You’ve been following my series on maintaining energy. You understand all the common Energy Zappers and Energy Fixes in theory. But in practice…maybe it’s not so easy to see how the 3Rs fit into your own experience. How about an example to demonstrate?
Meet Janet. Janet is a middle manager at a corporation that has struggled lately. Janet’s department was downsized last month. She and her staff have been working furiously to pick up the slack. Janet is exhausted by her own duties as well as seeing how the strain is affecting everyone else.
Janet believes in her company and wants to see it succeed, but she’s also aware that her health is suffering. Something has to give. Janet applies the 3Rs and comes up with these results:
RECOGNIZE what’s going on. The daily uphill battle to get it all done leaves Janet feeling helpless and ineffective. To top it off, her friendly but out-of-touch boss tosses his non-priority tasks to his managers. Janet has never objected to his demands, so she’s usually the one he calls on first.
Janet realizes she has two classic Energy Zappers working against her: unrealistic expectations [Article 1 link] and poor boundaries [Article 2 link].
REFRAME your thoughts and actions. Janet knows she alone can’t fix all the company’s problems. So instead she strives to change how she looks at them. She’s been starting each day with a defeating thought: “I can’t do it all.” She decides to banish the negative “can’t” from her mind. Her new affirmation: “I can get the most important things done today, and I can do them brilliantly.”
Reframing also means actions, not just thoughts. So Janet acts by writing down her new resolve on three notecards. She tapes one to her bathroom mirror so she’ll be encouraged before she leaves home in the morning. She puts the second card in her pants pocket, knowing she’ll get a reminder when she reaches for her subway card. Then, when she arrives at the office, Janet puts the third card in her top desk drawer. Now she’ll have a surprise pep talk every time she grabs a pencil or sticky note.
Janet next makes a realistic list of today’s goals—not a long, impossible, and overwhelming list, but a list of the most critical tasks. Throughout the day, she boldly crosses out each one as she accomplishes it. It’s a busy day, but when 6 p.m. arrives, Janet’s list shows she has successfully completed all of her original tasks—plus resolving an emergency that came up unexpectedly. It’s the first time in months she’s felt a sense of accomplishment.
As Janet is leaving, her boss appears with a thick file and tells her to make sure it’s taken care of. Janet recognizes this task as something that will be relevant soon but isn’t crucial right now. She explains that her department is swamped with another project that’s more time sensitive. Janet shows him her list of the day’s finished tasks. He is visibly shocked at how much is going on, and he agrees that the file can wait.
RECLAIM the health you deserve. At the end of her first day of “cans,” Janet is tired but not completely drained. For the first time in weeks, she even finds the will to leave through the lobby and smile at the receptionist instead of sneaking out the back way to be alone. Self-assertion and a sense of accomplishment are a great pair of natural energy boosters.
Janet is a fictional character, but she’s like many of my real patients who attest that the 3Rs work. Put them to use and plug the holes that are draining away your zip. Need help getting started? Give me a call at 212-686-0939.