Updated: May 6
Energy in the dictionary is defined as “the strength and vitality required for sustained physical or mental activity” and later as “the capacity to perform work”. Synonyms include vigor, animation, spirit, and vitality. There are generally two types of energy – stored/potential and kinetic/working. Stored energy can be found in body fat or in a common battery. Working energy is when we take that stored energy and use it to do physical or intellectual work.
In his 1907 classic “The Energies of Men” eminent psychologist James Allen wrote “Compared with what we ought to be, we are only half awake. Our fires are damped, our drafts are checked. We are making use of only a small part of our possible mental and physical resources”. In case you have never been around a fireplace the draft is an adjustment where the smoke vents into the chimney. When you damp the draft, it lowers the intensity of the fire and when fully open you get the full amount of heat possible.
Allen goes on to say, “Our scientific respectability keeps us from exercising the mystical portions of our nature freely. If we are doctors, our mind-cure sympathies, if we are mind-curists, our medical sympathies, are tied up.” What was true in 1907 is true in spades over 100 years later. You must combine both your physical and mental powers if you want to optimize your energy and accomplish your goals. Physical energy can be enhanced by:
Getting enough sleep (generally 7-8 hours).
Exercising 4-5 days a week.
Managing your weight.
Eating a balanced diet.
You must engage your mental powers first, however, to unleash the physical powers. In fact, developing the motivation to do the physical things is dependent upon the mental things. There are three keys:
Self-compassion includes three core concepts; your sense of humanity and connection to others, self-kindness, and mindfulness. Developing these skills provides you balance, resilience, and perspective.
Self-efficacy is the sense of control that you have over your own life and your ability to do what you need to do.
Values alignment is the personal work of considering what is important to you and focusing your energy in those areas that are most important. So, for example, if family is very important to you but you spend almost no energy on and with them, you have a misalignment. Misalignment creates anxiety, fear, regret and a sense if being out of balance.
The combination of personal control (self efficacy) and perspective (self-compassion) provide the mental power to activate your physical power. With reasonable levels of these skills you create energy and motivation. They are the foundation to every other physical, mental, or spiritual goal you may have. Your priorities provide focus that further harnesses your energy to productive goals and desires.
Nearly all human beings (that likely means you as well) suffer from a bias toward inertia. Here is where we run into the paradox – I need motivation in order to get motivated. How many treadmills, abs busters, and bicycles (diet plans, self-help books, exercise DVD, etc.) sit unused after an initial period of temporary motivation? You need a constant stream of motivation to prime the pump. So, if something entails doing a daily activity, reading a book and following the easy 7 step plan, or nearly anything else based solely on willpower, it will not likely be effective for most people.
There are three generic ways to set yourself up for success in the battle to overcome inertia, accomplish your goals consistently, and live your best life. They all involve the three principles noted above, but each has its unique advantages and disadvantages.
Get some live help: There are life coaches, courses and seminars, therapists and others whose career is to help individuals like you and me. The best will seek to know you first and understand what is important to you (priorities). They can then help you in areas where you need the most support and provide accountability. This is a great option for those with access, resources, and time. At least to start I would search for this type of support near where you live or work. I would look for a life coach with a significant accreditation like the ICF (International Coach Federation) or HCI (Heath Coach Institute). Therapists can be found through your insurance company, web search, or psychology today www.psychologytoday.com has a nice "find a therapist" function with lots of sorting functions e.g. male or female, practice focus, etc.
Utilize a self-help resource: There are many well researched and effective tools available for people who want to accomplish their goals and live there best lives. The best of these resources will once again guide you through a process that covers the three key areas listed above. One of my favorites is "Change Anything", which you can get at most physical and online bookstores or directly from www.VitalSmarts.com. They also have a lot of additional resources, though many have additional costs. This option is best if you feel your priorities are clear and your self-compassion and self-efficacy are pretty strong.
HVASF: I would like to list multiple options here but there is only one resource I know of that is built on the three principles above, avoids the serious downsides of being so vast as to create distraction and or is advertising driven. This third option is ideal for those who need a helping hand but don't want to rely on the willpower required for the second option or don't have access to or interest in the more personal and expensive first option. HVASF has the advantage of being an entire system of support that overcomes the most common challenges of inertia, cost, and time.
I hope this information is helpful for you. May you take the steps that are right for you to help you access your personal reservoirs of energy and motivation. Under any of the options above yours is the most critical role, and you are certainly worth the effort!
HVASF provides an automatic, affordable, and effective daily dose of motivation "The Daily Vitamin for Your Mind". With this daily dose you are primed mentally to take further steps to accomplish your personal and professional goals (to unleash your energy). This small daily dose can help you overcome your inertia. Click here to find out more www.HVASF.com.