I struggled with an eating disorder for almost two decades until, in my early thirties, I discovered intuitive eating. Intuitive eating is like delegating your schedule to a superstar assistant and then never having to worry about whether you messed up your calendar. Except your assistant is your body. You let your body tell you what, when, and how much to eat. And you don’t really stress about the minutia.
In my first year of intuitive eating, I finished my MBA, crushed my sales quota, and ran my fastest marathon yet. With ease.
I’d spent half of my life trying to control my body. Letting go of control gave me the time, energy, and freedom to apply myself to the things I really wanted to do. This theme shows up everywhere in life and business.
In my relationship, I realized that my attempts to motivate my husband to make healthy lifestyle changes were actually just stressing him out and creating the opposite of the desired impact.
In business, the micromanagement of employees takes so much time, energy, and focus that there’s none left for the work that actually needs to be done.
In creative projects, we can get so intent on avoiding even the mere possibility of critical feedback that we rework and rework instead of letting our work out into the world.
These habits are exhausting. They feel like work and leave us depleted, but they don’t get us closer to the results we desire to create.
The key is discerning the difference between effort that moves us toward our desired outcomes and effort that just makes us feel safer in the moment.
When deciding what to commit to and where to focus my energy, I ask myself these questions:
- Will this action actually get me closer to my desired outcome?
- Is there somewhere else I could apply my effort that would have an even bigger impact?
- What am I resisting/avoiding?
- What am I afraid of?
- What would a future version of me do?
Sometimes there’s nothing you can do to impact a specific outcome and any action is futile. And that’s okay. It just means you get to spend your effort somewhere else. In this situation, I usually start by taking time to process my emotions and clear my mind. When I’m ready, I’ll do something I enjoy (with zero guilt) or shift my focus to somewhere I can make a difference.
Remember: it’s YOUR time and energy. There are no wrong choices and you get to throw your time and energy around wherever you want to. Becoming more aware of how you choose to expend your time and energy empowers you to be more intentional about your life.