Soul Searching #3: energy

This is part 3 in the series of articles in which I describe my journey of personal development. Part 1 was an introduction, and part 2 dealt with ‘values’. And yes, I seem to have settled on writing a series.

After breaking my brain on ‘values’, I focused my attention on ‘energy’. The reason for looking into this topic was that I felt that I did not manage my energy properly. I was often out of energy, seemed to only recover to a minimal level, and felt depleted quite soon. So there I went, delving into topic #3.

What is ‘energy’ anyway? There is a nice paragraph here:

Personal energy is the amount of will-power you have. It’s the amount of effort you are capable of giving, within your mind and body, to things, people, or challenges. It is the power within you to fulfill your priorities. It’s the amount of physical and mental strength you have to do what your mind and body wants you to do.

Let’s dissect that. In the second sentence, it says ‘the amount of effort you are capable of giving, within your mind and body’. For me, all my will-power always came from my mind, and I completely ignored my body unless things became really bad. I called this ‘perseverance’ or ‘loyalty’.

The third sentence reads ‘It is the power within you to fulfill your priorities’. Yes … ‘priorities’. Not only do I not have priorities, I also lack the skills to set those priorities.

Then there is the last sentence: “It’s the amount of physical and mental strength you have to do what your mind and body wants you to do.”. What do you mean ‘what my body wants to do”? Isn’t my mind in control of things? Spoiler alert: some philosophy is coming up in later articles.

Wooden deck at night, possibly a roof with skylights, and above it swirling traces of light.
Photo by Federico Beccari on Unsplash

I found the paragraph above when writing this post, and I wove it in. In reality, I started by making lists: one for ‘what gives me energy [+]’, one for ‘what depletes my energy [-]’, and one for ‘fantastic events [+++]’. Every evening, I took some time to think through my day, and write down events on post-its. I seemed to be forgetting a lot, so I also made lists on Evernote. These were some of the items on those lists:

  • A fundamental conversation about bias in algorithms [+]
  • Networking with an entrepreneur who talks about his passion [+]
  • Going outside and drinking coffee [+]
  • Giving a presentation, where the content was formed organically [+++]
  • Creating mutual understanding with domain expert about a business problem [+++]
  • Listening to a talk by an inspiring person about homomorphic encryption [+++]
  • Ordering people what to do [-]
  • Company politics [-]
  • Being cynical [-]
  • Complaining [-]

My list was longer, but the you can get the gist of it. The list comprised a wide range of events relating to people, personal interests, work-things, emotions, behavior, etc. Again, no rules could be extracted from that. So I changed my approach, and decided to simply keep paying attention to my energy levels on a daily basis. I’m quite good at discovering patterns, so if there are any w.r.t. energy, then I’m sure I’ll figure it out eventually.

I wrote a bunch of questions down on a piece of paper, and I look at those every evening. It contains, e.g., the question ‘Have you been cynical today?’ , which helps me notice if my energy is off-balance. Similarly, it has the question “Have you been proud of something today?”, to help me notice extraordinarily positive events.

Well, that’s as far as got with energy. At the time of writing (March 2021), this is where I stand:

  • I expect that I can do without the questions soon, but learning to manage my energy levels will probably take some time.
  • I’m paying more attention to my body, so I’m getting more signals about energy levels (mostly when I’m running out).
  • I’m very careful with spending my energy
  • I seem to be avoiding both high and low energy levels
  • I still crash and burn now and then
  • I know how to restore my energy levels to a minimum after a ‘crash and burn’ moment
  • I have no idea how to go from a minimum level to a high level of energy

I’m still learning, trying, and discovering. I find it very interesting to observe myself this way, and I’m positive that I’ll find a way over time. See you next time!

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