The older I’m getting the more like my Mum I am becoming. Not only do I feel the need to visit the lavatory when I arrive and just before I leave somewhere, I am acutely aware of who hasn’t visited the bathroom and many times, obviously without engaging my brain or sense of British decency, have subtly suggested they may need to do a wee before they leave.
I love and respect my Mum a lot but one of the things she has always done, that has given me and my siblings great amusement, is make copious lists. If it is on her list she will achieve it. My Mum will even mark on her calendar when she plans to phone people! She is committed, dedicated and attached to the lifeline that is her list.
And rather annoyingly this is beginning to happen to me. I have discovered the joy of a list, the release of transferring what is swirling round my head into written form and then joy of all joys ticking it off when the task is completed. I have begun to realise my completed, newly defunct lists give me a sense of achievement, a belief (well it was written down and now ticked off) that I have in part fulfilled that day’s purpose.
So imagine my dismay when I recently came upon a To Do List written at the beginning of 2015, to be completed by the end of 2015, with no viable ticks. Two whole years and NO viable ticks!! It was an untouched, incomplete list!
I spent at least ten minutes trying to reason with each item and then eventually half ticked one before quickly disposing of it as I know from my experience of coaching, its presence on my desk would be a personal and continual Energy Drainer.
If you’ve never heard of Energy Drainer’s, they are the irritants of life…along the lines of ants at a picnic, wasps in the summer and gnats at a BBQ. They are the sideshows of existence, white noise, TV adverts, in short they are not what you’ve chosen but they are having an effect on you and your performance.
My ironing pile, when it was in a cupboard I regularly opened, was an Energy Drainer as it continually reminded me of what I needed but didn’t want to do.
For my incredibly tidy, slightly OCD husband, mess is an Energy Drainer and he finds it impossible to relax in a messy room.
Energy drainers can come in many shapes and forms. Many of us will know a work colleague, friend, family member, neighbour that we try to avoid as too long in their company can leave you feeling empty. These people have been referred to as ‘vampires’ as it feels like they’re sucking the life from you. In order to maintain a healthy relationship with that person we may need to introduce boundaries.
For others an Energy Drainer may be distractions, external pressures, unmet needs, anxiety, depression, a cluttered desk, unanswered emails/texts…
Where possible Energy Drainers need to be identified, appropriately discussed and handled or they will continue to drain, divert, undermine, frustrate and generally suck the life and energy from us!
For 2017 I have made a new list that contains specific, measurable goals (learn to drive!!) and less tangible achievements (work/life balance) that I will take great pleasure in completing. But more importantly I have made a promise to myself to include in my life regular Energy Gainers.
Energy Gainers are persons, habits, events that give me energy. They are to humanity what petrol stations are to vehicles.
As someone who lives and works in the world I can’t avoid those that after five minutes in their company leave me feeling like an empty, dry, drained orange segment, but I can readdress the balance by ensuring my diary allows time for those who give me energy.
As someone who loves cleanliness I can’t remove the dreariness of housework from my life but I can stay on top of it so it never seems like an insurmountable mountain (which my ironing pile has sometimes resembled).
Life generally requires that I ‘do’ things, meet certain obligations that for me are Energy Drainers, for some of these tasks, by mentally reframing how I approach them, it will help me keep a sense of purpose and equilibrium.
Unfortunately reframing doesn’t deal with everything, so in 2017 I will embrace the words from Proverbs 4:25 (MSG) ‘Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions’ and for every Energy Drainer that I need to face I will fix my eyes on, and fill my diary with an Energy Gainer.
The photo above was from my first successfully completed Energy Gainer of this year: a visit to the theatre with my lovely sister and Mum…check out the smiles!!
I want to encourage you to take some time to recognise, manage and maybe even discard those aspects of your life that drain you and look at filling your days with as many energy giving activities and people as possible!