As we are going into 2024, it is a good time to reflect on what energizes and does not. Starting with my weekly blog posts, sharing my thoughts on managing performance, working on my company’s strategy, my book on performance management, training and coaching people energize me.
What dis-energized me was working on long consulting reports and going through multiple revisions from different stakeholders. I made a conscious choice to seek work and activities that energize me.
Let me share an energy management tool by Tony Shwarz to understand our energy and performance zones. Energy can be defined as the capacity and ability to do work. Human possesses the capability and ability to maintain, create, innovate, destroy and rebuild. Depending on our energy level, people can achieve great things if they set their minds on it. However, energy can be driven by a positive source to help others or a negativity of anger, hatred and despair, this is the dark side. If we frame the energy by the level and type, we get a model of energy and performance in the diagram below.
When one’s energy is high but driven by a negative source such as fear, anger or hatred, our state and behaviours show signs of anxiousness, pessimism, frustration and cynicism. We are constantly worried and jumpy, and we second-guess our actions and work. This is called the Survival Zone.
If people stay too long in the Survival Zone, their energy level will eventually fall but their state is still negative. They may become exhausted, feel empty and unfocused. Their physical health may suffer, and they become susceptible to illness and injury. The physical body is showing important warning signs. This is the Burnout Zone. It is important to heed these warning signs rather than suffer serious consequences such as mental and physical breakdowns.
The first step to transit to a positive energy state is to reduce the amount of work that disenergizes.
It is a difficult decision that has tradeoffs but I learned that money can always be earned back, but health can sometimes never recover.
So, disengage from the sources of negativity, be it work or people. Rest, take a vacation, read a book, meditate, dream, do whatever brings peace and positivity back. The mind, spirit and body would begin to feel more relaxed, balanced and hopeful. This is the Recovery Zone.
When we have recovered our positivity, we can repurpose, dream and work on our aspirations. The positivity cycle will provide more drive to increase the energy level. We become energized, determined and focused. We are in the Performance Zone.
Our energy is cyclical, so we alternate between the Recovery and Performance Zones to do more, achieve what we desire and create more momentum for ourselves.
As we go into 2024, which zone are you in?