To set your energy clock, you must have the guts to ditch the things that don't bring meaning to your life. Invest more time in the things that sustain and replenish your energy and eliminate or better manage those things that drain your energy.
Meet a friend of mine. To protect his identity, let's call him Frank. Frank is a sales executive at a large pharmaceutical company. Every time I talk to him (particularly lately), he is always exhausted. He's more stressed, he says, than he has ever been at work. He has more to do than time to do it.
I can see it's affecting his home life too. He's shared about his wife of twenty years and their children he feels he is neglecting—especially a teenage daughter he snaps at more than he hugs.
"I am exhausted," he told me. "It's this client. It won't last that long, maybe six more months tops, but I better get a raise and a nice bonus after this, that is for sure."
I knew that his promotion had come with no raise, only a promise of a bump later. Whenever later is.
"What are you chasing?" I asked him.
"What?" he said.
"What are you chasing?"
"What the hell do you mean?"
"Why are you putting all your energy into something that's clearly consuming you? Your health is slipping. You said your family is being compromised. What is the end goal? The raise?"
He looked down, then back up at me. "I don't know."
Beyond being exhausted, my friend was clearly feeling confused and drained.
His wheels were turning as he began to recognize the unintended consequences of his actions.
AUDITING YOUR ENERGY
"Make every day your masterpiece." — JOHN WOODEN, BASKETBALL COACH
Following that conversation, frank agreed to do an energy audit with me.
An energy audit simply means looking holistically at all of your energy outputs and determining where you are gaining energy and where you are losing it. That awareness is the first step in creating change.
Frank needed the energy audit badly.
I believed he could make adjustments that would get him back on track, but we had to start with three basic questions.
First question: "What increases your energy and is meaningful to you?" I asked. "Let's start with some personal examples."
He perked up.
"Going for a run," he said. "I'm training for a 5K in March. Date nights with my wife, coaching my daughter Sarah's basketball team, and volunteering every Saturday morning through my church. Those are all the personal areas of my life when I feel energized and like I'm doing something that's meaningful."
I jotted his answers at the top of my page:
* Date nights
* Coaching daughter's team
"What about at work?" I prompted him. "What are the things that bring you energy there?"
"Business-development opportunities," he said immediately. "I love prospecting new business, and I get excited every time I see a new opportunity evolve. My colleague Sam, he keeps me grounded and focused and knows how to shift my perspective when I'm having a bad day. I love working with him.
"Going out in the field... It might sound old-school, but I love the face-to-face contact with my customers and seeing firsthand what's going on in their practices, and I've been working on a new partnership with a well-respected hospital here locally that's going to really expand our market share, so that's got me excited."
I added those to his answers:
* Being out in the field
* Business development
* Working with Sam
* New hospital partnership