In Part 1 of Plugging the Energy Drain, I talked about how I turned my life around after realizing how chaotic it had become. I discussed how a person’s environment or habitat can impact their life by either being supportive and energizing or draining. By reducing the drains in our habitats we can build a stronger support system for ourselves and others.
Here is a tool to use to identify and address your energy drainers. It is up to you to decide the cost vs. benefit of any change you make in your habitat. Remember though, clearing up your energy drainers will go a long way in giving you the supportive atmosphere and energy to focus on what is important to you, and get the best return on investment. You have to take care of yourself first to really be able to care for others.
Plugging the Drain
1. First, list out your energy drainers, giving each of them a name. Sticky notes or note cards work well. Put one drainer on each sheet and stick them to the wall or the table. These drainers could be situations, people, things, or a combination. Piles of paperwork on your desk, that squeaky door hinge that needs to be oiled, the atmosphere in the office at work, or maybe your mother-in-law. It could even be more internal things like: negative self talk, poor money management, consistently running late, issues with procrastination, feelings of low self-worth, etc. Energy drains can be different for everyone, and there is no right or wrong answer on your list. It’s OK if it’s short list. Just start somewhere.
2. Separate your ideas into three categories.
- Things I can’t change or control;
- Things I can have an impact on, but can’t control; and
- Things I can change and control.
Things I Can Change and Control
These are the things you are 100% responsible for creating or for letting happen. Staying up too late at night on Facebook, reading blogs, or maybe impulsive spending, poor time management, or other unhealthy activities. These are the habits you have that don’t serve you well.
Start creating an action plan for each item to deal with the energy drain. Write the plan down so you can go back to it. Track your progress and reassess your action plan if necessary. Talk to someone you can trust about your plan to ask for support and to create accountability.
Things I Can Have An Impact On, But Can’t Control
This could be the –ism that you manage at home, or that person you know or have to work with that is always in a bad mood, over critical, or just has poor boundaries. You can’t make people change who they are or what they do. However, you can have an impact on the situation by trying to set up boundaries and a clear plan for managing situations.
Write out your plan for dealing with that situation. Assess the impacts you’re making to be sure how you’re dealing with the item is not more draining then it was originally. Identifying for you what your personal standards and boundaries are will be helpful in situations like this.
Things I Can’t Change or Control
You have two basic choices here: accept it or avoid it. Getting worked up over things you can’t control or change is a waste of your energy, i.e., yelling at the boarding agent at the airport because the plane is delayed for bad weather isn’t going to bump up the take off time. You’re going to get just as far slamming your head into a brick wall. By accepting the fact that you have no power here, releases you of feeling powerless. Instead, focus on what you can change, like keeping an attitude of gratitude. Having a positive attitude will reflect back to you.
The choice of avoiding, means removing that item, situation, or person from your life. Sometimes this is necessary when there is no changing it and there is no way you can tolerate it for whatever reason. This also is a way of setting personal standards and boundaries. As you start recognizing and naming more and more of your energy drains, you may be surprised by the list of items that you remove from your life.
Food for Thought
Not all energy drainers are bad; some do have a return that re-energizes you. For example, maybe you volunteer at a local food shelter. It takes your time and is a cost to your energy, but it adds a value to your life. Just be aware of whether the payoff is worth your investment, and if it is in line with your values.
My hope is that with this tool, you can access your drainers, and if you can make even a small change that will help you smile more, laugh a little louder, or give you the patience to successfully meet your day’s challenges, than this investment was worth the return.
ADD Coach Academy: Personal transformation Edition 3 “Barriers and Tolerations”.
School of Coaching Mastery: Personal Development “Your Holonic Self”.
Ursiny, PhD, T. (2005). The Confidence Plan: How to Build a Stronger You, Chapter 4.2 “Defuelers And Refuelers.” Sourcebooks, Inc.