As we come to the financial year end for many organisations, it may well be worth taking a moment to stop and reflect on how the last year at work has been and how you can get more out of the year ahead. To do that, I want to introduce you today to the energy lifeline – a handy tool that can be used in all sorts of ways…looking at your whole career, your relationships, your family, and home life, all sorts really, with the same basic approach.
Today though, we’ll be using the energy lifeline to reflect on the year just gone at work so that you can identify when you were at your most energised and least energised, what the underlying reasons might have been for this and how you make that work for you in planning for the year ahead. So you can plan your year to get the best from yourself and your life without the year running away with itself and you being merely a passenger.
My name’s Dr. Paul Brewerton, the strengths guy, I podcast Monday morning each week on work and life through a strengths lens. Today’s podcast will focus mainly on work and strengths, with a little nod to life thrown in, coz it’s all related right?
The approach I’d like to take today involves reflecting on your energy levels over the last year. First up, what do I mean by energy levels? Well I mean when you were feeling strongest, most positive and energised, engaged and connected. As well as considering when you were feeling the flip of those things: negative, drained, perhaps a bit dazed and confused.
To get your reflections into a usable form, and to get your energy lifeline game on, it’s best to take a single sheet of A4 paper, landscape orientation and draw a horizontal line across the centre of the page from left to right. That line represents your neutral zone as regards energy levels – not particularly positive and not particularly negative – so write neutral next to this line on the far left. Next, draw a vertical line to the left of the horizontal one from top to bottom, so you are creating a sideways capital ‘T’. The upper zone represents you at your most positive and energised, so write ‘positive and energised’ towards the top of the page. The lower zone represents you at your least positive – when you were feeling more negative or disengaged – so write ‘negative and disengaged’ towards the bottom of the page.
Now, along the horizontal line mark the months or quarters from a year ago (so say 1 March last year) on the far left up to now on the far right of the graph (say 1 March this year). OK, so you now have the base structure of your energy lifeline and you can start populating it with your energy graph from a year ago to right now. The aim here is to mark events or periods on this lifeline that were significant in your work life. You may also need to put on their significant events outside of work if they had any effect on your energy at work but the focus here works – when did you feel at your best, and when were things not going so well for you?
Take as long as you need to do this, with as much detail as you need, including the events, projects, or periods of time themselves, and any explanatory notes you may want to include. Once you’ve done it, join the energy dots so that you can see trends in energy including negative, positive, and neutral.
Once you’ve completed all that, try and take a ‘helicopter’ view – and consider what your energy lifeline is telling you overall. Was it a mainly positive year, or a mainly negative one? Is your line smooth or are there definite peaks and troughs? Was there any overall upward or downward trends?
Now you’ve got that view from the balcony, it’s time to reflect on what was happening for you during any highs or lows – so answering the question ‘why’ your energy was higher or lower at different points in the year? You might want to put notes on your energy lifeline about all this. For example,
- Were you doing particularly fulfilling or unfulfilling work at any points?
- Were you clear on your purpose – the purpose of your role or of your team or organisation, or were there times when you were less clear about what it was all about?
- Was there anything happening outside of work that impacted on your energy at work?
- Did you feel appreciated and supported in your work or were there times when you felt more isolated?
- What about busy-ness and stress levels, how did these vary for you?
- Were you able to play to your strengths, to who you are at your very best, or did you feel stuck in situations where you couldn’t play to strengths and you were forced into areas that drained you?
- What else gave you energy, what replenished you and what drained you. Think about people, places and tasks or projects
- What made you feel most proud during the year and what, less so?
- When did you feel you made a strong and important contribution? And when did you feel that was less possible?
So once you’ve been through that process of reflection, it should be possible for you to start putting together a plan for your year ahead that will see you feeling more consistently energised, engaged and excited by work, so making good choices for the year ahead and going into it feeling more eyes open and more in control.
It’s probably going to be less straightforward to create an energy lifeline for the year ahead as there will be too many unknowns, so instead, identify some habits you want to form, some mantras you want to keep present, some goals you want to work towards. Essentially, distilling what you’ve got from the energy lifeline into a better way of life for you for the year ahead. Some of my own ideas for this are:
- Making time and space to refresh and replenish your energies
- Making sure you have the right mix of work for you that’s engaging and interesting
- Asking for help and support sooner so that you don’t sink – collaborate, delegate, share
- Know and play to your core strengths as much as you can
- And finally, know and work to your purpose.
You’ll find lots of other podcasts in my back catalogue that can stimulate your thinking in all those areas and more – have a browse and see what you can find. As we head into the new financial year, I hope that tracking back on your energy over the past year, joining the dots and seeing the trends will help you make your best choices in the year ahead to bring your very best and strongest contribution to work.
If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, do please subscribe to my channel and send me some love or like or even a review. It can get lonely out here in podcast world, so any words of encouragement you may have are always gratefully received. Till next time.