Sources of Energy

You know how sometimes you have that article that you can’t finish for months, or a DIY project that you never get to, or the novel that you theoretically want to be writing but just never get to? You know you should be doing it. You actually want to be doing it because it’s something you know you enjoy but… instead you binge-watch a stupid Netflix show, or scroll through Facebook for hours, or do something else that isn’t even enjoyable and that’s definitely not as much fun as the article, the project, or the novel.

This is an indicator that you are running low on energy. And it’s obviously not physical energy that I’m talking about. You need to replenish your energy but do you know how to do that? Do you know what your sources of psychological energy are? People are often utterly clueless about this. They list what they think should be a source of energy because it sounds virtuous and right. In reality, though, most of the things on their list of psychological energy sources are actually big drains.

“It gives me energy to work out!”

Really? After working out for two hours, you come home and add 500 words to your long-suffering article? If that’s so, then great. What are you reading this for? Go work out and finish the darn article.

What people don’t realize is that the real energy-giving activities aren’t necessarily deeply virtuous. To give an example, for many people, nothing is as propellent as guilt, so their energy-giving activities are of the guilt-inducing kind.

In any case, the only way to find out is to finish this sentence: “The last time I went at that project / novel / presentation, etc like crazy and made great progress was right after I did X.” The list of these Xs will give you the real picture of what your energy sources are.

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10 thoughts on “Sources of Energy”

      1. // Your source of energy is fear. Which is very common.

        Masochism? What can one do to change that? Have you not had the same problem yourself? You have mentioned “the Russian push” before, but I am unsure in which context.

        May be, other readers of your blog also have this problem and would love to hear the solution. 🙂

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        1. This is the same for me! I came here to comment that I (unfortunately) do my best and most efficient work when I am very close to the deadline. In a weird way I gain a lot of energy from this stress and often even kind of enjoy buckling down when I really have to. But I don’t think it is very good for me! I wish I knew how to get that kind of motivation before the deadline becomes imminent!

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  1. Well, what I really need to do is to tell myself to stop being lazy and just get to work, instead of waiting for that perfect moment when I feel in a great mood to work, because that perfect moment usually never comes.

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  2. Time spent outdoors.

    Time spent with people who appreciate me.

    Good clothes. Honestly. I was ready to hang it all up this morning, feeling shockingly low, but then I put on a pair of pants that fits and has good memories for me, and new shoes I had not been sure I should buy but then did because I knew they would have this effect on me. Oh, and a warm turtleneck. And I just remembered, it’s the outfit of the 20-something me, when I was happy and a really good worker. And then sat down at the kitchen table, as I did then. (It is just while writing this that I realize I was channeling this layer of self, I had done it so instinctively.) I felt much better very quickly and I think it is because I zoned in on a mode of relating to self that is free of hatred (I learned self-hatred in my 30s but did not have it back when I was the person I am dressed as now).

    So: energy seems to come from nature and love and clothes seem to symbolize love. And the iconic me sits and studies or writes at the kitchen table. I will really think about this. And if I ever design my own house, I finally know where to put the study.

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  3. For me it’s the prospect of showing the work (showing off) to someone who’ll respond favorably to it. Better if the work is actually useful to the other person.

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