183: Energy Literacy

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Toddlers have it all figured out. When their energy is low, they get cranky, cry, or launch temper tantrums to let you know they’ve had enough and need a rest. Parents quickly learn the benefits of scheduling naps for their little ones to prevent meltdowns and protect everyone’s sanity and patience.

So why is it that when it comes to us adults, we stubbornly push through because we somehow think our energy is bulletproof and infinite?

The world events from these last few months have maxed us out. COVID is hard. Global unrest is hard. Fighting for social justice is hard. All of THIS requires a massive amount of mental stamina.

And it’s not like we had a ton of excess energy kicking around – and certainly not the kind of storage supply that’s required for resilience against negativity of this magnitude. Living your daily life took everything you had before; now, it takes even more.

This week, I’m coming in hot and fully-loaded with reinforcements. Like a budget for your energy, I’m going to help you reevaluate how you spend it, cut the waste, and reinvest in what generates high returns.

Let’s get smart about your energy consumption.

What You’ll Learn in this Episode:

  • Viewing energy as an asset
  • Take the Poor Energy Management Quiz
  • Cocooning, routine plateaus, & energy vampires
  • How to flip the script on negative self-talk
  • My top tips for energy elevation

Listen to the Full Episode

Featured on the Show:

What are you doing this summer? If you answered… making up for lost revenue, getting my health back on track, returning my attention to creating purpose, soaking up positive energy while having a bit of physically-distanced fun… Then, Focus Camp is where you’ll want to be! Take your dusty 2020 goals off the shelf and proclaim this as your virtual adventure of self-restoration. Give yourself one thing that’s just for YOU this summer and join us at Focus Camp.

Here’s what one past Focus Camp attendee has to say: “It’s a perfect mix of challenges to keep you going and on your toes, first-class support, fun calls, straight forward feedback on your work, and the feeling of working on a team!”

We’re delighted by our nomination to the global Top 25 Expat Podcasts!

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Full Episode Transcript:

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Hello. It is 07:00 am in New York 1:00 pm in Johannesburg and 6:00 pm in Bangkok. Welcome to the Expat Happy Hour. This is Sundae Schneider-Bean from www.sundaebean.com. I am a solution-orientated coach and intercultural strategist for individuals and organizations. I am on a mission to help you adapt and succeed when living abroad and get you through any life transition. My energy was so low.

I felt like if I didn’t take a break that I think I would break. So what I did is instead of waiting for that to happen, I blocked off a half day in my calendar and that was to just rest. I called it cocooning. That morning, I basically hid under my covers and I don’t think I even brushed my teeth until 11:30 in the morning.

I could feel my energy waning and I know that energy is what I need to do my best work, and I did cocoon. By the time I got out from under my covers brush, my teeth, showered, had a cup of coffee and got ready for the work day. I was feeling a little further away from the edge of exhaustion. I hopped on the call with my clients and told them about my morning of cocooning and I said, “Listen, why did I do that? Because my energy is my most valuable asset and I need to manage it wisely.”

My clients paused as if this concept was foreign to them until I said it, but resonated completely once they heard it. I mean really, our energy is our most valuable asset and we squander it worse than we would ever squander money. The day after that group coaching, I started my normal work day and in my calendar I had blocked out an hour for urgent priorities. When that hour came, I took a nap, because I was exhausted and I knew that if I didn’t replenish myself, that those around me would also suffer.

I don’t know about you, but since this whole COVID thing started, it’s been hard for so many people. Now is the time that we need to start thinking about our energy and how we spend it. I mean, if I’m really frank the first half of 2020 has pretty much sucked and we’re all looking for better days ahead right? I don’t know about you, you might be exhausted. You’re probably over introverting, you’re feeling frumpy, you’re struggling to take meaningful action, right? Maybe you’ve lost focus.

We can’t ignore what an impact things like COVID-19 have had on us. It’s this massive impact on our planet, our economy, our moods, our personal finances, right? And then at the same time, you know, if you’ve been paying attention to the news, there’s kind of a massive fight going on to create anti-racist systems fast because we’ve been slow for the last 450 years. This is going to take all of us and it’s going to take our lifetime.

Those things right now feel urgent and if you’re exhausted, you’re going to be pouring from an empty cup, and if you’re not feeling exhausted yet, if you keep going at this rate, maybe you’ll burn out. So I firmly believe that at this time we need to focus on renewing our energy so we can invest our efforts and our focus towards what matters most. Today if you’re listening to this and the week of 6 July 2020, I just announced Focus Camp. Focus Camp is exactly that, creating focus so you can invest your energy into making change, but from the inside out. What can we do to boost our energy, efforts and focus so that we have the power to show up in our lives, for our businesses or for our communities and the way that we want to most. So check it out in the link in the show notes if it feels like your energy is depleted and you want to be showing up for change in your own life or the lives of your community members in a fresh way, because your energy is your most valuable asset and you’ve got to manage it wisely.

Let’s just look at that little bit, “asset,” by definition is a useful or valuable thing. When I think about value and I think about assets I usually think about money and with money we use words like “We borrow money, we collect it, we earn it, we make it, we raise it, we run out of it, we squander it, we might waste it or we can hoard it or save it.” How do we do that when it comes to the valuable asset of our energy? I’m going to have you take a quiz to find out – how did you manage your energy? So this is going to be: The Poor Energy Management Quiz. Now you get a point for each of these things.

Let’s get started:

  1. I squander it on things that are not meaningful like mindless scrolling on Facebook or fighting with my kids about things that are unimportant.

Congratulations, give yourself one point for every activity that you can think of that fits into this category.

  1. I waste it on being upset about things that won’t change.

I don’t know, like how much time it takes to do the taxes. How boring accounting is or how much it really costs to go on vacation. Again, give yourself a point for every hour that you spend obsessing about things that won’t change.

All right, you may already have quite a few points already. Let’s go to number three number three.

  1. You spend too much of it [your energy] in one place.

I don’t know about you, but I think a lot of us grew up with grandparents who gave us some money and said, “Okay don’t spend it all in one place.” But what do we do with our energy? We give it all to work and then we have nothing left for our partner or kids when we get home. Or we give it all to that friend who needs a listening ear, but we have none left for ourselves when we want to invest in our health, like go running. If this seems familiar, give yourself one point for every single time you’ve felt drained in these situations.

  1. You run out of it.

Maybe it’s like poor planning. You never go on a road trip without filling in gas first, but in your everyday lives, you might be exhausted for an event that means the world to you. Just because you invested all of your energy in the thousand other areas of your life that are calling your attention before you actually got there. All right, for those of you who are competitive, count your points.

Congratulations, many of you listening will have anywhere between 5 to 20 points and you’ve scored high on The Poor Energy Management Quiz. Okay, I’m joking with you, but listen, I’ve been there. You don’t think I’ve racked up points on this quiz before? I’ve been sloppy with the ways I’ve spent my energy. I’ve paid for it and so have my loved ones because of me and it’s taken me years to reverse some of these trends. Of course, I’m still working on it and so are my clients. We all know there are better ways to spend our energy, but what if we were committed to being as smart with our energy as we want to be with money.

What if we focused on how you could raise it?

If you focus on how you could raise your energy, maybe you’d be more selective about what you did in the first five minutes of your morning. Maybe be mindful about the kind of music you listen to or the scents you put in your home or the people that you spend time with. Let’s embrace this idea of raising our energy like we would raise the level of our money in our bank accounts.

What about receiving it?

Everyone loves to get a little birthday money from a grandparent, you know as a child. We receive it gladly when you’re 12, and you’ve now got a little money to splurge on something important to you. But how often do we focus on the energy we receive from others. Are we allowing negative energy into our bodies? That is not welcome. Or even crazier, are we blocking positive energy within ourselves when people compliment us or tell us that they love us, What if we looked at our energy differently and focused on receiving it carefully.

What if we saved it?

We were careful about the battles we pick. One of the best advice I got from a friend about parenting and I’m not following it yet, like I want to, but the advice is this: Pick one thing to fight about with your kids per day, and then throughout your day, you ask yourself: Is this worth being the one thing? With that one question, you can save so much energy.

What if we invest it?

Procrastination is a big problem for some of my clients and we might procrastinate doing the hard things that will save us time and money later, like getting your folders. organized on your drive or getting a system and your business that will help you reach out to clients more efficiently. What if we were super careful with investing our energy so that we got a long-term return on it? All right, so I think we both agree that energy is an important asset and we need to manage it wisely.

My hope for you is that you’re thinking about the ways in which you might be squandering your energy and looking that as hard as it is, in the mirror and inspired by some new ways, you might invest your energy or protect your energy and manage it as well as you would any other precious asset. Because I get it, it’s so easy to be reckless with our energy, but we do have things that are within our control to change it.

I believe that your energy is your most valuable asset and I want you to manage it wisely. So as I mentioned we just opened the doors for Focus Camp this week and we’re going to work on elevating your energy. I’ll talk about a couple ideas here now and you can check out the link in the show notes if you want to dive deeper. What I am offering now is an invitation for you to think about what you could do differently.

So tip number one to elevate your energy you could disrupt your routines and infuse your day with fresh energy. You could interrupt yourself talk for fresh thoughts, fight for a cause for fresh action and love on your people for fresh connection. So just look at a couple of those quickly and then I’ll leave it up to you whether you want to invest your energy in something like this. So for example, last week I introduced some of these ideas in my facebook community Expats on Purpose, and it was amazing to see what happened when the members disrupted their routines and got fresh energy. One participant decided to ditch the glass of ‘wind down wine’ and started writing for 30 minutes instead. That is something that brought her calm and energy.

If you break free from your routines, you can create fresh energy. I know routines and habits are meant to conserve energy, but they also repeat patterns and right now, just as today at lunch, I was saying how my life is a little bit like Groundhog Day. I get up in the morning, I have a coffee, check my messages, I start work, I have lunch with the family, I work, I run, we make a meal, I go to bed. Repeat, rinse, repeat, rinse. I Need a disruption in my routine to bring more energy because right now I feel a plateau. So this morning I decided to disrupt my routine instead of running at 5 in the evening, I’m going to start in the morning and watch what happens. For you, maybe you want to do something different to disrupt your routine and make a deposit in your energy bank.

It could be like smiling at a stranger, helping someone at a grocery store, without disrupting social distancing. Maybe you could wear expensive perfume that you never wear or do something new that you value, like being completely present with your kids, undivided attention for 15 minutes, while you read a book. Me, I’m disrupting my routine by running at a different time and hoping that it adds fresh energy. Think about what you want to do.

I know many of us talk to ourselves worse than we would ever let anyone talk to us, and it’s time to interrupt your self-talk for fresh thoughts. It’s kind of simple, your thoughts create your emotions, your emotions influence your behaviors and those behaviors create the impact in your life. So if you change your thoughts, you can make a change, not in every case, but in a lot of cases. So what’s that nagging thought that is weighing you down, right?

Maybe you’re saying “Oh, I’m never going to lose this 10 kilo that I’ve gained from COVID.” And if that’s the thought that you have, well if you believe it maybe you’re feeling frustrated or maybe you’re feeling disappointed in yourself, but you’re certainly not feeling like you see a clear path to change right? So instead you could be thinking “It’s okay, I gained 10 kilos, no big deal. I know how to take good care of myself and that starts today.” If you believe that I am starting to take care of myself today, then your mood lifts, your emotions change and maybe you start making a plan and taking small steps forward on that plan that will make an impact eventually. So interrupt your self-talk for fresh thoughts.

Another one that we’re working on is what if you took fresh action by fighting for a cause that you believed in. Oftentimes, we’re so focused on ourselves. We go inward on what we can do with our lives, but what we know from research is when we move the focus away from ourselves and towards something bigger than us, that can give us energy in ways that is very profound. So what is it that you believe in? Is it about reversing climate change? Is it about social justice? what is it?

If you take action, one small step toward making a positive contribution to something you believe in, that would fill you with energy and it helps a cause that means a lot to you. Okay, so that’s a third thing. What is some fresh action you can take to fight for a cause that means a lot to you? And finally one thing that you can do to boost your energy is to create fresh connection.

You know me if you followed Expat Happy Hour long enough, you know, one of my philosophies is to love the crap out of your people. Who could you call today and let them know that you love the crap out of them? Could you send them a message, leave them a video, meet them with two meters distance, or send them something special in the mail? Whatever it is, that act of loving can bring you energy.

All right, those are just four ideas, but it’s a taste of what we’re going to do inside Focus Camp. You are welcome to join us. Doors are open now and spots are limited, so let’s connect and see if this is the right fit for you. If you are late to the game and you’re listening to this later, reach out and I will let you know if we have another Focus Camp in the pipeline. Remember, your energy is your most precious resource. I would absolutely love to be by your side – along with your focus squad – as you commit to using it wisely.

What it really is about is, Focus. It’s about saying yes to managing your energy as your most valuable asset and when you do that, you focus on what’s most important to you.

All right, you have been listening to Expat Happy with Sundae Schneider Bean. Thank you for listening. Don’t forget your energy is your most valuable asset, manage it wisely and keep your eyes and ears open for something coming up next week, that is related to doing more with your energy by focusing on what’s most important to you.

I’ll leave you with the words from Jim Loehr. He is a world-renowned performance psychologist: “Energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance.”

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