‘The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it’ said Henry David Thoreau. What are you giving your energy (and therefore your health) to and are you getting a worthwhile return on that investment (ROI)?
Most of us are careful about what we spend our money on. We look for some return on investment, either in solid return for our money or at least an emotional or psychological boost for a certain purchase. Why is it then, we are so careless with how we spend our energy? We will vow never to buy another latte at the place that charges $10.00 per cup, yet we will repeatedly spend negative emotions and interpretations on situations at work and life.
Energy is the life force source of our vitality and health and yet many of us just throw it away on people and situations that are not worth the health undermining anger, frustration, guilt or grudge. Don’t get me wrong. We need to vent. And we aren’t going to see eye to eye with everyone, but we don’t have to let these situations drain our wellbeing.
To take it one step further, our thoughts are energy and they create emotions that have an impact on our body at the cellular level. Strong stuff for sure!
Let’s say you find yourself at a team or client meeting internally reacting to every thing a certain colleague or client says. Their inflated ego and penchant for undermining and criticising others really gets to you. You sit in the meeting, stewing with every word they say–even the sound of their voice gets you going-and you become more irritated as the meeting progresses. How much energy did your response cost you? Write down the expenditure of energy and what you actually have received. ‘Did I get a return worthy of the energy I spent or did it just make me frustrated for the rest of the day?’
In recent weeks I’ve had conversations with over a dozen people who are in the middle of the following challenging potentially energy draining situations:
What refuels you? What do you enjoy doing so much that you just get ‘lost in it’? What makes you feel like you’ve at least had a break? The top of the Energy Balance Sheet has a place for you to write down your key refuelers. It is important to write the 5 or 10 minute ones (a cup of tea sitting on the sofa in the staff room) as well as the longer ones like a half hour walk at lunch, walking dogs on beach, reading, coffee with friends, weekend by the sea etc. If you have this list written down, when you are feeling stressed, you have the list right there to choose from. Record the refueling activity in the green credit column and assign it a number in accordance to how much it helps you.
At the end of the week, day or whatever time period you use, tally the columns. If the red column is significantly higher than the green one, it will give you clue about the refuelers that you need to add and some of the drainers that you perhaps can better manage.Many have reported that this has helped them restore some sense of ‘work-life’ balance.
We can’t always change the circumstances, the unfair politics or the protected people that seem to get away with the most obnoxious behaviour and deeds. But we can change how we choose to respond and how much of life we are going to exchange for spending emotional energy on them.