We are often obsessed with time, and there never seems to be enough of it. We try to squeeze more into every minute of every day. We eat fast food on the run and chat on our cell phone while driving, eating, or exercising. At the end of the day, we fall into bed exhausted, but sleep doesn’t come easily because we’re worried about the next day.
In the business world, corporate trainers have seized on the concept of time management to help us organize and prioritize our time better in order to achieve more in less time. To be sure, such programs can be helpful; we can use them to stay better focused and make effective judgments about daily priorities. They are limited, however, by the fact that time itself is a finite resource. There are only 24 hours in each day (one-third of which are spent asleep). Thus, once we’ve planned our waking hours, we’ve reached our limit. Our PDAs (personal digital assistants) and laptops can list things to do, but they can’t carry them out. We may have a plan for tasks to complete but little idea of how to use our time for efficient, productive functioning. Even when we’re super-organized, it’s not always possible to operate with purpose and high energy all day long.
Here’s where personal energy management comes in. We propose to help you do two things: produce more healthy natural energy and manage it more effectively. Throughout this book, we help you understand how to create more personal energy by focusing on the physical side of energy creation. We show you how to optimize your physical energy and integrate it with your emotional, mental, and spiritual energy.
We also want your personal energy to be both renewable and sustainable. Learning how to renew your energy on a regular basis will rejuvenate and invigorate you and promote good health and appearance. Sustaining energy is a matter of adjusting your lifestyle so that your personal energy resources never become totally depleted or permanently damaged.
Consider the effect of high and low energy levels on your emotions. In figure 1.1, you can see four different cells that represent energy states as high or low and as either positive or negative. Typical feelings involving high positive energy are hopefulness, passion, challenge, and connection; other feelings of high positive energy are alertness, focus, enthusiasm, and optimistic attitude. This energy state gives you the opportunity to embrace challenges and respond in a high-quality way. It is the only type of energy that fosters full engagement with life in the moment and therefore high performance.
Of course, you can also have high energy that is negative, and it carries with it the emotions of frustration, anger, anxiety, tenseness, and fear. While these feelings may spark a high level of energy, they also interfere with your thinking and decision making. They may be helpful in case of a physical emergency when your goal is simply to survive, but in most situations a high level of negative energy is counterproductive.
Sometimes you should intentionally experience low positive energy by strategically disengaging in order to allow yourself to rest and recover in your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual dimensions. It is critical to spend sufficient time at this energy level in order to renew yourself and enable your embracing of the next challenge.
Low negative energy, on the other hand, leaves us feeling exhausted, burned out, sad, or hopeless. It can also be manifested in moodiness, irritability, and impatience. This category of energy may constitute a type of enforced recovery from stress and overwhelming challenge. It is critical that you develop skills to move out of this toxic level of negative energy.
In figure 1.1, energy level is represented on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest). Negative or positive quality is also rated from 1 (lowest negative) to 10 (highest positive).
Unfortunately, after age 30 the demands on our energy typically continue to increase even as nature plays an evil trick on us by decreasing our natural energy capacity. Figure 1.2 shows the dramatic drop (green line) in energy after age 30.
At the same time, our energy demands (red line) tend to peak in our 40s and 50s in the form of work responsibilities, family involvements, and other obligations.
It’s pretty clear, then, that the years ahead will be challenging unless you take steps now to minimize the natural energy loss that is coming your way. Our goal is to help you manage your physical energy through methods that allow you to function at a high level of energy, deal effectively with pressure and stress, and overcome the sense of time shortage. Along the way, we highlight the importance of built-in recovery time to help you recharge, refresh, and face a new day.