Streamline Your Life for Inspiration, Motivation and Fulfillment.
We all have things in our lives that we love to do, people we love to be with, responsibilities we feel good about, beliefs and habits that nurture and support us. And we also have those things that we put off doing – perhaps even dread – people we would rather not spend time with, responsibilities that feel like burdens, and beliefs and habits that we say we want to change yet somehow continue to perpetuate.
Another way of saying this is that we all have personal energy assets – things that energize, inspire, and motivate us – and personal energy liabilities – things that sap us of energy even by just thinking about them. Sometimes we are aware of the effects of these assets and liabilities, yet sometimes we are not. We just accept all of these things – especially the liabilities – as “part of life” and “do what we have to do”, often not realizing or acknowledging the personal cost.
Not acknowledging the personal cost has a cumulative effect over time. Life becomes increasingly stressful, concentration and focus suffer, there is a loss of sense of purpose, and life has less and less meaning. In extreme cases, we can find ourselves just “going through the motions” – we can become numb to life. Some simple shifts in awareness and realignment of thoughts, perspective, and actions can turn this around. By paying attention to your energetic responses to life, you can streamline your life and energy, leading to greater focus and accomplishment both in your personal life and in sharing your gifts with others.
Take a few minutes to do a simple exercise. On a blank sheet of paper, draw a line down the middle of the page from top to bottom.
At the top of the left side, write “Energy Assets” and on the right side, write “Energy Liabilities”. Then make a list on the Assets side of all the things in your life that energize, inspire, motivate, or nurture you in some way. Leave a little space to write more later after each thing on your list. Then make a list under Liabilities of all the things that sap you of energy. On either list, these things might include responsibilities, tasks, roles you play, beliefs, habits, relationships, or attitudes. You may even find that some things show up on both lists! This is not at all unusual. Make your lists before reading on.
Having completed the first step of this exercise, now go back to your list of assets. With each thing on your list, consider what is really going on for you below the surface asset. Who are you getting to be? What qualities are being called forth from you? What gifts or talents are you getting to use? What feelings arise? What is it about that activity, belief or relationship that feeds you energy, motivates or inspires you? In the space between each thing on your list, write your responses to these questions.
When you have finished writing about your assets and what they call forth from you, go to the liabilities side of the page. Consider what is missing in each of these things that, if it were present, would make a difference. Who are you not getting to be? What important qualities of your authentic self do you not seem to be able to live here? What important feelings are missing here? Again, write your responses.
Now go back to look at what you have written in the assets column. While you may have written about many different qualities, talents and feelings with the various things on your list, chances are some themes are showing up. You may find that with many of the things on your asset list, you are getting to be your authentic self, that your best qualities are being called forth, that you are getting to use your gifts and talents, or that you feel that you make a difference or are able to serve others in some way that is fulfilling to you. Conversely, when you look at the list of liabilities, you may find that the very themes that emerged on the assets list are missing among the liabilities. These activities, beliefs, and relationships are probably sapping your energy because they are missing the very things that inspire, motivate, and energize you.
Whether this is new information or an acknowledgement of what you already know, how can this information serve you? How can it help you streamline your life towards more effective use of your energy, greater accomplishment and personal fulfillment, as well as greater service to others? For some of the things on your liabilities list, you may realize right away that calling forth some of the qualities or attitudes from your assets list-simply shifting how you “show up” to those activities, beliefs, or relationships-could turn them from a liability to an asset. Others may be more challenging, so for those, let’s continue.
First, let’s look at the themes showing up with your personal energy assets. These themes are a good indication of why you are here, the gifts you were born to share, the mission your soul is here to live. The more you can make giving those gifts and living that mission the fuel and motivation behind all of your activities, the better chance you have of being energized and inspired all the time. Then you are “living into” who you are called to be, what you are called to do. This process also helps you realize that it is not the activity, relationship, or belief itself that feeds you energy, but rather who you get to be through that activity, relationship, or belief that is important. This distinction is essential if all the parts of your life are to be personal energy assets.
Now let’s look at the things on your liabilities list. For most people, this list can be divided into several categories, such as things that it is actually time to let go of, relationships that no longer serve in their current form, responsibilities that may not be theirs but that they have assumed anyway, as well as some things that simply must stay on the list-things that are just part of “what is” in their life at the moment and, at least for now, they cannot or choose not to change. This last category might include being a caretaker for a loved one, financial responsibilities, or other circumstances that, at least for now, must continue to be a part of the fabric of their lives.
Take a few moments to organize the things on your liabilities list into these categories:
· things it is time to let go of
· relationships that no longer serve in their current form
· responsibilities I have assumed but, in fact, are not really mine to do
· situations or circumstances that I cannot change in the immediate future
With the things it is time to let go of, what is one step you can take in each of them to begin letting them go in the next few days? How can you shift your relationship to those circumstances, activities, or beliefs so that they no longer sap you of energy? Notice I did not ask how you can change the situation itself. The situation may or may not change, but who do you choose to be in relationship to it? What possible choices can you make that could stop the energy drain? Then choose at least one of them.
With relationships that no longer serve, what wants to happen in those relationships? What is the conversation that needs to take place? What would be different if that conversation happened? What if in this relationship you chose to be the same person who is thriving in the assets column? How might the relationship shift, if not yet to one that energizes and nurtures you, at least to one that no longer saps you of energy. One step at a time!
It is amazing how many things we take responsibility for in our lives that, in fact, are not really ours to take care of. In fact, sometimes by taking on those responsibilities, we deny others the responsibility and power in their own lives and circumstances because we stepped in to take care of it for them. In the bigger picture, we are not always helping them. Too often, we can get caught in the belief that if we can do something, we should. The more enlightened approach is to ask, “What is truly mine to do here?” Just because you can do something doesn’t mean that it is, in fact, yours to do. Where can you turn energy drains into energy feeds by no longer taking responsibility that is not actually yours?
Just by addressing these first three categories, we can begin to realign our lives and find more energy and inspiration for what is truly ours to do-to live the lives we are truly called to live, serve in the places we feel called to serve, and experience much greater inspiration, motivation, fulfillment, and sense of purpose at the end of the day. And chances are, we have stepped into greater authenticity and integrity in all of those areas as well.
This brings us to the fourth category-things that you cannot change in the immediate future. The themes that showed up in your assets column-who you got to be, the qualities called forth within you, the gifts you shared-are also keys to shifting your relationship to this circumstance. How could you choose to show up differently to that circumstance?
What could you bring or who could you choose to be in the moment that might shift the circumstance to one that motivates you, inspires you, or energizes you? Having done the first part of this exercise, you now have more clarity about what energizes and inspires you. You know that when you embody certain qualities and choose particular perspectives, you find greater motivation and sense of purpose. How can you apply that here? While the circumstance may be here to stay for awhile, you may very well be able to make a significant shift in your relationship to it.
There is one more personal energy liability that often goes unrecognized. We often refer to this as “the elephant in the room”- the huge problem in a family, relationship, or organization that no one dares to openly acknowledge. Everyone knows that the problem is there, yet no one wants to be the one to break the unspoken code of silence. Avoiding conflict and tension at all costs, everyone outwardly pretends that the problem doesn’t exist. There is a false sense that “not going there” is preferable to speaking truth. We’ve all been a party to this kind of behavior at one time or another. Everyone goes into co-dependent protection mode, yet each person involved is more than likely protecting something different-someone they care about, a perceived weakness in themselves, or a reputation. While a fragile sense of outward normalcy is closely guarded, everyone involved suffers inwardly for the lie that is being lived or the charade being played. And in the meantime, the situation continues to fester and get worse.
“Elephants in the room” are enormous black holes for energy. They sap every bit of life force out of a relationship, a family, or an organization and lead to long-term debilitation. Scary as it might be to break the silence, just naming the issue out loud will begin to lessen the energy drain. While initially tension and conflict might escalate, the energy usually shifts fairly quickly toward something constructive starting to happen. And once things are out in the open and the problem can start to be addressed, if everyone is willing to participate in the healing or resolution, energy liabilities can often actually be turned into assets.
We each have significant gifts to bring to our world. We each have lessons to learn and soul missions to live. Staying focused on living our soul missions, sharing our gifts, and learning the lessons that come along keeps life much simpler and keeps us in the assets column. Pay attention to your personal energy assets and liabilities, take the time necessary to address the liabilities as they arise and do everything you can to shift them to the assets column, or at least neutralize them. I promise that the payoff will be worth the time and effort.
Alan Seale is an award-winning author, inspirational speaker, leadership and transformation coach, and spiritual mentor. He coaches leaders to live and work from a greatly expanded personal consciousness and a high level of self-awareness, to facilitate transformation, and to realize their personal and leadership potential.
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