As I grow older, I realize that my daily energy stores are in decline. I’m more aware of the need to manage personal energy levels to improve happiness. This usually means planning only one or two things for the day besides the usual time for exercise, writing, cooking, and a few basic housekeeping tasks.
Just before making the decision to retire, it struck me that I needed most of every weekend to recover from the grinding career pace in the role of a child welfare association CEO. I needed to take stock of what I wanted from the last third of my life because work obligations had gobbled up too much precious time and energy. Too often I gritted my teeth to tough it out and get through the day or the week. I had little energy left for relationships or hobbies. I neglected my health by compromising sleep and skipping exercise routines. I ate most meals away from home with breakfast meetings, lunches served during meetings, and dinner over a networking engagement or scrounged from leftovers in the office kitchen as I finished emails and prepared for the next day’s events.
The joy of work was gone. Despite positive relationships and business achievements, the excitement was over. Personal energy stores which were essential for a leadership role were depleted. I was ready to retire!
Retirement brought new freedom — unscheduled time! Unfortunately, I remained in ‘production’ mode and accepted various positions on boards and committees. Only when I realized that I replaced career commitments with similar volunteer commitments, and resigned from these volunteer ‘jobs’, did I truly retire. I made the necessary changes to manage my personal energy.
Gradually I regained strength and a sense of control. When I was less exhausted and less frazzled, my attitudes and beliefs changed. I began to visualize a different future for retirement happiness based on activities and hobbies that I wanted to do. I let go of people who drained my resources and cultivated a new network.
What we know about personal energy
Personal energy has been defined as “the amount of effort you are capable of giving, within your mind and body, to things, people, or challenges.”https://www.thebalancecareers.com/not-enough-time-personal-energy-3545229 The article goes on to describe how thoughts, emotions, and choices affect personal energy.
Personal energy levels are unique to each of us. We know when personal energy levels are high. When we feel depleted, we recognize the imbalance.
In other words, how you feel is a key indicator. Some things build energy while others drain you. Everyone has experienced an interaction with a friend or acquaintance that animates, inspires, and stimulates. Likewise, some interactions suck you dry.
Managing personal energy
As I re-evaluated retirement and reduced volunteer obligations, I developed a few guidelines for increasing and managing personal energy.
- At the top of my list is self-control in areas of life where I have control such as eating healthfully, sleeping enough, exercising, and regulating emotions.
- Secondly, I try to keep a positive and optimistic attitude. When pessimism strikes, as it inevitably does, I remind myself that most worries are groundless. Imagining the worst possible outcome wastes precious time.
- Scheduling time to rejuvenate by practising self-care, taking breaks, and disconnecting from technology.
- Engaging in at least one purposeful activity or goal-directed every day brings energy and increases happiness. Sometimes this involves helping someone or making something interesting for dinner or playing the piano. The net result is an increase in feelings of self-worth, plus the satisfaction of achievement and accomplishment.
- Keeping unscheduled time during every week gives me something to look forward to as a time for solitude or goofing off with no guilt over unmet commitments.
Each reader can create a plan to manage and improve personal energy levels. What works for me may not work for you — everyone needs to find what works for them.
Thanks for reading my post. Please leave a comment with your favourite ways to manage personal energy. If you like my writing, please subscribe to receive — you’ll receive an email when I post something new!