~ Jim Loehr, Author
We need energy to function and perform.
Our bodies require rest and recovery time in addition to the absence from work if you want to be healthy, happy and deliver high performance.
Balancing stress and recovering is essential in all aspects of our daily lives.
Most people in business (working in corporate or for themselves) have an imbalance of expending energy as opposed to recovering it. Over time, our energy reserves are depleted and this can lead to burnout.
It happened to me many years ago and I was fortunate enough to see this as a wake up call to change my lifestyle and approach to my working life. Others aren’t so lucky.
Most of us tend to unconsciously assume that we can indefinitely spend our mental and emotional energy without replenishing any at a physical or spiritual level. Our balance becomes skewed as we work longer hours, sacrificing our weekends and evenings.
Over time our performance is compromised, as we falsely believe that being successful means working harder, and this involves working long hours all the time. Some working cultures actively encourage this (I know this was true when I worked as an international consultant).
I’ve learned that spending and recovering energy has a natural flow to it, a bit like a tide ebbing and flowing. You’ve got to allow a natural rhythm in alignment with your body. Don’t just take my word for it – our breathing, heartbeat and blood pressure all have natural rhythms to them!
By starving your body of energy you are messing with the natural rhythms that effect your health, happiness and performance. No wonder you start to feel tired and exhausted!
Working at a crazy pace without breaks is actually addictive (you see it all the time in the work place). We are all copying each other heading towards overwhelm and burnout! If you don’t do what everyone else is doing, then you feel that you aren’t performing as well.
In our reluctance to stop and replenish, we turn to artificial stimulants to keep our bodies alert to meet the busy demands in our lives, such as caffeine and drugs. To help us relax, we use alcohol or sleeping pills to calm us down. These artificial stimulants become addictive over time as we rely on them to keep us going.
Are you drinking several cups of coffee during the day to stay on it? Are you then going home and drinking several glasses of wine at night to relax and chill? If so, you are messing with your rhythms and masking the depletion of your energy.
Here are some tips to increase your energy and avoid burnout even in the most demanding job:
Create circuit breakers in your routine – Our bodies are not designed to sit at a computer and stare at a screen answering emails all day, or sitting inactive in long meetings. Create breaks in your day – get up, move around, go for a 10-15 minute walk to shake off the atrophy. Drink plenty of water and go for a pee when you need one (seriously, I know people who forget to go all day!).
Schedule personal time with family and friends – Mark days or long weekends and holidays in advance in your calendar. These are not compromise-able! One of my clients takes a long weekend (3-days) every month to be fully present with her family. The more important we see our work and ourselves; the more we become unavailable to our friends and family. I coached a guy once who has lost all his friends because of his addiction to his job. He was very lonely.
Set some boundaries – Be realistic about what you can achieve and prioritize around your High Value Work (HVW). Minimize any distractions and stay focused on what’s important. Plan, prioritize and say NO to things that don’t serve you or your goals.
Stretch – don’t splatter – yourself! – High performance requires us to step out of our comfort zone and create a new normal. To build new capacity mentally and emotionally you have to exceed your muscles’ current capacity past it’s current limit for short periods of time followed by adequate recovery (just like building muscle tone at the gym). This is where you get growing pains and feel short-term discomfort as you are learning.
Take up a hobby – Yep… I’m serious! There’s almost a perception that taking time to rest and enjoy something that you like doing is a weakness because surely no one has time to do what your like doing, right?! Resting is seen as laziness! I enjoy walking and surrounding myself with nature is uplifting mentally, physically, emotionally…and spiritually. Make time for something that you enjoy each week, reading? Photography?
As a coach, I’ve witnessed remarkable changes in the energy and performance of people (including myself) because they consciously and regularly renew their energy. They are healthy, happy, high performers and are fully engaged in their lives.
Look after yourself… YOU are the only ONE you have!
Do you have enough energy to get the job done?!