs.
You’ve got, got, got to be gentle with yourself…whatever that means for you. Don’t lie to yourself, but also don’t beat yourself up. Just be honest and try your best to love yourself unconditionally.
Do this and continue to reaffirm your goals or what you want out of life and, trust me, you’ll be on your way to kicking more ass in no time!