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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4 ways to restore your energy

Life is busy, stressful and sometimes draining. It doesn’t matter how motivated and dedicated you are to your goals, sometimes your energy just fizzles out or you feel completely overwhelmed. Others place huge demands on you, or you burn the candle at both ends. Whatever the cause of your depletion, you need to find a way to restore your energy. Then you can get back to living your best life.

Personality plays a part

Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert is a huge factor in how you restore your energy. Lots of people believe that introversion means your shy while extroversion means you’re loud and social. That’s not entirely true. Introversion/extroversion is actually more about how you get your energy.

Introverts restore their energy from within, usually by having quiet time. Extroverts restore their energy by being around other people. Introverts can be very social and not at all shy, but they still prefer their own space when they’re feeling depleted. Extroverts on the other hand, can be very shy, but they still get their energy from being around other people.

I am most definitely an introvert. Not so much shy, but definitely socially awkward. And given the opportunity to go to a party or have the house to myself for a few hours, “Lock in B, Eddie!”

How I restore my energy

Since becoming a mum, I get very little time entirely to myself. When the baby’s asleep, the husband wants to talk to me, and when the husband’s working, the baby needs my attention. Even when everyone else is asleep, I’m listening out for the baby or trying to think ahead to what he’ll need when he wakes up.

In my day job I’m meeting with people every day that I’ve never met before. I need to learn a lot of information about them in a short space of time. Then I go back to my desk which is in an open plan environment and can be extremely noisy as discussions go on around the office.

All of this is completely draining to me. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy any of it. I love ALL of it. But it drains my energy. So I need to then find some quiet time to recharge.

These are my favourite ways to restore my energy:

Cooking

The combination of following a process and being creative is therapeutic and energising.

Not the kind of cooking where you’re trying to get dinner on the table before the kid loses his mind and the husband eats all the snacks. The kind of cooking where the kitchen is clean, the music is playing, and I can create. The aspects of cooking that bring me comfort are a bit contradictory. On one hand I enjoy having a process to follow. But on the other hand, I like deviating a bit and being creative. I tend to look at a heap of different recipes and then make my own up based loosely on what I’ve read.

 

Reading brings me inspiration or temporary escape…

Reading

Whether I’m reading to learn, or reading to escape, it restores my energy. The non-fiction books I read teach me about something I’m interested in. This inspires me and boosts my energy a lot. When I read fiction, I remove myself from my own world for a little while and become totally absorbed in another story. My brain gets a chance to let go of all my own issues and worries. My body gets a chance to rest. And I feel restored.

Planning

Mapping out my week and my tasks helps me feel more in control.

Stress often builds up and energy begins to drain when I’m feeling overwhelmed. The best way I’ve found to combat this is to sit down and write it all out. Dumping all my tasks onto a bit of paper and then sorting out a plan helps me to feel calmer and more in control. I like to plan my meals, my week, my goals, and my work. More often than not, I have to deviate from the plan. Things come up. That’s life. But working out the plan is therapeutic for me, and having the plan helps me feel a bit more energised and focused.

Soaking

A luxurious bath relaxes me entirely, then restores my energy to face the world.

One of my favourite, but most rare forms of energy restoration is a luxurious soak in the bath. Hot water, bubbles, essential oils, soft music, and a good novel. And a glass of wine. Don’t forget the wine. This gives me some time out away from every other human, relaxes all my muscles, and makes me feel pampered. At the end of it, I’m usually nice and relaxed and ready to face the world again. It makes me a bit sad to realise that it’s been about two years since I’ve properly enjoyed this experience, so it’s going on my list for 2019 to make it a more regular occurrence.

Other (boring but important) forms of energy restoration

Now of course, there are other ways to restore your energy that are important to mention. These are the things that are important for all people, regardless of whether you are an introvert or extrovert. They are also the things that we read about alllll the time and know we should be doing… you know the ones.

Food.

Water.

Exercise.

Sleep.

I’m not gonna go into them in this post but keep them in mind. They really do help!

So I’ve talked about some of my favourite ways to restore my energy as an introvert. I’d love to hear your favourite methods. Please leave a comment below!

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