“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever” (1 Corinthians 9:25, NIV).
In their excellent book, The Power of Full Engagement, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz suggest that, “Managing energy, not time, is the key to high performance.” We all have the same amount of time each day, but all of us do not bring the same amount and quality of energy to that time. Some people get more and better work done than others because they are alive with physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energy that allows them to give focused and sustained attention to their goals, while others simply trudge through their days lacking usable energy. The goal should be to maintain habits that yield maximum energy rather than frantically trying to get as much as possible done with an eye on the clock.
There are four extremely effective habits we should form in order to maintain high energy.
1. Good Eating
Nutrition is vital. Our bodies want to be consistently fed with foods that contain high-quality fuel, foods that are densely packed with sources of slow-burning energy. The goal in eating should be to consume calories that impart more energy than they expend in the digestion process. Said another way, we need to eat foods that give more than they take. And we know what those foods are: fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains.
2. Consistent Exercise
It’s this simple: by whatever means you enjoy or can manage, make sure you breathe hard and sweat for a minimum of thirty minutes at least four days a week. Each of us has 168 hours each week. Take a mere three hours out of the 168 for physical exercise and you are still left with 165. What a small slice of the whole! But then, watch what happens. The increase of energy you gain from devoting three of the 168 to exercise will raise the value of your remaining 165 such that you will actually get more and better work done with less time. It’s win win!
3. Positive Relationships
Resolve all conflicts with people and keep the relational air clean. You don’t have the energy for conflict, literally. You’re not built for it. Nothing drains the vital current out of the human system like interpersonal conflict characterized by anger, resentment, jealousy, envy or hate.
Forgive those who have wronged you just as God has forgiven you.
And do it now!
As much as lies within you, live at peace with all men. If you have wronged someone, that wrong will weigh upon your conscience and sap you of emotional energy. Make it right. Go to them and apologize with no excuses. Set your conscience free. And if someone has wronged you, see them through God’s eyes. Have mercy, not condemnation. By the grace of God, be free from the anxiety of unresolved conflict.
Most vital of all, be at peace with your Maker. Rise each morning and give your heart anew to Him who made you for a love relationship with Himself and your fellow human beings. Commit your family and friends to His gracious care, and then rest easy knowing that He will always do the right thing for you and for them.
4. Rest and Recreation
Finally, rest restores enthusiasm, calibrates the emotions, opens fresh streams of creativity and floods the body and mind with new energy. You need a good six to eight hours of sleep each night and regular intervals of enjoyable recreation. Got to have it! Do not imagine that you are actually getting more done by sleeping less and refraining from taking time off work for recreational activities. Downtime increases physical, mental, emotional and spiritual vigor. You’ll do your best work if you are well rested.
And then there is the deeper, more profound rest that has descended upon us in Christ and is memorialized each week in the seventh-day Sabbath. Once, in the beginning, God performed His work of creation, and He said, It is “finished,” and “rested on the seventh day” (Genesis 2:1-2). And then, once again, in defiance of the anti-creational force of sin, God performed a second work of creation, called salvation, and He said, “It is finished” and rested in the tomb on the seventh day (John 19:30). In Christ you are invited to rest in total freedom from guilt and sin and all that is contrary to God’s love. Each week on the seventh day, “He who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His” (Hebrews 4:10).
So there you have it. Energy, not time, is the currency we have control over. And these are the four most crucial energy-maximizing habits you can form.
Have an energized life!