What’s Draining Your Energy?

Alan Spector is the author of five books and is working on books six and seven. His latest is “Body Not Recovered: A Vietnam War/Protest Movement Novel.” Spector also writes the stljewishlight.com blog “Retirement According to … Alan Spector.”

By Alan Spector

How many conversations have you been in recently that start something like, “I can’t stand all of the divisiveness on the news, but I can’t stop watching.”

Perhaps you were the one to start the conversation.  Regardless, thinking about the answer is not trivial.  Yes, we need to be informed, and we need, as good citizens, to be involved.  But what are the implications of the constant drone of frustrating news or fake news or whatever-you-want-to-call-it news? 

When coauthor, Keith Lawrence, and I were researching and writing Your Retirement Quest, we identified “10 key elements of a fulfilling retirement.”  One of these is Well-Being, which by the way, is a important element at any stage of life.  But what does it mean?

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states, “There is no consensus around a single definition of well-being, but there is general agreement that at minimum, well-being includes the presence of positive emotions and moods, the absence of negative emotions, satisfaction with life, fulfillment, and positive functioning.  In simple terms, well-being can be described as judging life positively and feeling good.”

Vague?  Yes.  Helpful?  Not so much.  Keith and I knew we needed to be more specific.  We considered whether Well-Being is just a person’s basic health, as in the absence of disease.  We considered it being physical fitness.  Both seemed necessary, but neither seemed sufficient or holistic.

Then we came across a concept that seemed to fit the bill.  Answer these two questions for yourself.  1) Do I have the energy I need to do what I want to do in my life now?  2) Do I practice the daily habits to help ensure that I will have the energy I need well into my future?

We believe the measure of Well-Being is your energy level.  It incorporates your basic health and your level of fitness, but many other things as well.  Instead of spending time in this post going through important daily habits that generate energy, let’s focus on things that may be draining your energy.

My guess is that you know instinctively what drains your personal energy, but are you doing anything to resolve them?  Take a moment and list of your energy drainers.  Go ahead, write them down—doing so increases the odds that you’ll do something about them.  Here are a few examples we typically hear.   

  • Listening to or reading the news (you knew this was going to be on the list)—what happens when you are constantly bombarded by bad news?  You probably either become numb to it or it just gets you down.  Either way, it drains your energy.
  • Interacting with Eeyores—remember Winnie the Pooh?  Revisit my post from April 9, 2015, “Retirement According to…Winnie the Pooh.”  Recall the character, Eeyore.  How would you describe him?  Right.  He’s a downer.  Do you have Eeyores in your life?  They drain your energy.
  • Isolation—do you have and are you seeing close friends and family?  If you are spending a lot of time alone, this can drain your energy as well.

So, what should you do?  Your choice is to suffer the energy drain or take action and make a change.  In the case of the news, stop or reduce exposure.  In the case of Eeyores, eliminate or minimize the time you spend with them.  In the case of isolation, consciously strive to increase your connections to others, especially the Tiggers.

Although these actions may not be easy and may have some downsides of their own, what will you gain from not having your energy drained?  The answer might just be, “Well-Being.”

Alan Spector is an author, business consultant, baseball player, traveler, and grandfather.  He has authored five published books, including, with coauthor Keith Lawrence, Your Retirement Quest: 10 Secrets for Creating and Living a Fulfilling Retirement (www.YourRetirementQuest.com).  Alan and Keith conduct workshops across the country helping prospective and current retirees plan the non-financial aspects of their retirement—to make the rest of their lives the best of their lives.  Alan’s latest book, Body Not Recovered, is a work of historical fiction from the Vietnam War/Protest Movement era, and it has deep St. Louis roots.