How to do an internal energy audit
In this series on learning to love your life at work, part of what I am exploring is how to improve your experience of life at work, regardless of whether or not you can change anything about the work itself.
A great place to start is by doing an “internal energy audit.”
One of the tools I encourage people to use in their efforts to improve the here and now is an energy audit aimed at the work itself. They look at what energizes them and what drains them, and then explore ways to bring more of the energy-inducing aspects into the picture and reduce the drains.
That same idea is relevant for your internal landscape.
It’s essentially the same idea. You’re asking:
- How do I contribute to feeling more energized?
- How do I contribute to feeling less energized?
Another way of thinking about it (one I’m using more and more in my own life) is:
- How do I open to the flow of energy?
- How do I constrict the flow of energy?
One way or another, we all do each of those in umpteen different ways. For example:
Opening to the flow
- Focusing on what’s positive
- Expressing the positive (e.g., sharing your observations on what’s good with someone)
- Grounding practices like meditation and breathing practices
- Staying in the present moment instead of lost in negative stories
- Questioning your limiting stories, assumptions, and beliefs
- Consciously exposing yourself to what’s positive and uplifting
Constricting the flow
- A habitual focus on the negative
- A tendency to be critical, whether of yourself or others
- Mistaking your negative thoughts for reality
- A tendency to ruminate and worry
- Getting lost in your negative stories
- Constantly exposing yourself to what’s negative and constricting (e.g., the news)
- Never letting yourself slow down and relax
Internal Energy Audit Framework
Here’s a framework to get you started.
1. What stories are you telling?
You don’t see the world as it is. You see it through the lens of the stories you tell. We all do. Sometimes those stories are positive, and sometimes they’re negative. Sometimes they’re empowering, and sometimes they’re disempowering. What kind of pictures are your stories painting?
You can explore three broad kinds of stories:
Stories about yourself: These might include, for example, self-criticism vs self-appreciation (e.g., “hey, I really did that well,” or, “it wasn’t perfect, but I did the best I could.”) or self-doubt versus self-belief.
Stories about others: Do you see others as basically good or basically flawed? Do you see the best in others or the worst? Are you hyper-critical of others or supportive and understanding? Is your basic default trust or distrust?
Stories about circumstances: Do you feel like a victim of circumstances or do you habitually look for ways you can improve things? Do you see the world as a fearful place or a hopeful place?
The either/or questions there are only a handful of examples to give you an idea of what kinds of stories you might find, not an exhaustive list.
2. What do you focus on?
Do you focus on the positive or the negative? Do you focus on what you’re grateful for or what you dislike? Do you focus on what you enjoy, or what grates on you?
3. Do you have room in your mind for quiet or are you lost in the noise?
A great way to tilt toward constriction is to never give your mind any time and space for quiet. Do you give yourself time to pause and be still, or are you constantly doing, doing, doing? Do you allow your mind some silent space, or do you habitually fill that space with something? (Try just being alone in silence for a while and see what happens. If you find yourself starting to crawl out of your skin, it’s a good bet you’re not giving your mind the space it needs.)
4. What input are you feeding your mind?
What do you habitually feed your mind? Do you seek out positive and uplifting input, like books to help you learn and grow or inspiring stories, or do you fill it with news about how the world is going to hell and images of violence and despair? Do you spend your time having positive conversations with people, or are you a long-standing member of the Bitch-n-Moan Club?
Do an ongoing energy audit
Taking a first look at the areas outlined above is a great way to start shining a light at what is going on in your internal landscape, but it’s not a one-and-done effort.
Try making it a habit to do an ongoing energy audit. Maybe it’s as simple as spending five minutes on your commute home reviewing the day and checking in with how things looked internally in each of those areas.
The more you can recognize what’s happening on an ongoing basis, the more you have the potential to work with those internal aspects to shift them ever-more in a positive direction.
And the more positive your internal landscape, the more positive your experience will inevitably be of what’s going on in the world around you.
[Want to get Wild About Work? Take the first step with my FREE audio course.]
Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM
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