by Karen D. Swim
This morning I opened my devotional and the following words jumped off the page and opened my still sleepy eyes:
Each of us must decide where we're going to put our energy when the battle grows fierce.
The headline was particularly meaningful this week as I have read and listened to many others who are feeling the strain of keeping things in balance. Yvonne Russell wrote about managing the noise level in a Web 2.0 world and Wendi Kelly blogged about managing the multiple priorities in our lives. The demands for our time and attention seem to be growing at a rapid pace. We have to treat our energy as a precious commodity. As Ellen Wilson wrote this week "It pays (literally, because that is the currency that gives all the goods we need for survival) to think about how you spend your precious energy."
So how do we pick our battles? How do we choose where to put our energy?
Keep your Eyes on the Prize
The answer in my morning devotional was to keep your eyes on the prize. We're all in a race but what are you running for ultimately? Take some quiet time, shut off the noise and list what's most important to you. Are your day to day actions aligned with your guiding values? Your values, your purpose are your constant gut check as to where, how and with whom you spend that precious commodity known as energy.
Just Say No!
Women in particular seem to have a hard time saying "No." We want to support, nurture, do and help everyone but there's not enough of you to go around. I've learned to say "No" but even I still experience those times when I say "No" but feel guilty about it. This can be especially difficult when if time and and energy permitted you would say "yes." If you struggle with saying "No" learn to not give an immediate answer. Distance yourself from the pressure of the situation by saying "I'll have to get back to you," or "I have to check my calendar." Follow up by politely but firmly declining. Remember that YOU own your time. It is yours to spend as you please. You do not have to explain your reason for saying no.
Shrink your World
When my husband was diagnosed with cancer I became a full time caregiver. My world became smaller out of necessity. My husband was obviously my top priority. I also continued running and training for a marathon, stayed connected to friends and my church family. I had to narrow my focus and ignore everything else. Sometimes you have to prune your life. In planting, pruning removes the non-productive, diseased or unwanted. When you properly prune plants and trees it enhances the health, strength and beauty. Pruning your life can produce the same effect and is a practice we should all engage in periodically.
You do not have to read every blog post, accept every invitation or join and participate in every social media forum. Choose your battles based on your ultimate prize, your body, mind, soul and loved ones will thank you for it!
How do you manage your energy? How do you make the tough decisions?