I just finished reading one of Cesar Millan’s books on understanding dogs and was struck by this idea: When you’re choosing a dog, you’ll be happier in the long run not by picking a certain breed, but by picking a dog that matches your energy. I was helping place puppies last weekend at the Animal Refuge league and offered this advice to a number of folks looking at puppies – some of whom were mellow and others rowdy – and it seemed to help our visitors choose a puppy that was a good “fit”.
Afterward, I got to thinking about how this same energy assessment applies to work. If you’re at a company where everyone works 60-70 hours a week and you like spending less time at work and more at home, good luck feeling in balance. Conversely, if you have a job that requires you to sit all day and you’re high energy, you either sit and aren’t happy. Or you’re up and around all the time making it hard for others to work! I felt this when I worked for a big company that was all about the status quo when I wanted to try new things, to create change. It was a bad match!
Energy balance also applies to friends. If you’re high energy and have a friend who is really laid back, doesn’t it make you crazy that you’re the one who is always initiating plans? And conversely, if you’re mellow and have a hyper friend, don’t you feel your energy drain just thinking about them? If your friends have different energy levels than you, it’s hard to relax and feel comfortable either way.
And how about travel? If you love hanging on out a beach or working your way through little shops, I’d drive you crazy if we traveled together because I’m always on the look out for museums and nature parks. Some people are energized by a well-planned trip. Others thrive on wandering an undefined path. Where do you find energy when you travel?
The trick is you don’t always know what you’re getting yourself into with work, friends, or travel but you can take responsibility for yourself to understand where you thrive. Then you look for balance.
Let’s do a little energy assessment. Picture a typical week. What aspects of the week give you the biggest thrill just thinking about them?
- Is it work?
- Projects you work on in your free time – like reading, writing, cooking, or creating?
- Is it time with groups of friends?
- Or time with one particular friend?
- Does volunteer work get you jazzed?
- Are you taking a class you love?
Now think about what you find draining. Where do you lose energy in a typical week?
If you’re committed or obligated to continue to do things that drain you, how can you join some of what you love with things you’re committed to? What can you mix to find more balance? Or is it time to make a change and move away from low energy activities altogether?
Change isn’t easy. But you have one life. Wouldn’t it be nice to live it with full, balanced energy?
Cheers to you for an awesome, balanced week.