10 May 2016

Eliminate Energy Drains for Greater Work-Life Balance

Eliminate Energy Drains

Some of the most powerful ways to build more balance into your busy life are readily available to you and entirely within your control.

As a coach to high achievers since 1995, I have observed a range of strategies that make a significant difference in a person’s sense of balance. Each strategy stands on its own and can be implemented independent of any other one.

The strategy that creates the greatest impact is to eliminate energy drains. Energy drains are the challenges and issues that nag at you, drive you crazy, worry you, or in some other way steal your attention and distract you from being in the present with whatever or whoever is in front of you. Many people have a lot of energy drains. The more you have, the more out of control your life feels, and the more stress you experience.

Learning to identify and then to eliminate energy drains is a process, not an instant event. It takes time to develop the habit of recognizing when your energy is draining out of you and then to identify what is causing it to do so. It also takes time to learn to address the source of the energy drain so that it is eliminated, whenever possible, and when it’s not possible, some other adjustment is made.

In the workshops I lead in organizations, one of the energy drains that people frequently bring up is clutter in their home. The solution is EITHER to implement one of the many available clutter solutions OR to make your peace with there being some clutter in your home. Period. Either get it handled or stop stressing about it.

Another one is rush hour traffic. The choice here is EITHER implement an alternative to commuting in rush hour (change your work hours so that you’re not commuting during the rush or move your home or your job so that your commute is short or against traffic – and yes, people do this!). OR make your peace with rush hour traffic (listen to books on tape, learn Italian, dictate your first novel).

Another common energy drain is worrying. People worry about all kinds of things: what does my manager think of me, how will I ever have the money to help my kids with college, does my frequent headache mean I have a brain tumor, what about global warming, does my child have a learning disability, how will we figure out what to do with Mother? (Sound familiar?)

The solution for worry is straightforward:

  1. Ask yourself if there is some action you need to take. If so, take that action, as soon as possible. Ask your manager how you’re doing, hire a financial planner to help you plan for college, call your doctor, join the Sierra Club and act on their legislative bulletins, talk to your child’s teacher, meet with your siblings and start figuring out what needs to happen with your Mother.
  2. IF there is no action you need to take, then focus your attention elsewhere when you find yourself worrying about this issue. Say to yourself: “There is nothing I need to DO about this right now, so there’s no point in focusing on it. I will turn my attention to . . . .” And then turn your attention elsewhere. This is simple but not necessarily easy, though it becomes easier with practice.  I promise you, this is learnable and probably nowhere near as difficult as some of the other things you’ve already learned.

I don’t mean to trivialize your worries or oversimplify potential solutions. But the bottom line is you can’t afford the luxury of dwelling on the things that drain you.  They are taxing you, personally, on a daily basis. Either get them handled, period, or let them go. It’s really a mindset. You will be surprised at how many things you can get handled when you realize how much they are costing you.

When you eliminate some energy drains from your life, it creates some breathing room. Be very careful not to just let that space be claimed by new energy drains. Use that space with conscious intention. Use it to honor whatever YOUR priorities are. Play some tennis. Take your family to a Red Sox game. Get to yoga more often. Whatever serves you.

Bottom line, your overall productivity and quality of life depend on how effectively you allocate your energy and attention. Eliminating leaks can make a big difference.

Does it seem like you could use some help with this?  I would be happy to tailor a short coaching program to meet your needs.  Contact me to schedule an initial, confidential, complimentary consultation about this and find out what you might gain from working with me.