We made it! Here come the holidays!
For many of us, this is a wonderful opportunity to step back, reflect, and feel rejuvenated for the coming year. Get ready for 2019 baby!
But I have a question for you…
After you retreat from your life, do you actually feel renewed? If you put your work down for a brief vacation, do you want to pick it up again, or are you truly running out of energy?
I ask these question because I know how it feels to be burnt out and exhausted. There are so many demands on your time, that you’ve lost track of those creative hopes which lit you up as a kid. You work long hours and have so many family obligations that you feel guilty about taking time to yourself.
After a while that kind of lifestyle takes its toll. You lose your verve and excitement for the things you do every day. When inspiration and creativity arise, you lack the energy to do anything about them. You never write your book.
So, what do you do when you run out of energy?
Actually, I want to address this issue by inserting a simpler question as a metaphor. What do you do when you run out of toilet paper?
First you go to the cabinet where the toilet paper is stored. The energy equivalent of this would be getting a good night’s sleep, or eating something healthy. It’s readily available and works great.
What do you do when the cabinet is empty?
Then you go to the store. The energy equivalent here is a weekend or a vacation, where you can take a break, reflect and then get back on your game. Also something that should happen on a regular basis.
However, what would you do if all the stores ran out of toilet paper?
Then you’re going to have to go to the factory and find out about the hold up. You might learn more about manufacturing, distribution, and the resources that go into making the stuff. The energetic equivalent here might sound intimidating, but it’s actually really fun. It’s where we take a look at how you’re living your life, and make sure it’s meaningful.
Just as we’re examining the way we use energy at a global level to make sure its sustainable, it’s essential that we understand how we’re using energy at a personal level, so we exist in a place that’s happy and fulfilled, rather than burned out and exhausted.
This is all about recognizing the difference between driven action and inspired action.
Often we feel burned out because a great deal of our time is dedicated to tasks that are no longer meaningful. We don’t know why we do the things we do, we just keep acting out of guilt or obligation.
Take church. Are you doing it because you love your community, you feel it gives you a spiritual reflection on the week, and it connects you with fulfilling activities that serve the greater good? Or are you doing it because you’re afraid of what would happen to you if you didn’t?
Same activity, worlds of difference.
The fact is, one version of church is going to continue to tap your energy without replacing it, which is driven action, and the other is going to fulfill you and give you more energy to inspire you through the week.
This week, I’d like to help you initiate a process that’s transformed my life. It begins by simply recognizing where you’re driving yourself to do things that are using up your energy stores. Let me give you two definitions:
Driven Action - These are the things you feel you should do, however they’ve lost their underlying meaning. It could be a job, income stream, community, habit or daily task. There’s no passion in it any longer, but you’re afraid of what would happen if you stopped. The fear could be fueled by loss of financial security, a sense of belonging or even a sense of duty. Don’t worry! I’m not going to ask you to quit. Just admit what this is in your life.
It’s tricky because some of those “driven actions” really served us at one time, however as we evolved, they didn’t change and it might be time to adjust it in our schedule.
That brings me to the second definition…
Inspired Action - These sprout from an internal desire, rather than an external obligation. Ironically, they may not make sense, and perhaps seem frivolous at first, but over time and nurturing they reveal their true significance. They develop intuitively, and have the capacity to lead you to a far more fulfilling life. What are the inspired actions you’d like to take on next year? Hint: If you’re subscribed to this blog it probably involves writing a book.
Now, as I said, don’t quit the driven actions, but merely begin to prioritize some inspired actions, so that they have a chance to grow. See how this feels.
Finding balance between driven action and inspired action, might just fix your energy drain even better than rest. Listening to those inner longings and taking them seriously actually gives you energy rather than stealing it. It steers you toward a life, you’re much more excited about.
In 2019 I’m really excited to be creating a Maximize Your Writing Time self-study course, and the more I practice this in my own life, the more I realize how this begins by recognizing these two types of of action. After all life goes where the energy flows, and if you can gradually redirect that energy toward your highest dreams, well, that’s the end of burn out all together.