“Memory with no emotional charge is wisdom”- Rich Litvin
As we are rounding the corner of 2020, it is important to make time to press pause. Really stop, reflect and course correct to ensure you are not steam rolling into 2021 on autopilot.
When you open Waze or Google Maps, there are two basic requirements before you can begin the trip – a starting point and a desired end destination.
Equally, you need to assess where you are at now in your life and where you want to go.
Do not bring the emotional baggage of 2020 into the new year but rather learn from it and make sure you are charged and ready to tackle 2021 with a fresh perspective.
The way forward – take some time out and do an energy audit of 2020. Think of it as a strategy planning day like you would do for your business.
Put 2020 under a microscope in order to set yourself up for success.
Don’t wait for things to ‘calm down’ to take this time out, make it a priority and schedule the meeting as ‘strategy session with EXCO’ so no one will book you.
The objective of this exercise is self-awareness and honesty. Be radically honest with yourself about what’s going on in your world and where you’re not showing up. Identify the key changes you need to make so that 2021 is your year to thrive.
Tim Ferriss says ‘All that stands between you and what you want is a better set of questions’ and he’s absolutely correct. Here are some questions you can include in your energy audit of 2020 to get you started.
“When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.” – Jean Shinoda Bolen
How are your current energy management skills? Are you ending the year with your battery in the red or do you still have some charge left in you? Now is the time to assess where your self-care can use some attention:
- If you didn’t set an alarm clock, would you sleep past that time?
- Do you find yourself at your computer screen reading and then rereading the same sentence?
- Do you find yourself reaching for sugary snacks and caffeine just to make it through the morning?
- Do you ever feel exhausted but still charge into your next activity without a break, even though you know you should take a breather?
- Are you losing a sense of presence and falling into autopilot as you progress through the day?
- Is your mind racing anxiously from one activity to the next?
- Do you have any activities scheduled around rest and recovery?
- Do you feel guilty when you want to take some time for yourself to exercise?
This is about truthful reflection to assess your self-care or lack of self-care habits. If you know you need to put more attention on yourself, then make sure you are scheduling the time into your calendar.
Close the gap between the things you know you should be doing and acting. Knowledge is not enough because common sense isn’t always common practice.
Not sure where to begin – ask yourself ‘how can I better take care of myself right now?
Choose one new habit in the self-care category and start with 15 minutes daily to lock in the system. This includes sleep, movement, nutrition, hydration, clutter and relaxation.
Make the action as small as possible so you don’t need willpower to push you. One squat, one mindful breath, one meal change per day, one extra glass of water…
Once you have mastered the art of showing up to yourself, you can begin to increase the amount of time and intensity.
“Keep negative people in your prayers, not in your life.” ― Matshona Dhliwayo
- Who do I spend my time with that truly energizes me?
- Who do I spend my time with that drains me?
Once you have identified these people, you need to make some tough decisions. Your time is so precious so be clear on who you are giving it to and the consequence of it.
Be aware of the energy vampires in your life, those people who literally feel like they suck the soul out of you. You know those interactions where you leave a conversation feeling drained and they never even asked how you are.
If it is a family member, then set boundaries and limit conversations to 10 minutes or less.
During the challenging times, how did you manage yourself?
Did you retreat into hobbit mode and try figure it out on your own because you didn’t want to be a burden or do you have a tribe of people you can reach out to for some sound advice and guidance?
When you feel yourself moving an energy dip, reach out to someone who can help you find perspective and be a sounding board.
Equally, think about who you can be the same support for. When a friend or colleague goes into radio silence, pick up the phone and reach out to them. This will boost your energy as well as theirs.
Identify your passion
“There comes a time when you ought to start doing what you want. Take a job that you love. You will jump out of bed in the morning. I think you are out of your mind if you keep taking jobs that you don’t like because you think it will look good on your resume. Isn’t that a little like saving up sex for your old age?” – Warren Buffet
You cannot rely on other people to energise you; this is an inside out process. You must identify what are the activities that fuel your soul.
Did you make time this year to pursue a passion, a new hobby or learn a new skill?
Passion is a not place or a person, it is the energy inside you. Consider these questions if you have lost track of what ignites you:
- What are the things that naturally energize you?
- What do you like to learn about?
- What would you do for free?
- Whose life are you interested in or envious of?
- What depletes you?
- What causes you the most amount of tension?
When something energizes you, add more of it to your life. When something depletes you, figure out how to do less of that thing.
As often as possible, follow the energy inside you as this is what passion truly is.
Make a commitment to yourself to include at least one of these activities in 2021. Sign up for a course and schedule the time into your calendar now as a recurring weekly or daily meeting before your diary fills up.
Don’t deprive yourself of these activities because life got too busy or you don’t have time. In the words of Debbie Milman – ‘Busy is a decision’.
“The energy of the mind is the essence of life”- Aristotle
Your mental chatter, that ongoing daily commentary begins the minute you wake up and doesn’t stop until you go to sleep at night.
The content of those thoughts is the difference between self-sabotage and self-leadership.
- Have you put your thoughts under a microscope?
- Have you questioned your limiting beliefs?
- What is the story you tell yourself?
Change your focus with a better set of questions. Instead of ‘why does this always happen to me? Or ‘Why do I keep self-sabotaging?’ Ask yourself these questions to redirect your focus and boost your energy so you don’t fall into the same pattern for 2021:
- What can I learn here?
- How am I growing right now?
- What is this here to teach me?
- What would my 70-year-old self tell me to do?
- How can I use this situation to help myself?
- What am I really excited about in my life right now?
- What am I grateful for in my life right now?
“It’s less about doing e-mail better and more about doing energy better” – Brendon Burchard
Perhaps this year revealed that you didn’t manage the boundaries between work and personal life very well. Maybe you spent the year in overwhelm, stress and brain fog more than you choose to admit.
Perhaps you have realised the work you are doing now isn’t giving you the fulfilment you are after.
Beth Kempton, author of Wabi Sabi, suggests you pose these questions to invite a different kind of career journey:
- What needs to be different by this time next year for me to thrive in my work?
- How would I like to describe myself a year from now?
- How would I like to describe my home a year from now?
- How would I like to describe my work life a year from now?
- How would I like to describe my finances a year from now?
- What would I like to have created a year from now?
- How would I like to describe my headspace a year from now?
The next step in your planning is to decide on one small change you can make today to start shifting from where you are to where you want to be in 2021?
“If you are not where you want to be, do not quit, instead reinvent yourself and change your habits.” — Eric Thomas
Covid was something no one could ever anticipate, and this year was full of unexpected challenges and demands.
Now that you have the benefit of hindsight and experience, it’s important not to repeat the same choices that really did not serve you.
Energy management is fundamental to how you show up to yourself and the world. One final question to steer your actions for the new year is this:
What are my non-negotiables for 2021?
It could be insisting on taking lunch breaks every day, only starting meetings after 9:30 or no weekend emails? Perhaps it is not attending unnecessary meetings, inserting time for your self-care and protecting your family time.
No one knows what 2021 will bring but starting the year identifying what hasn’t worked and taking corrective steps will set you up to make better choices for the year ahead despite any external factors.
Here’s to managing your energy,