If I had only one rule in life it would be “Follow the energy“.

This starts with drawing up lists in answer to these questions:

  • Who and what give me energy? (energizers); and
  • Who and what suck energy from me? (vampires).

This is an iterative process that would ideally be updated at regular periods. It is something I ponder every week although the full list probably only gets revised every couple of months. In truth, this approach heavily influences everything I do from the work and roles I accept, to what I eat, how I exercise and who I hang with.

Over time it would ideally include everything (people, places, events, experiences, foods, activities, situations [e.g. transitions like hellos and good-byes]) you notice that gives or takes energy from you. I would then suggest asking yourself:

  • Of all the items on the lists, which ones have the most impact?

And as a result:

  • What might I stop?
  • What might I do less of?
  • What might I start?
  • What might I do more of?

I actually just updated my own lists and here is a short excerpt from the vampire list:

  • Shallow conversations
  • Certainty
  • Clutter
  • Dragging people behind me (psychologically)
  • Meetings with no psychological safety or agendas
  • Cleaning the kitchen
  • Pasta except nice lasagna
  • Forms
  • Unscheduled calls
  • Social media (WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)
  • Coughs
  • Being judged (energy)

As you can see, the list covers different types of energy – physical, emotional, psychological. There isn’t much I can do about some of them and yet in many other instances I can steer clear of the things and people that suck energy from me.

On the flip side, here are some of the things that will make me live longer – or at least make life feel so exciting that I want to live longer:

  • Thinking & Reflecting
  • Deep conversations
  • Hammocks
  • Poetry I like
  • Rugby
  • Select friends
  • Board Games
  • Friday nights
  • Fresh homemade bread
  • Writing – when it flows
  • Wine & Pizza
  • Tea & coffee
  • Art galleries
  • Zen
  • Walking in fresh air
  • Yoga Nidra
  • Snoozes
  • Water
  • Flowers
  • Trees

Here are some energetic areas in which many people struggle and might serve as challenges:

  • Acceptance and energy: Accepting ourselves and our limitations can free up energy for personal growth and meaningful actions.
  • Embracing imperfection: Recognising that life and work can’t always be perfectly balanced, and it is normal for things to blend together. Being kind to ourselves when things don’t go as planned.
  • Energy and attention management: Recognizing that energy and attention are the true scarce resources and planning our days accordingly.

Questions in the Image:

  • What impacts my energy the most?
  • What might I stop?
  • What might I do less of?
  • What might I start?
  • What might I do more of?

Want to Read More Around This Topic?

The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. This book explores how managing energy, not time, is the key to enduring high performance as well as health, happiness and life balance. The authors provide practical strategies to help readers energise their work and personal lives.

Nurturing Curiosity – Daily Practice: This is part of the Nurturing Curiosity series of tools, insights and questions designed to help nurture curiosity as part of our daily practice. In point of fact, every interaction we have is an opportunity to question what we are observing and how we and others are seeing the world. Also remember that questions come in many forms throughout our day. A renovation project and the resultant loud drilling noises in the house next to where I am staying is asking me a whole series of questions. The drilling, which comes and goes, is interrupting my thinking and testing my patience. The simple fact is that it isn’t going to go away so How then can I embrace it? What might it offer me? It feels like it might be an opportunity for some impromptu meditation throughout the day. I might also perhaps have to let go of any ideas around how my day might flow.

What Thoughts Would You Like to Share? My name is Tom O’Leary, and I envision a world in which curiosity shapes leadership. In this world, leaders aren’t boxed in by traditional thinking or established playbooks. They are open to fresh ideas and diverse perspectives, fostering a culture of exploration and learning. My mission is to shift leadership focus from authority, over-measurement and control to curiosity, learning and innovation, empowering leaders to prioritise the essential. My journey, lived in a number of countries and through various languages, has always been driven by a profound sense of curiosity. In fact, life has taught me that possibility lies not so much in seeking answers but in learning to ask better questions – the ones that help prioritise what is truly essential. I welcome your thoughts, feedback, or personal experiences related to these questions or any insights they may have sparked.