As I reflect on my energy and health over the past year, I’ve found that I’ve definitely made improvements in some categories, but also realize that I need a lot of improvement in others. Justine and I recently attended a seminar at the Small Business Administration. At the seminar, we took an Entrepreneur Energy Assessment, which evaluated each person in 4 categories - physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. I’ll go into more detail about each category, and start off with the one I feel strongest in.
1. Physical (My Biggest Improvement in 2017)
When it comes to sleep, my goal for 2017 has been 8 hours per night. I’ve averaged about 7.2 hours, which is a definite improvement from 2016 when I averaged 6.7 hours - yes, I’m a data nerd. Over the past 6 months, my exercise has evolved to include more strength training (3-4 x a week), 1-2 days of plyometric and agility training, and only one day of steady state cardio. The changes I’ve made to my exercise routine has had a noticeably positive impact on my day-to-day energy levels. I’ll readily admit that my diet in 2017 has been all over the place - there have been months where I barely cooked a single meal at home. Although I was in the moving and home-remodeling process, this isn’t an excuse. As our home remodeling was winding down, I’ve been back to giving my body the foods that it wants - and that I want. The biggest difference between eating out for every meal and preparing my own food is knowing what I’m putting into my body.
2. Mental (Needs Improvement, But Look Out 2018!)
An important part of mental health is the ability to quiet your mind, one of the main teachings of mindfulness practices. My mind is always going, going, going. I’ve tried meditation, but always stop and make excuses for not continuing. I will, however, give myself credit for taking more walks this year than I have during any other year since living in San Francisco (thanks to Justine for convincing me to make this a habit). I’ve used walking as a way to take breaks from work, deal with stress, and most of all, to calm racing thoughts. After 10-30 minutes, I can go back to work feeling refreshed and ready to tackle my to-do list, which brings me to the next component of mental hygiene…my worst enemy, taking breaks from technology. I feel like I, along with many others, have been getting worse at this over the years. I don’t know if it’s the increasing amount of tech in my life - like my Apple Watch, which alerts me of things even when I may not want to be alerted of things - or that I’ve just become a full-blown addict. Sometimes I feel like I need to go to cell phone rehab (this actually exists...). I’ve been more aware of my attachment to electronics, so I’ve begun setting my phone on Airplane Mode whenever possible. If I can manage to consistently unplug from technology, and especially my phone, I can improve what I believe is the most critical element of maintaining my mental health: staying present. Living in the moment is something everyone should strive for, but it’s always going to be a work in progress. We just have to find the things that will help us achieve this!
3) Emotional and Spiritual Health (The Most Important Player in Your Energy and Health)
This is the secret sauce. Without this, you can’t have the motivation or commitment to improve in the other two areas. Why do I say this? Well, it starts with the work you do because that’s what we spend most of our time doing! If we’re not enthusiastic, passionate, and committed to the work we do, how can we be spiritually and emotionally connected to ourselves or others? For some of you reading this, you know what I’m talking about. I’m proud to say that I love what I do, and I know I’m making a difference in my industry and in others’ lives because my work is connected to my values. My core values are social connection, movement, camaraderie, and balance. I get to live by my values every day in my line of work, and I’m grateful to have had that opportunity. The one area I need to work on is making sure I consistently make time for activities outside of work. I plan on making an improved effort by assigning myself days of the week to enjoy things that are not work-related, like golf, hikes, and concerts.
What this all boils down to is: reflection. Take some time to reflect on these categories, or come up with some of your own. Allow yourself to simply observe where you can improve, set a straightforward plan to do so, and most importantly, give yourself credit for what you’ve done well! Use this to make an even better plan for 2018.