Managing Energy

“We, too, must learn to live our own lives as a series of sprints-fully engaging for periods of time, and then fully disengaging and seeking renewal before jumping back into the fray to face whatever challenges confront us.”

“We build emotional, mental and spiritual capacity in precisely the same way that we build physical capacity.” 

“To meet increased demand in our lives, we must learn to systemically build and strengthen muscles wherever our capacity is insufficient. Any form of stress that prompts discomfort has the potential to expand our capacity-physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually-so long as it is followed by adequate recovery.”

These are quotes taken from a book I’m currently reading, “The Power of Full Engagement” It’s about how managing energy, not time, is the key to productivity and balanced life. It compares building physical strength to building mental and spiritual strength. And stresses the importance of recovery. And by recovery I mean doing something that you find truly joyful.

I chose these 3 quotes as they spoke to me and I thought you might relate to them as well.

It’s so easy to feel pulled in so many different directions. We work, we parent, we try and take care of ourselves. All while running on low fuel. Life can feel like a marathon. And I hate running. I have zero interest in running a marathon. (For all you marathon runners out there, I bow down to you. That shit is hard.) I’m assuming at times it feels like it is never going to end and there is no recovery in sight. Life sometimes feels like this too, right? Blurred lines between work time and down time. We are working, doing house stuff, browsing on social media, and responding to emails all at the same time. All day long. Always on. 

But what if we ditched the marathon and instead ran life as a series of sprints?

If you’ve ever done sprints, you know they are hard! Recovery time is needed in between to be able to do more. Similarly after a tough strength training workout, we need to allow our muscles to rest and repair. To grow bigger and stronger. But what if instead of a tough workout, we needed to tackle a stressful project at work. Or have a tough conversation with a friend. Or do something mentally challenging. Shouldn’t we then have the same type of recovery afterwards? So we can expand our mentally capacity, become more capable for the next go round, grow stronger and more enlightened.

I usually start my day by training clients. My morning sprint. It’s all about them, their bodies, their energy, and their movement. Returning home around lunch time, I take the dogs on a walk. I use this as one of my recovery times. I breathe fresh air, think about my morning, and reset for the afternoon. It's enjoyable for both me and the dogs. Afterwards, I'm refreshed and ready to focus on my next "sprint".

Your ideal recovery time might not be walking dogs, that's fine! But whatever it is, it should be joyful, pleasurable, energizing! It should be more than just watching tv on the couch at night. Look, I do enjoy watching tv. There is no thinking involved. You can totally zone out. Become numb. But would I say it energizes me? Probably not. If we don’t allow our energy to renew during these times, we start to feel like we never get to come down. We become burnt out and do things (both at work and at home) half assed. Everything starts to feel like an obligation. And we feel guilty for having those feelings.

Saturdays are joyful for me. The day almost always includes a workout, bacon, waffles, some form of self care (massage/acupuncture/reading/hiking), and some social time with friends or family.

What about you? When was the last time you did something that you found truly enjoyable? Something that made you relaxed and smiley on the inside? Energized. If it’s been awhile, then it’s time to add that shit in. Make yourself a list of things that bring you joy and hang it up all over your house. 

And work like hell to fit those things into your day.