Have you ever thought about what’s draining your energy and what to do about it?

In our fast-paced and ever-changing world, we react to things and don’t realize the negative impact until later. These energy drains can lead to all sorts of issues and keep you from a satisfying career and happy life.

You’re probably familiar with the typical energy drains: not enough sleep, not drinking enough water, little to no physical activity, too much TV or social media, not eating well. In addition, you may be struggling with habits, coping mechanisms, and other situations that have an impact on your energy levels and wellbeing.

When I worked in corporate, the pressure to perform was extreme and unfair. There was a lot of complaining and working in HR, I heard it from all directions. There wasn’t time to take a breath, step back and act with intention. Things felt out of control. Add in office politics, power plays and changing priorities, along with the latest fire to put out, it was the definition of an energy drain on steroids.

These perfect-storm situations suck the life out of you, are unproductive, and at times physically and mentally debilitating. It crushes your spirit, and your happiness.

The Little Things That Drain Your Energy

The little things that drain your energy are the things you just handle. They seem insignificant, or not worth giving much thought. Unfortunately, they add up over time.

You ignore them, or think they’ll get better on their own without making any kind of focused effort toward making it better. Typically, you don’t act until it gets so bad that you can’t stand it anymore.

For example, let’s say you have a messy desk, and your desktop and folders on your PC are disorganized too. These are the little things that keep you from finding things easily. When you have to spend extra time to find something, you get frustrated. Your work and how effective you are suffers as a result.

Other little things that drain your energy are unfinished work items like a project that you push aside for more urgent matters.

Unmade decisions, like hiring a new team member or buying a new mobile phone, pick away at your vitality too. Every time you think about how you haven’t made that decision, it robs you of your energy.

Clutter, in all its forms, drains your energy too. It could be a garage overflowing with unnecessary things you’ll never use again or the clutter in your head as you worry about things outside of your control.

One last thing that you might not realize is an energy drain is a toxic relationship you tolerate. These are the one-sided friendships or the negative friends that leave you drained after spending any amount of time with them.

Let’s say you plan to have an enjoyable lunch with a friend, and the entire conversation is all about her and her problems, all the negative things in the world and a rant about politics.

When you finally get a chance to share about you she’s on her phone or has to leave. It’s exhausting. These types of relationships are energy vampires – they suck all the life out of you and you leave feeling tired, numb and upset.

The Big Things That Drain Your Energy

The big things that drain your energy are the things you know are diminishing the quality of your life. You may accept them as normal, as I did when I brought work home to do in the evenings and weekends. Or tolerating a toxic work environment as if all companies would be the same.

These big things may stem from a habitual pattern you have, like taking things personally when they have nothing to do with you. That in turn leads to hurt feelings and strained relationships.

They may be the things you don’t know how to effectively deal with, like a demanding boss, a challenging relationship with your child or an aging parent who needs more time than you can give them. All draining your energy.

Remember that life is a journey and it’s meant to have positive and negative aspects. You don’t need to create suffering, there will be plenty of it naturally.

Your goal with small and big energy drains is to acknowledge they exist, accept what they’re costing you and then move beyond them.

Here’s a 3 step process to intentionally address how to do this.

Take Intentional Action

1. Make a short list of the energy drains, or obstacles, getting in your way of being satisfied and happy – include 5 from work and 5 from home.

2. Next, ask yourself what each of these items is costing you and write that down. It could be loss of time, exhaustion, inconvenience, frustration, loss of health or wellbeing, strained relationships, or missed opportunities.

For example, your closet is a disaster and every morning it takes way too long to find the clothes you want to wear, usually making you late and frustrated (cost = frustration, being late, anger).

Or you haven’t decided to start looking for another job yet despite thinking about it for months given the current climate at your workplace. It’s causing you stress every time you think about it or when you see colleagues taking action to benefit their careers. The cost here is the negative impact of stress on your health and wellbeing, plus loss of quality sleep since it’s been keeping you up at night too.  

3. Lastly, find ways to eliminate, minimize or manage these obstacles. Start off with an easy one, like plan two hours to clean out and organize your closet or garage this weekend. Or commit to updating your resume one evening this week. Click here for help with getting organized.

Delegation works well too. If your energy drain is finding the time to keep a clean home, delegate it by hiring someone else to clean it.

Some of these obstacles could be intentionally delayed. For example, if you need to buy a new computer you can put a day in your calendar for three weeks from now to start the research and shopping, when you’ll have more free time on the weekends.

When you eliminate an obstacle, you’ll feel like a weight’s been lifted when you make that decision. It could be as simple as refusing to spend time with any energy vampires or others that don’t treat you well. Or deciding to not participate in any workplace gossip or drama is another empowering and energizing step.

Keep working your list until you’ve moved beyond all your obstacles that are draining your energy. At any point in the future, redo this process to ensure you’re keeping your energy and wellbeing at optimal levels.

Photo by Twins Fisch on Unsplash