I think I was in a yoga class when I was first introduced to the concept of daily energy and motivation quotas – Cal Wansborough, it was probably you. The idea that each day you wake up in the morning with a unique supply of energy to be used throughout the day – some days you have more than plenty and others it feels like barely enough to get out of bed (hopefully most days somewhere in between).
In my mind there are 3 important parts to this concept:
- What you can do in advance to have some influence over that starting quota – the very obvious things being quality of sleep, nutrition and stress management?
- How much attention you pay to the quota you have – tuning in to how you feel physically and mentally on a daily basis?
- What you choose to do differently as a result of that daily quota?
Personally, I notice quite a lot of variability in both my mental and physical energy levels – I’ll admit some of this is self-inflicted (at my age, a big Saturday night can even affect Tuesday’s quota!) but there are also many days where I know no good reason why I’m feeling particularly perky or flat, just that there’s a noticeable difference from the day before or my general average.
On the miraculously perky days, I don’t ever have to think too hard about getting up and out, being super productive, getting some high quality exercise done and eating well – it just happens (hallelujah).
But on the low battery days, I tend to have a bit of an internal struggle about how much attention and sympathy I should give myself. Should I be listening to my body/mind and modifying my plans accordingly, in the knowledge that I’m not likely to be very productive as a result? Or do I take the approach of ‘acting my way into right thinking, rather than thinking my way into right action’ by just pushing fast my feelings of lethargy, ‘womaning-up’ and sticking to my plans?
If I’m honest, my relatively strong relaxed/lazy streak will nearly always draw me towards the former. So, for me, I’d probably do well to focus on doing some things which lure me away from the slightly self-indulgent behaviour of being led by my quota.
However, for the more type A personalities out there whose natural state will be to push on regardless, there would be benefit from allowing yourself to tune into your body and mind a bit more often and cutting yourself some slack accordingly.
Of course, as I always have to remind myself, this doesn’t have to be black or white – run round like the duracel bunny or remain horizontal on the sofa, there’s plenty of wonderful space in between.
To my mind, the real skills are in:
- The more subtle adaptations e.g. on a low physical energy day, rather than doing very little, swapping your planned heavy session in the gym with going for a walk or doing a yin yoga class;
- The ability to flex habits/plans within any day without feeling like a failure;
- The commitment to staying consistent over a longer period, such as a week or a month, so that overall goals and progressions are still achieved.
So, how much attention do you pay to your daily energy and motivation quotas and how could you work with them, rather than against them, to live a more contented and balanced life?