Work-life energy

How to Increase Your Energy, Confidence and Commitment

by
Belinda Jenkins

HCLI Contributor

We know that we can’t be our best-selves at work or home without taking care of ourselves, so why do we persist on investing in time over energy[1]?

Bright and early for breakfast, I was ready to participate in the Human Performance Institute's (HPI) Performance course. One of the coaches sat beside us and asked how we were feeling. I replied that I was excited but terrified in equal measure. I was ready to learn how to improve and regain my energy.

Acknowledging where you’re at

With my 360-survey from work colleagues, family and friends complete, I had insights that my inner voice was my harshest critic. In the group circle, I shared my mental and emotional fatigue. I had been in survival mode for a sustained period – trying to achieve a balance between work and home and putting others ahead of myself.

Why energy and time are not the same

Using our time effectively seems to be the cornerstone of successful leadership. But it’s the energy leaders bring to the equation that makes a difference. It’s important to reframe that energy management is not time management. The question is ‘How are you managing your energy?’

There are four types of energy

Physical energy is how tired we feel, and the things that directly affect it include, exercise, sleep and diet.

Mental energy includes our mood and our cognitive work and engagement.  Mental tasks can drain or energise us, but sustained levels of concentration can leave us feeling drained or mentally tired.

"Discovering and living your personal brilliant purpose brings energy, fulfilment, and wellbeing into your life” – Dr Jim Loehr

Emotional energy is the time we spend connecting and interacting with others. Positive and negative emotions and your ability to be self-aware is critically important for our relationships at work and home.

Spiritual energy “is what we get from doing something meaningful to us, something that speaks to our spirit—it can take the form of wisdom, compassion, integrity, joy, love, creativity or peace[2].” It makes sense that we are increasingly observing leaders seeking workplaces that can support purpose-driven values.

Johnson & Johnson Energy Management Model
HPI Energy Pyramid [3]

 

Purpose and leadership

To be my best self and discover my purpose, I went into the course seeking strategies to strengthen my mental and emotional energy.  

The difference between mental and emotional energy is focus and quality.[4] 

Our mental energy is about awareness in the present moment, improved concentration, and critical thinking.  It is also about the stories we tell ourselves and plays into our mental growth as a leader.

Our emotional energy is about how we “think and act” to perform and connect with others. Influencing our happiness and wellbeing, it embraces leadership traits such as compassion, gratitude and kindness.

Leadership strategies for mental and emotional energy

These actions can assist in reframing our self-talk or inner voice. Leaders need time to let their minds wander and be creative, and to have the focus and clarity they need to be their best selves.

  • Multi-tasking is not an effective strategy for a highly productive morning, afternoon or evening. Instead, a leader should chunk their time to avoid unnecessary distraction.
  • Mindfulness in the form of meditation or yoga or even a walk in nature can be things you can build into your routine to break up your day.
  • A gratitude journal can be a powerful way to remind yourself of the things you are grateful for. It only takes 1-3 minutes a day and can improve your storytelling and inner voice. The scientific benefits of gratitude are numerous.[5]
  • Lean-in to your support networks, whether that is your family, friends, or other social circles. For me, this includes sharing experiences with a diverse peer group of women in leadership.
  • Spark joy and find ways to engage in laughter and fun every day. Part of the commitment I have made is to dance every weekend with my children, which they have embraced with love and enthusiasm.
  • Rest and recovery are central to being an effective leader and being your best self. This may involve taking a few strategic breaks during your workday to seeking places, people and pursuits that recharge and re-energise you.
     

Making it actionable and achievable

This programme does not end when you leave. It is just the beginning, and its value and strength lie in what you can put into immediate effect.

How will I begin? It starts with a 90-day action plan, and while I thought I would start with my emotional and mental energy, I am beginning with my physical energy. In putting others first, I had become overburdened and let go of team-sports that had kept me physically active, strong, and resilient.

Actions include keeping my daily steps up, and high-intensity workouts and resistance training that are shorter in duration but regular. Smaller plates and the ‘five-handfuls rule’ for more balanced eating. Consistent sleep times and reduced screen time before bed. With renewed mindfulness around diet, sleep and exercise, these changes are boosting my energy levels. These steps are small, but essential to get me on the path to better emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing.

My learning? Finding life and career alignment and purpose can take time. Quieting your inner voice and telling a positive story to grow takes time and intention as well. To be effective leaders, we need to invest in our energy. And that energy is optimal when aligned with our values and our purpose.

This post takes inspiration from HPI’s Performance Course located at Johnson & Johnson in Singapore. Thank you to family, friends, colleagues & coaches for ongoing support and encouragement.

 

References

[1] Jim Loehr (2012). The Only Way to Win: How Building Character Drives Higher Achievement and Greater Fulfillment in Business and Life

[2] Gila Vadnai-Tolub (2019) McKinsey & Co. More than work-life balance, focus on your energy.

[3] Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute.

[4] Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute.

[5] Robert Emmons. Why Gratitude Is Good, Greater Good Magazine, Nov 2010.

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