Five Easy Steps To Eliminate Things That Drain Your Energy
Energy drains are anything we tolerate and/or put up with. They distract us from more important things in life and drain our physical, mental, and emotional energy. Thomas Leonard, the founder of the coaching movement, defined them as “compromises we’ve talked ourselves into.” They come in many shapes, sizes, and forms. They can take the form of tolerating a disrespectful co-worker, neighbor, family member, or friend, or they can be a distasteful role we play in one of those relationships. They can be as subtle as a small object in our physical space that brings our spirits down or putting off a simple task like sewing a missing button back on our favorite shirt. AND, they can be as large as tending to a chronically ill relative. Many things drain our energy.
We’ve become desensitized to the cost of our energy drains
Energy drains take a toll on us, and by their very nature, they also desensitize us. Sadly, we aren’t even aware of this additional drain. In other words, we’re desensitized to our desensitizing. For example, say you want to enjoy some beautiful music. You turn on your favorite music and are happily listening when suddenly there’s a lot of other noise filling your space. The people next door are arguing, horns are honking outside, and the dishwasher is running. You are unconscious of the fact that you have to strain to hear your music. But in reality, part of your energy is going into hearing your music and part of your energy is going into NOT hearing the disturbing noise. Ultimately, you’re hearing less music. In the same way, tolerating our energy drains, causes us to block out much of life’s happiness.
- Make our work mediocre because our natural creativity is compromised.
- Render us too tired to function optimally.
- Interfere with our ability to live authentically.
So, what DO we do? I coach my clients through a 5-step process to help them become energy drain free… And here is how you can too.
Five easy steps to becoming
an energy drain free zone
Step One: What isn’t acknowledged can’t be addressed.
Make a list of everything you can think of that’s draining your energy. Because we put up with, take on, accept, and are dragged down by more than we are aware of, I recommend you leave the initial list and return to it over several days. Studies show that the average person is tolerating more than 200 energy drains at any given moment, so don’t be surprised if your list goes on for pages and pages.
Step Two: Identify your Pivotal energy drains.
When eliminated, a pivotal energy drain will automatically eliminate several other energy drains on your list. For example, finding a better paying job can eliminate the energy drain of driving an unreliable car (because you can get it fixed or buy a new one), a messy house (because you may be able to hire a housekeeper), and worrying about paying bills on time (because you’ll more likely be able to pay them). So look for your pivotal energy drains first.
Step Three: Identify the hard and soft costs of your energy drains and how can you benefit from eliminating them.
Energy drains have a ripple effect. Not only do they impact your energy, but they can also cost you time and money. For example, imagine you have pre-school aged children, you work, and your baby sitter arrives late once or twice a month. She’s great with the children, they adore her, she’s affordable, and you don’t want the hassle of having to find someone new if she quits, so you tolerate her lateness. On the days she arrives late, do you have to rush to work instead of being able to drive comfortably and arrive relaxed? Do you get lousy parking spots and have to walk much further to get to your building (especially bothersome in inclement weather)? Do you feel like you are letting the other employees down because they have to cover your work until you get there? At review time, do you hesitate to ask for a raise because you know that you’ve been habitually late rendering you less than a stellar employee? As you can see, the costs of energy drains can go well beyond the obvious.
Ask yourself how life would change if the pivotal energy drain no longer existed? How might you benefit by eliminating it? In this example, if you speak to your childcare provider about her tardiness, would it be worth the short-term adjustments it might require should she quit in a huff? How likely is she to quit and what contingency plans can you make in case she does?
Having explored the hard and soft costs, and considered contingency plans in the event of the “worst-case scenario,” has
Step Four: Create your energy drain elimination plan.
Plan on eliminating one energy drain a day. That’s right! One-per-day. Change the furnace filter, make that dentist appointment, change that burned-out light bulb, sew on that button, get the car inspected, talk with that family member or, as in the example above, the babysitter whose behavior is not acceptable, etc. Cross each off your list as you go. You’ll be surprised how much energy these little things are using every time you think about them. Each energy drain is like a little bit of air going out of a car’s tire. Eventually, it becomes flat.
Schedule time to address the time-consuming energy drains on your calendar. AND HONOR YOURSELF BY DOING THEM, no excuses. You wouldn’t schedule doing something for a friend or family member and not do it. Treat yourself just as well as you would another. Honor the commitment you’ve made to yourself.
When the items on your list seem large, things like cleaning out the attic, writing your resume, setting up that garage sale you’ve been postponing for years, etc., make a plan. You may need to break down overwhelming tasks into sub-lists and schedule them rather than tackling the entire energy drain at once. Also, others may need to be involved. Make sure they are on board as well (we’ll address this further in step five).
One less thing to think about means one less thing draining your energy. When you start eliminating even the smallest energy drains, you’ll feel energized and that will give you
Step Five: Set it up correctly
Okay, this is really the first step, but it may not have made sense if I shared it first. It’s only fair to tell those who are going to be affected by the changes you are making such as family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, and even employees what you are doing. Let those around you know that you are taking on the challenge of becoming an energy drain free zone. Invite them to help you by telling them you want, need, and expect their support. Be nice about it, but make it clear that you will no longer be tolerating some of the things you have traditionally tolerated. Give examples of what you mean and specifics about what you want from them.
If a targeted energy drain involves someone’s behavior, be careful to be kind and gentle. After all, you are the one who taught them it was okay to treat you this way, so it’s only fair to spend a little time explaining how and why you are changing specific areas in your life and talk about the things that are no longer okay for you. This is not about being self-righteous. You are taking the necessary steps to honor yourself. Honor your friends, family, colleagues, etc. in the process by explaining that you may not be accepting, tolerating, or overlooking the things you have in the
You will undoubtedly get some push back. Some people will have to change as a result of your changes, and often that makes them uncomfortable. Stick to your guns. Remember this is about growing you.
As you move through this step, a coach can prove very beneficial by helping you stay motivated, as well as helping you to script and even role-play some of the difficult conversations you may need to have.
The average person is tolerating more than 200 things at any given moment. Get some help eliminating them.
Do you have energy drains exhausting you? Are you worried about the pushback you may receive if you assert yourself? Does the idea of changing scare you? If you are interested in eliminating your energy drains and could use some support, Schedule your FREE EXPLORATORY SESSION here. I promise, there will be no hard sell. I have no personal attachment to the outcome of our conversation beyond your feeling better for our having had it. For more information about living authentically, click here and get your FREE copy of my “GUIDE TO AUTHENTIC LIVING: Ten Things People Who Live Authentically Know And Do…And So Can You.”