Lately, I’ve noticed that I’m really tired at the end of the day. Not normal tired, but exhausted. I feel like I’ve given all my energy away to my clients and my friends, and saved none for myself.
I’m someone who loves connecting. It’s in my DNA. It’s part of why I became a coach and why I love helping clients jumpstart their own careers. I can’t turn this part of myself off, and I wouldn’t want to. I also love connecting with colleagues, friends, and people who come to me for advice.
That means that I’m “on” for almost my whole day. The majority of my time is spent supporting, consulting, and providing guidance. My clients hire me and rely on me to provide those services, and I’m there for them 100%. But I’ve recently realized I don’t need to give that same 100% to every single interaction I have. That doesn’t mean that I can’t or don’t want to provide support, it just means that I have to be more aware of saving some energy for me. At the end of the day, if my battery is completely drained, even just finding the energy to recharge is hard.
As someone who is in the business of listening to and supporting others, it’s often hard to ask for support for myself. It’s not something I’m used to. When someone says, “Tell me how I can support you,” I don’t have a good answer. And I think this is common for many professionals who provide a service. They’re so used to being a dedicated listener for others that they don’t stop to talk honestly about their own day — even when someone is offering that to them.
Lately, I’ve been trying to make sure I not only save energy but that I make a deliberate effort to recharge when I need it. If you feel depleted because you’ve been giving your all, here’s what has been working for me:
1. Don’t overschedule your time, especially when it comes to favors. I’ve talked before about the importance of valuing your time, and I think it’s an essential part of conserving your mental and physical energy. Often the times when I am the most drained are when I schedule back-to-back networking meetups. When I’m meeting with other entrepreneurs who want to pick my brain, either about coaching or entrepreneurship in general, it’s my natural impulse to share my knowledge, provide the best advice I can, and follow up with resources via email. But when I stack too many of these meetings in one day, it’s almost guaranteed that I’m going to feel drained by day’s end.
Not overscheduling your time is critical in many ways, but it’s especially important when you’re feeling like your resources are depleted. And when it comes to doing favors, I’m a huge fan of doing trades, rather than giving your time away for free. Being an entrepreneur requires you to protect your time. That’s something that many business owners respect and can understand.
2. Mentally reserve some of your energy for yourself. It helps to be mindful of your energy before you use it all up. If you consistently arrive home and crash on the couch, unable to do anything other than scroll through your phone and head to bed, there’s a good chance you’re giving all your energy to others and leaving none for yourself.
To remedy this, try mentally pledging to conserve a fraction of your energy for yourself. It could be 5, 10, or 20 percent. Whatever you decide, check in with yourself over the course of the day. If you’re feeling drained, assess what you can do to regain some of your energy. Try taking a 20-minute break to walk outside, call a friend who will listen, meditate or practice yoga. The goal isn’t to stress over whether you’re “achieving” your goal or not; it’s to leave a little bit of mental and physical energy for yourself at the end of the day.
3. Identify the people who have your back. When you connect with people who genuinely want to support you, a real relationship emerges. There’s more give-and-take than a typical client relationship (although client relationships can and do evolve into true friendships, too). There’s something so amazing about genuine support that doesn’t have strings attached. When you can be authentic with someone, you can vent or share a worry or simply talk about a random moment in your day. And that very often gives you energy, rather than taking it away.
4. Explore other activities that make you feel heard. If your job requires you to be fully attentive to the needs of others (this could be anything from coaching to customer service), you might relate to this: by the end of the day, you’ve spent a lot of time talking, but you don’t feel that you’ve been heard. You’ve been giving advice and acting as a sounding board for others, but you haven’t been sharing your own personal thoughts.
Everyone needs to be able to express themselves on a personal level, and work isn’t always the time or place for that. But you can seek out other opportunities that allow for self-expression. I’m part of a creative writing group in NYC that meets bi-weekly. Each session, each member brings a new piece of writing and we share and receive feedback. Even though it’s another commitment to my schedule, it’s completely worth it. It’s an amazing outlet for me and I always leave feeling rejuvenated.
5. Make time to recharge. Sometimes, you do end up tired or drained. In some cases, it’s inevitable. When that happens, it’s important to take time for yourself so you don’t get burnt out. When I feel like my energy is depleted, I like to do any of the following (depending on what I need at the time):
- Go for a walk.
Take a yoga class.
Attend an event that will inspire me.
Read a book or listen to a podcast that’s motivating.
Call my best friend or family member who will listen to me vent.
Watch mindless TV and let go of whatever is bugging me.
This list is what works for me, but everyone is different. Once you discover the types of activities that help you feel recharged, try to factor them into your routine with some regularity. You don’t have to utilize them for when the tank is completely empty. Instead, you can try to make part of your daily or weekly schedule to ensure that you’re putting your well-being first, not last.