How to use your energy for the things you value most

WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU?

Life gets busy. So busy in fact, that some days you skip breakfast, drink too many coffees just to try and keep your energy up, and snap at your loved ones because they just don’t get it. You probably don’t even mind being a bit busy – it’s better than being bored, right? But you take on more and more… and more… until you’re completely overwhelmed and heading straight to Burnout Boulevarde.

Every now and then you need to remember to stop and reassess your priorities. It can be so easy to get caught up in what’s urgent, what you feel obliged to do, or what other people need from you. When this happens, we tend to forget what actually matters most to us. And what matters most is what we should be spending the majority of our energy on.

For example, my family and my health & wellbeing are two of the top most important things to me. But when life gets busy, I tend to spend LESS energy on those things, and in fact sabotage them! When work gets really busy and stressful, I’m less inclined to spend quality time with my husband and I get frustrated with the baby being so needy. I spend all my energy on work and then I’m too tired to make healthy meals so I eat crap and don’t fit in any exercise.

What makes it so tricky is that my work is important to me too. But is it MORE important than family and health? Nope. So why does it get more energy than those things? It shouldn’t.

How you spend your energy should reflect your values.


Rank your values

Take a few minutes to list all the things that are important to you.

Now rank the top 5.

This can be really hard, but be honest with yourself. No one else needs to see this.

Here’s an example, but your list might contain totally different things, or in a totally different order.

List your top 5 values in order of priority

Rank your energy expenditure

Now you have to be even more honest with yourself… how are you currently spending your time and energy? Again, rank it from highest to lowest, and remember you’re just looking at the top 5 energy consumers in your life.

If it looks like this:

  1. Work
  2. Facebook
  3. Reality TV
  4. Sobbing into my wine glass
  5. Commuting to and from work

… then you’ve got a problem to fix.

Match ‘em up!

Once you’ve identified what’s important to you and how you’re currently spending your time & energy, it’s time to make some changes.

How can you re-structure your time and prioritise the things that are most important to you?

Sometimes just becoming aware of the difference between your priorities and your energy expenditure is enough to start making small changes.

But sometimes you need to make some really big, tough decisions. For example, if your job is sucking the life out of you but doesn’t even rank on your Top 5 values, it’s time to start looking for a new job. If your family is draining all of your energy but they’re not the number one value, you might need to start setting some boundaries and putting other things first.

Wrapping up…

This is a great exercise to do when life is getting busy or overwhelming, or when you just can’t seem to fit in things that are important to you. You might like to do this exercise as part of a regular review of your life and goals.

Remember that the point of the exercise is not to rank things that you think should be important to you. It’s not about ranking what other people value. It’s about what YOU value. If you really value reality TV more than work, GREAT! Make sure it ranks higher and find ways to put more of your energy toward that. This is all about identifying what you value most, and living for those values.

I hope you find this helpful and would love to hear what you think of the exercise.

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