I believe each of us wants to discover and live a life filled with purpose. Just take a look at the numerous methods and guideposts for discovering what inspires you. Yet having the energy to pursue one’s dreams is another thing altogether.
Going after goals takes work…to keep your motivation alive, show up with discipline when the going gets tough, and climb over all the obstacles that inevitably fall in your path. This grit and courage must be backed by stamina, if we’re going to keep our commitments and never give up.
Knowing how to recharge our batteries, and how much energy to keep in reserve, is essential to living our best life. Equally as important, though, is being able to recognize those things that drain our strength and lead us to make less-than-ideal choices.
Cultivation of energy is a lifelong process…and like breathing, you have to keep doing it. Rather than throw a slew of tips and suggestions at you, however, let’s start with an inquiry into your needs. Understanding how various thoughts, behaviors, and habits affect your energy levels is the first step to living a purpose-driven life.
Sometimes our energy levels fluctuate so rapidly between highs and lows that it seems impossible to pinpoint the causes for each state—the edges blur together in a haze of late nights and early morning coffees. However, you can identify the driving factors behind how you feel by taking an inventory of past experiences.
Think of a time in your life when you were blessed with a natural, enduring energy. It could be long past or quite recent, and may have lasted a couple hours, days, or months at a time. Imagine yourself back in that situation, taking a few moments to explore your memories, thoughts, and feelings in vivid detail.
Then consider the following questions:
Now reflect back to a time when your reserves were low…when simply getting through the day was a struggle. Did it start with a particular event, or creep up slowly and almost unnoticeably? Recall what it felt like to live at the bottom of the energy curve.
With that in mind, ask yourself:
Looking back on these two very different states, you may be able to pick up some subtle ways that your behaviors or choices either contributed to your energy or detracted from it. If you’re not quite sure, try going back through more examples of both highs and lows throughout your life, and search for common threads.
What we’re attempting to identify is a keystone habit: a single behavior or set of choices that leads to effortless breakthroughs in other areas of your life. These are the things you do that make everything else easier, and often are the actions upon which the rest of your day is made or broken.
As you considered the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that accompanied moments of great passion and vitality in your life…
Keep reading to discover some of the ways that we can subtly but deliberately influence our drive to engage with life. As you scroll through the following categories, notice if certain ones are being fueled by your daily choices, and which ones feel as if they’ve been neglected recently.
For a more detailed inquiry into these potential keystone habits, download this week’s extensive workbook below, and ask yourself some deeper questions…
Our culture doesn’t place much attention on optimizing the quantity or quality of our sleeping hours. However, physical rest, or lack thereof, can have profound effects upon our energy. If you’re getting adequate sleep, you likely possess the ability to pursue all manner of goals. But if you’re not prioritizing your body’s need to recharge, then you may feel unable to enjoy the meaningful life you desire.
The food we eat provides the fuel our bodies require to keep us going. We don’t need a degree in biochemistry to know what type of foods burn the cleanest and help us feel our best. Nor must we achieve nutritional perfection in order to live vibrant lives. If we’re seeking to boost our energy, though, recognizing and choosing those foods that match our needs goes a long way towards fueling our passions.
Our bodies were meant to move. Not necessarily marathons or powerlifting, though we can certainly train them up for these demanding sports. What they really crave, though, is the simple, daily act of getting out of our chairs and off our backsides. Our ideal movement can be either gentle or intense…but it works best when we incorporate an element of play.
Part of what keeps us energized is a sense of interest in what we’re doing. The desire to learn, build skills, and make mental connections creates a vitality all its own. To succeed in pursuit of our dreams, it helps to fix our focus squarely on our goals.
Life is seldom easy, and we all make mistakes. A willingness to see failures as stumbling points in a larger journey can transform not only our outlook, but our perceived energy levels too. Approaching life with a beginner’s mind and the determination to keep trying fosters an attitude where our energy is supported rather than wasted.
The one voice we can never escape is the track playing in our heads from morning to night. Unlike a radio or tv that we can click off, our thoughts are constantly blaring at us. And the content, as well as the tone, of our words plays an integral part in supporting or undercutting our energy.
Whether or not we feel seen, heard, and loved plays a huge role in our ability to engage with life. We’ve previously discussed ways in which we can learn to speak our own love language in order to fill our tank. What you may not realize is that this fuels not just our hearts, but our minds and bodies as well. Being emotionally grounded and supported is an essential foundation for pursuing our purpose with passion.
When we feel energized and happy, it’s easy to be present with our emotions. But what about sadness, anxiety, anger, or loneliness? Most of the time we try to run from these painful feelings, to spare ourselves the suffering. Yet this only drains our energy, like a small child who sings at the top of their lungs to avoid hearing an unwanted truth. In reality, the willingness to feel our feelings allows us to move through our fear, and returns us to a state of positive energy.
Expressing appreciation for what you have brings out feelings of peace and contentment that in turn allow us to support those we love. A spirit of gratitude goes a long way towards creating the energy necessary for building our dreams. Sharing our gifts and talents with others also increases our interpersonal energy within our community.
For those who belong to a religious community or follow a spiritual path, connecting with your beliefs is a powerful source of strength. Whether you experience increased energy from community worship or silent prayer, putting your beliefs into practice provides a centered core of support for your daily activities.
Separate from a formal religious or spiritual practice, many people find that the end result of personal growth is appreciating our connection to a greater whole. Recognizing our unique place within the Universe creates an open space where our creative energies can flow free. Understanding that we’re not alone, but rather connected to all human beings through love, allows for a compassionate renewal of energy during times when we struggle.
Though it’s easy to live most of our lives behind steel, timber, and glass, our societies developed in the framework of a symbiotic relationship with the natural world. Our biological clocks still turn with the seasons and circadian rhythms. Stepping outside into Nature reminds us of how our physiological energy is reset and renewed by nourishing this connection.
Among these various ways of boosting our resources, there is often a single keystone habit that will allow everything else to fall into place. Most of us know the physical ways to keep our engines running smoothly, but the mental, emotional, and spiritual habits listed above can also sustain your energy if they are practiced regularly. Discovering which ones facilitate a sense of stamina and excitement is key to fueling your passion and creating your best life.
Stay small, and commit to only one improvement this week. Pay careful attention to any changes in how you feel.
My routine for optimal energy includes a gratitude practice, kind self-talk, and connection with Nature. Yet my keystone habit is sleep! It’s what gives me the focus and ability to put everything else into play. So my Small Step is designing a better evening routine to get me under the covers a little earlier at night.
Maintaining your engagement with life is a lot like putting gas in your car—if you want to go far, you have to start with a full tank. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to re-fuel. There’s sure to be something you can do to bring your energy levels up, no matter how busy or chaotic your life is. Just remember to start small and build on your gains.
Self-care begins with self. Recognizing what fuels and saps your energy means that you can take control over how much you have available to draw upon.
Coming up, we’ll explore how to balance where our energy flows and to prioritize the time for self-care.