The number of hours in a day is fixed, but the quantity and quality of energy available to us is not. It is our most precious resource.
Jim Loehr & Tony Schwartz, The Power of Full Engagement.
Do you often find yourself saying, “I don’t have time for this?” Many times this is a true statement. We run late, we’re double-booked, we lose track of time, etc. Aside from those situations though, do you use that phrase when you really mean something else? I hear myself using this phrase in my head when I sit through a meeting that I feel holds little value; when I look at the stack of paperwork on my desk that needs attention; when I think of calling technical support for a computer issue that I can’t solve on my own; when I think of returning phone calls to people I don’t want to talk with; and the list goes on. What I really mean when I say, I don’t have time, is that - I don’t have the energy!
When will we ever have enough time in the day for all that life requires of us? I think I hear a collective chuckle and a one word response – never! Yet, I know there are days when I feel boundless energy to accomplish heaps, and other days when I can barely muster the energy to introduce myself. When you wipe out the physical factors of sleep, nutrition and health, it all comes down to what brings actual enjoyment. When we enjoy something – we have energy for it. For example, I love getting an email from a client. It doesn’t really matter what’s in the email (unless it’s a cancellation) and it doesn’t really matter what state of fatigue I’m in. I almost always have the energy to respond and to respond quickly. I like to proofread things. If a client or a colleague sends me a draft of a proposal, curriculum overview or a communication that needs to be reviewed, I’ll drop other things I’m doing to respond. I have energy for this type of thing -- maybe it’s because I like to be helpful or maybe I just like words and I want to see them strung together in a way that maximizes the message and the credibility of the sender. I find enjoyment in these types of tasks.
What do you find enjoyment in? I will ask my clients this question and often get global responses that suggest they don’t know. Sometimes they say “I haven’t had time to think it through”. Hmmm. Or I’ll hear them say something generic, such as, they like to help people solve problems, or see a project through to completion. And yet those very same problems and projects end up draining their energy in more ways than one. Finding the specific things that bring you energy is important, especially when you find yourself running on empty with little time to get it all done. The secret is to not look for more time. The secret is to look for more of what you enjoy!
Carrie Arnold, PhD, PCC, BCC
Principal Executive Coach & Consultant for The Willow Group (Writer, Reader, Trainer, Facilitator, Wife and Mom)