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Increasing My Energy

15 February 2022

Janie read Off Balance: Getting Beyond the Work-Life Balance Myth to Personal and Professional Satisfaction by Matthew Kelly and considered what changes she can make to help her achieve her goals and increase her overall satisfaction.

Tags: balance, janie read, leadership, off balance

I have several goals for myself this year. One of the things that is very clear to me is that if I want to achieve any of them, I need to do some things differently than I have in the past. Allison recently recommended Off Balance: Getting Beyond the Work-Life Balance Myth to Personal and Professional Satisfaction by Matthew Kelly when she spoke to the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce Minority Business Alliance. I picked it up curious to learn more.

Early in the book, Kelly asserts that when many professionals go in search of work-life balance, what we really want is satisfaction in both domains. The book includes an assessment comprised of twenty questions to help you determine how satisfied you are with your personal and professional life, including aspects like purpose, energy, and engagement. I learned that I’m “moderately” satisfied both personally and professionally. While that isn’t bad (and is certainly better than being deeply unsatisfied), when I reviewed my answers, I was fascinated to learn that almost all my lower scores (in both categories) related to energy. Seeing this in black and white was rather sobering, but also not terribly surprising to me.

After taking the assessment, Kelly tells you to review any questions where you had lower scores, ask yourself what changes you could make to increase your score in these areas, and make notes of all the ideas that come to you, so you can refer to them later. Kelly calls this pinpointing your dissatisfaction and creating a prescription to overcome it. After going through this process, the next step is to prioritize what is most important to you. Kelly stresses that, “without a clear sense of what our priorities are, everything is important, which means nothing is important.” He provides a priority exercise in the book to help you clarify what is most important to you. Once you’ve identified your priorities, Kelly recommends establishing some core habits to help you make changes in the areas you’ve identified as high priority. Kelly provides suggestions to help you address the different aspects of dissatisfaction and encourages you to retake the assessment every few months to help measure whether the changes you’ve made have had any impact on your overall satisfaction.

Upon reflection, I realized I could be doing more to try to increase my overall energy, and that having more energy is critical to all of the goals I want to accomplish. I decided to focus on a few small changes that I could incorporate fairly easily to see if it helped with my overall energy. For the past two weeks, I’ve been making sure I do these three things every workday.

  1. Schedule two short breaks in my calendar. This might sound silly, but I’ve found that having this scheduled in my calendar each day reminds me to get up from my desk and stretch. (Without this reminder, it’s not uncommon for me to lose track of time and sit at my desk without moving for hours.) 
  2. Drink more water. I always have a water bottle with me at my desk, but just because it’s there, doesn’t mean I always drink it. I prefer my water very cold and have recognized that if it gets warm, I won’t drink it. Now, when I get a reminder to take a break, I make a point to grab my water bottle and either refill it or add ice. Doing this has led to me consistently drinking more water throughout the day.
  3. Have a plan for lunch. What works best for me is to bring lunch with me to work, so when I get hungry, I don’t have to think about what I’m going to eat, and I don’t have to take a lot of time to do it. (I’ve found that if I don’t bring something with me, my tendency is to not eat anything all day, because I don’t want to take the time it would take to go get something.)

Taking breaks and drinking water doesn’t require any forward thinking but having a plan for lunch only happens if I think about it in advance. For me, this means making sure our groceries are restocked and doing some food prep over the weekend. I’ve always done my primary grocery shopping on the weekend, but for the past two weeks I’ve been deliberate about shopping in the morning and then taking an hour or so to do a bit of food prep when I get home. Being intentional about doing this was my plan to set me up for a better workweek, but I’ve been surprised to see how much it has also improved my weekends. I’ve found that taking care of this early in the day has meant that I am in a better mood and have more energy to enjoy the rest of the day with my family. Opening the fridge and seeing the results of my hour of food prep is very satisfying and has meant that I’m more inspired to cook. When I cook dinner more regularly, it almost always results in leftovers, which makes having a plan for lunch much easier.

I know my goals aren’t going to be achieved simply from taking breaks, drinking more water, and eating lunch every day. However, in just two weeks, I can already see how making these changes has increased my energy and I know that having more energy will help me make progress in other areas as well. As I work toward my goals for this year, I plan to retake this assessment every few months to help me measure my progress and to keep me accountable. If the idea of having more personal and professional satisfaction resonates with you, I encourage you to read Off Balance and follow Kelly’s recommendations.


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