We’ve all had those moments when we’re lacking in energy or struggling to tackle that task list. Not only do we struggle to have the get up and go, but our complex minds take the opportunity to fill our heads with unresourceful thoughts: we’re lazy, we’re not good enough, we clearly don’t have what it takes to be successful.
Not only have we not tackled the tasks we needed to, but our levels of guilt and self-worth come into question.
For years’ people believed that willpower was what you needed to take action, they’re not necessarily wrong but it isn’t the only thing. In fact, stating that willpower is what you need to have the get up and go is claiming that your mind and thought patterns lead your body into action. One book I read years ago completely turned this on its head for me. Amy Cuddy’s Presence was a hugely thought provoking and impactful book that completely shifted how I tackle those low energy days.
I always liken it to being sat in a long meeting, you know the type, the long (slightly boring) sessions that drag on for hours. You sit there doing your best to prevent yourself from yawning but you can’t help it. Your energy levels are low, you’re not that engaged in the topic, even thinking about what you’re going to have for dinner that night isn’t distracting enough to ‘fake’ that you’re engaged. I used to believe that listening intently and telling myself to focus would be enough to keep me focused (it wasn’t). However, the moment I read Amy’s book, I totally changed that outlook and how I responded to these situations. Rather than my previous attempts to internally tell myself to stay focused, whilst my physical body sunk lower and lower in to the chair, I utilised the psychology behind the book and rather than convincing myself it was my brains responsibility to manage the motivation, I used my body to lead the change in energy.
Amy Cuddy reveals that the body leads the mind in energy and motivation, meaning your mental energy follows your body’s physical energy levels.
I highly recommend reading Presence, it also explores power poses and how utilising these different poses can also improve your confidence and self-belief.
However, for the purpose of improving your get up and go on a daily basis, in a meeting, or on a Sunday when you have a long list of errands to run but you can’t seem to peel yourself of the sofa, it’s simple, you do one thing. You stand up! You stand up and walk around. Go and make a cup of tea, walk around briefly during that meeting, start your Sunday off with a brisk walk around the block, but move! The body moving encourages the brains motivation levels to follow.
The days you’re really struggling with energy, I could almost guarantee you’ve spent most of that day horizontal, barely moving. Try it, get up, do something. Honestly it works! If I’m in a meeting and I feel my head dropping I take the responsibility to stand up, in fact I encourage it in any training sessions I run. If delegates are finding it hard to focus, (and they’ll know because they’ll see my mouth move whilst talking to them, but they won’t hear what I’m saying), I tell them to stand up, walk around the room. I would NEVER be offended by anyone taking responsibility for managing their energy levels!
I’m also a fan of walk and talks during my coaching sessions, not only does it help activate the problem-solving part of the brain, but it actually helps your coachees remain engaged and energised.
Next time you feel like you’re in a low energy phase, stand up and move!