Breakdown or Breakthrough?

Last week, I was the epitome of a burned out lightbulb. There was so much hope, so much promise, so many self-directed “shoulds” and “wills” that getting sick and doing the bare minimum all week was not part of the plan, was not part of the schedule, and was not part of the checklist.

I’m the Type A type of person that lives by a checklist. I’ve always taken great pride in doing as much as I can, pushing the limits – working multiple part-time jobs throughout high school and college, working multiple jobs as a young millennial in DC trying to make a way. Now, with only one job (and multiple volunteering opportunities), life is full. But sometimes I wonder if I try to distract myself through my to-do lists and checklists – if I’m chasing my need for productivity instead of chasing my passion.

Enter weeks like last week. Weeks when snow fell freeform, weeks when work fell into a lull, when I was content to gobble up other people’s content instead of creating my own. Then, after finishing my third book, it hit me – I’m not burnt out, I’m not burnt enough.

My problem wasn’t with getting burnt out with my checklists – after all, I’ve done so much more before this moment in time, and I’ll probably be doing just as much in the future. No, it was that I wasn’t energized. Recently, I’ve been doing things that haven’t been energizing me; instead, they’ve been taking – volunteer opportunities taking away from my time to socialize or become more inspired; work projects taking time to get started; even my workouts have become more maintenance than fun.

Instead of maintaining my schedule, I should have been maintaining my energy.

Why is this even a problem in the first place? Perhaps it’s because as women, we’re ingrained with ingratiating ourselves; to put others before ourselves. Usually, I try to keep up with my energy levels, doing “half-halts” or small breaks to ensure my energy levels are stable throughout the day, but I’ve thoroughly been distracted. It’s time to cut the noise and focus my energy on what really matters.

I get energy from connecting with others – either meeting someone for a cup of coffee, interacting with my #NLVDenver tribe, and connecting with those work colleagues to try to problem-solve their projects and issues. I get energy through solving those problems that other people have given up on, or trying to make the impossible, possible. I get energy through learning – languages, other cultures, other ways of life.

What sorts of activities do you do to maintain your energy levels?