Imagine having a bank account with unlimited spending capacity – forever. Sounds unreal, right? You probably think “Whom would I need to kill for that?” or “Would I need to sell my soul to have such an account?”
We all understand that to be able to spend money, the money needs to come from somewhere. Sometimes it might come from us winning a lottery, or as a heritage. But most often we need to put some effort in to get the money – we need to earn it. So why on earth do we think of our energy differently? To me, this is a resource just like money – it has to come from somewhere. No matter whether you are the one planning a monthly budget for your spending or not, you know that amazing feeling when you have a dream, save up for it till it becomes your new reality. That dream can be something small like buying a new plant for your home (true story from my student times), a trip to a beautiful destination, or even a new home. And you know well – from experience or at least common sense – that planning and small steps can help you dramatically to live up to those dreams quicker.
Now, think about your energy the same way. We all have dreams, and most (if not all) of them require our vitality, both to reach them and to enjoy their fulfillment. Just like with money, we only have this and that much vigour to spend in our days and weeks. Are you spending on small unnecessary things left and right, or are you saving up for what truly brings you joy? How about revising your spending and create an energy budget?
I recently came up with this analogy of energy budget for a coachee of mine, and I want to share it with you. While going through this process, you will understand your current situation, analyse how it differs from where you want to be, and create a roadmap to fill in the gap. Think of the energy you can spend per day as, say, 100 Joules. List all your activities and thoughts for a day. Categorise them to make the information easier to grasp – for example, “household”, “consuming media”, “learning”, “relationships” etc. Give each category an estimate – how much of your energy goes into those tasks and worries? Does that number end up to 100? Create a pie chart to visualise your analysis.
Now ask yourself the following questions:
– Am I spending my precious 100 Joules on the things that give me something in return?
– Do these activities and thoughts nourish, inspire, and support me?
– Do I have any return on investment here?
– If I am spending more than what I have – what has to go?
– If I don’t have enough energy for my dreams and desires – how can I free up some resource to fit them into my life?
Your goal is to spend at the level of 85-90 Joules and keep generating a hundred.
Because we all know – life happens. Activities may eat up more of our resources than we anticipated, unexpected events can take place and cost us some precious Joules. You want to have a buffer for those occasions to be able to thrive. Next, analyse whether you feel like you do generate those 100 Joules daily. Or are you operating at 50% of your potential? And for how much energy do you plan? Are you there? Just as with putting money aside for your dreams, you can save energy by spending less of it – on things that drain you too much. You can work on generating more drive as well – by doing things that recharge your batteries and bring you joy. This far into the process of creating an energy budget you have visualised your current state and know how you want to spend your energy wisely.
Now it’s time to set a framework that you will be used as a sanity check for everything that comes your way. Let’s say you are at the level of spending 95 Joules when you get news from your employer that they will have to start displacing people due to the pandemic crisis affecting the business. Before you start spending your energy on worrying about that piece of information, or looking for a new job, pause and think: do your actions fit in the remaining 5 Joules you have to spend? If not, can you spend 5 only – by focusing on what you can affect and skipping worrying more than necessary or by not thinking about this news at all for now? After all, you are not laid off yet – and most probably will not be at all.
If you think that this situation does require more than 5 Joules of your energy, then take a moment and think where else can you save today – to have enough to react to the displacement information. You see, the approach here is just like with spending money – before you make a new purchase, you check the bank account to see whether you can afford it. If not, you might consider a fast loan. But you know – those loans cost you a lot. So you think twice whether you need that purchase now, especially if you can’t cut on other expenses to free up some cash for it. And whatever decision you make – you at least gave it a second thought instead of acting impulsively.
Such thought-through decisions improve our well-being on many levels – they create a healthier financial situation, they boost our self-confidence, and they generate ripple effects as we become more mindful about other areas of our lives. I want you to think of your energy as a scarce, precious resource that you need to manage wisely. And you have all the knowledge to do so. Just look at your bank statement for a proof!
With all my love and care,