I’m big advocate of journaling. Every day, I try to reflect on my current emotional state, asking myself questions like, “Why am I in a good mood?” or, “Why am I feeling shitty right now?” Looking back at my answers over time helps me get a better sense of who I am and where I’m going.
Recently, these answers led to an epiphany: How I view just about everything in my life is determined by my energy level. When my energy is high, I feel optimistic. The people around me are wonderful. I’m doing things right. But when my energy is low, the world seems bleak. I shy away from others and question my choices.
That epiphany led to another one: If I want to be more in control of my life, I need to learn how to manage my energy. But even though our energy guides us, no one ever teaches us how to manage it. We’re often told about the importance of managing our time: “Have a problem? Here are 50 ways to carve out more hours to solve it.” But we rarely hear any tips or tricks for energy management.
So I focused on figuring it out for myself. Here are the strategies I’ve adopted, all of which have helped me absorb an important lesson: You won’t improve anything unless you manage your energy first.
Identify your fuel
Ask yourself these two questions:
- “What activities destroy my mood and drain my energy?”
- “What activities make me feel good and give me energy?”
Know that I’m not talking about things that give you a fleeting boost, like partying or impulse shopping. I’m talking about activities that give you energy in the long term.
For instance, I find writing to be a hard and tedious activity. In the moment, I don’t enjoy it at all. AfterI write, however, I feel good about myself and am filled with energy, and that makes the effort worth it to me. It’s not about avoiding hard things. It’s about figuring out which activities give you energy upon their completion.
Apply the 80/20 principle
In his book The 80/20 Principle, entrepreneur Richard Koch writes that 20% of our activities result in 80% of our happiness. Once you understand this, Koch argues, you can achieve “extraordinary results without extraordinary effort.” Identify the activities that bring you the greatest results in every area of your life — your relationships, business, health, finances — and then focus on them. Do them better, throw yourself into them, and you can transform how you feel outside of them, too.
Ask the people in your life for feedback. Journal. Ask yourself whether you’re on the right track. Life is not static. You must adjust your course manually. Take time every day to reflect and look forward.
Remember: You don’t have to be in a good mood all the time.That’s not realistic. But you can manage your energy so that it’s possible to enjoy your life more fully.