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Ever have moments, days, or even entire segments of your life where you feel totally alive, inspired, and in flow?  What about those times when you feel completely drained? Like the last of your Life Force has been sucked right out of you.

Yes, me too.  I’ve had both the former and the latter, which is the one I’m going to focus on first, because it seems so prevalent.  Why else would there be t-shirts that read, “I can’t adult today?”  And why would so many people wear them?

Feeling totally worn out on a daily basis is a huge wake-up call. Something is off. It might be time to adjust some of your daily habits or even seek medical advice that could uncover a physical issue. (Been there. Done that. Feeling much better, thanks.)

At the very least, regular struggles with energy depletion can be a valid reason to take brief pauses throughout the day and ask a few questions:

  • How’s my energy level right now?
  • Is what’s happening energizing or replenishing me — or not so much?
  • What can I do about it?

When you make these inquiries throughout the day you may discover a number of things in addition to how your daily habits are impacting you. You may find that your life is filled to the brim with activities, people, dramatic news stories, and interactions that are unpleasant, stressful, or just… too much. Or you are surrounded by insatiable energy vampires.

In my first book, The Intentional Networker, I devote an entire chapter to the topic of “Saying No With Grace.”  This chapter has sparked epiphanies of all kinds for a lot of readers. (It sure sparked one for me as I wrote it!)

As I was researching and writing that book, I noticed that many people I encountered (including me) were living life on autopilot. We were drifting along with the helpless, spellbound feeling that we have no control over our lives, careers, interactions, relationships, or responsibilities. We were feeling sucked-in and obligated to work-work-work, do-do-do, and say yes-yes-yes to all kinds of tasks, assignments, favors, events, people, and conversations. Including those that don’t serve us. It would have been far wiser to say “no.” But somehow we didn’t ─ or thought we couldn’t.  As a result, we became exhausted and maybe even angry, and resentful.

That’s no way to live. It’s also no way to summon the energy we need to live our best lives, do our best work, be our best selves, live out our true purpose, take care of those we love, and enjoy the interactions and people who lift us up.

So, I will emphasize the importance of asking yourself the questions I posed above. You might also try the following exercise, which remains a favorite litmus test that alerts me when my schedule gets too full. Or when I’m sensing rampant energy drainage.

After any given task, activity, event, meeting, or interaction, give it one of these three ratings:

  • A “+” (productive, pleasant, and energizing)
  • An “o” (just…meh)
  • A “-“ (a downer, drainer, upsetting, or a waste of valuable energy, time, and attention)

Rate everything you do and whatever is on your calendar for a week. You’ll quickly see patterns and situations where “energy leakage” is a problem. You’ll start seeing what lifts you up, what’s a waste of time, and what drags you down.  Will you be able to eliminate every “-“? Of course not. You are, in fact, an adult.  But, trust me, you will start to think twice about how and where you say “yes” and spend your time and attention.

Related to this, if you are struggling with people and conversations that constantly bore or upset you, drain your battery, or make your life unpleasant or exhausting, check out the last section of my new book More Than Just Talk. It’s called “Dealing with Drainers & Downers.” Here I offer a practical range of strategies and tips that will help you avoid, manage, or exit interactions with these folks at home, at work, and even at social and professional gatherings. Come to think of it, the entire book is loaded with ideas for making your conversations better, which will automatically lift you up and give you the energy boosts you need to live an enjoyable, successful, productive, healthy, and vibrant life.

You can get both books on Amazon and through other online book retailers or at BookPeople in Austin.

As a final note, I wish you an abundance of energy to do the things you love and find energizing. (I’m also secretly hoping you’ll rate this post a decisive “+.”  Maybe you’ll even offer a positive comment below.  That’s such a “+” for me!)