Are you living your life fully engaged and self-expressed? Or are you merely going through the motions of day-to-day living – hoping and wishing for more? More energy, more time, more joy, more fulfillment, more connection….
If you are, keep reading! This month’s book review will give you some valuable insights into living a fully engaged and self-expressed life. In their book ‘The Power of Full Engagement’, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz share exactly what it takes to do this and I’m going to share my the key take-away’s so that you can start implementing them immediately!
When I ask most people what it will take to have more of what they want in their life the most common response is: “If I just had more time then I would be able to …”
But as Loehr and Schwartz point out, it’s not time management that’s really the issue. It’s ENERGY management. This “is the fundamental source of efficiency and high performance”. And it requires not just building and managing your physical energy but also your emotional, mental and spiritual energy. “So rather than optimizing [your] schedules, [you] should focus on optimizing the quantity and quality of [all your] available energy.”
Where do you start? Think of maximizing all four of your energy sources in terms of endurance, flexibility and strength. No different to what you would focus on in a fitness program.
We’re all familiar with physical energy. It enables you to do all of what needs to get done in a day…or not.
How can you improve your capacity?
– nourish your body with natural, whole food regularly that will provide a steady, slow and sustainable release of energy
– hydrate your body with plenty of water
– get sufficient rest – when you work late into the night, the increase in mistakes you make is due to declining physical energy levels – so yes physical energy does effect mental energy and performance
– be active during the day – workout, take the stairs, take regular breaks (every 50 – 90 minutes) – this in particular is scientifically proven to increase your energy levels and as a result make you more productive – so if you think you’re too busy to take a break every hour, think again – or in fact, don’t think – just do it
There is nothing new here, I know yet how many of you are consistently doing ALL of the above. Until you do, you will struggle to live fully engaged! So consider what the resistance is, what the challenges are and make a commitment to overcome them.
Emotional energy requires emotional flexibility. What does that mean? It means you’re able to draw on a range of emotions appropriate to any given situation as opposed to being rigid, stuck and stubborn.
How do you do develop emotional flexibility?
– manage your physical health because when you are physically tired and drained it becomes much harder to manage your emotions
– choose and regularly engage in enjoyable activities – make time to play – this is your source of positive emotional energy and feelings which fuel performance
– know what your emotional renewal strategies (this is any activity that you find fulfilling and captivating and helps you to relax) and find ways to incorporate them into your day especially when stressed
As well, learn to confront negative emotions and situations by being open and honest with yourself. Be open to growth and improvement. Avoiding negative emotions and situations is a guaranteed energy drain so make sure you have ways of coping with these.
Mental energy is expressed in terms of focus and concentration over time so you can power through your work; especially when you’d rather quit and do something else that is more fun and engaging. Training your mental energy helps you stay focused and creative at the same time. Balancing creativity, focus and efficiency keeps you competitive in the world today.
How do you develop this?
– focus on one task at a time and eliminate distractions
– keep your sights on the goal, so you don’t become derailed when challenges come up
– accept responsibility for the good and bad, find the positive aspects and learn from mistakes
– boost creativity by doing something fun or relaxing which will engage the more creative right hemisphere of the brain and provide the space for new ideas to emerge
On a side note, also limit the amount of decisions you make each day so as not to unnecessarily deplete your limited mental energy. One way to do this is to develop daily rituals and routines. These are powerful tools to effectively manage energy capacity. For example, deciding the night before what you will have for breakfast eliminates that decision in the morning, putting out your workout clothes eliminates the decision as to whether you will workout or not etc. etc. All these seemingly minor decisions we make every day drains our mental capacity so the more automatic behaviors we can create and implement the better. In addition these rituals or habits can also help you to live in alignment with your core values and as a result fuel your Spiritual energy.
“Spiritual energy is the source for motivation, derived from committing to others as well as ourselves.” This is often the most overlooked source of energy. It’s a conscious commitment to a set of personal values that provides you with your drive and motivation and a sense of purpose in life. It’s best viewed in terms of strength by helping you to stay connected to your deepest values, ethics and morals.
How do you develop these?
– by being motivated by something intrinsic and beyond your immediate self-interest
– by thinking and caring about the needs and wants of others
Remember that your purpose is your motivation behind your engagement and commitment to what you do – it must be positive, intrinsically motivated and grounded in something beyond mere self-interest. And then these values and what matters most to you must be expressed and inserted within your day – into every action, decision, thought and interaction you have. Keeping your actions, including the smallest of choices you make every day in alignment with your values will give you purpose and move you closer to living a fully engaged life.
Maximizing each of these limited energy sources by both preserving and building them is a huge part of what it will take to consistently perform at and feel your very best.So take some time now and identify at least one way in which you can develop your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energy and then put it into consistent daily practice.
Until next week – embrace your inner truth, live your purpose and make your contribution in the world.
With gratitude and appreciation,