professional development

How to unlock energy, persistence and resilience

Eve Ash /

Energy fuels our lives, our housing, transport and infrastructure needs, through coal, wind, solar, gas, water and so on. Psychologically, humans respond to a similarly wide range of sources.

The key to successfully powering yourself will vary over the course of a lifetime. As a kid, you may have loved blockbuster movies, going on hikes, and playing sport. As we grow and experience challenges that may batter self-esteem and hopes for the future, finding sustainable sources of emotional energy becomes a new kind of boot camp. When bodies age, they require different exercises to maintain strength and suppleness; so do our emotions.

When it comes to new ways to instil energy, consider the tools you need for life’s obstacles. They are often right in front of you.

Maintain foundation energy over time

If you’re stressed or beleaguered by what’s going on in your life, this may be a time to batten down the hatches. It’s exactly what sailors did in a storm. They did not charge ahead into the waves and risk trashing everything during the tempest. They ensured things were safe. They protected their ship and its cargo. Hunker down, sit tight and know that you’re going to weather this time in your life. You’re conserving energy until the sun comes out.

The “sun” can be many things: a new job opportunity, generous and unexpected words of support from someone you know, a financial lifeline. Whatever it is, you’ll start seeing the way ahead once more. No need to describe what’s going to happen next — you’re off, and life feels brimming with possibilities. You’ll pace yourself a bit more, however, knowing the sun isn’t always going to be there. Look after your health, eating and sleep habits — they provide the foundation from which the rest of you springs. 

Prepare for persistence

If something is refusing to happen despite your efforts, it might be wise to draw breath and consider the following:

  • What are the obstacles? Who or what’s standing in the way?
  • What are the opportunities and timing for this objective? Perhaps the time isn’t ripe for what you’re trying to do, or there’s other ways to further what you’re doing?
  • What insights support this? What makes you sure you’re going about this in the right way? Is this what you really should be doing? Do your research.
  • What’s needed on my part — and that of others — to achieve this objective? Are there additional tools, strategies or the input of others you could be drawing on?
  • Are people lining up behind your objective or refusing to be involved? Perhaps you need to take a look at yourself?

You need to understand more about what is holding you back so your efforts to persist are targeted.

Resilience for reinvention

One of the toughest times to develop resilience is when you’re having to re-invent yourself.  Your career or work prospects may have stalled and there’s a chorus of Waldorfs and Statlers (the old heckling grumps in The Muppets) jeering and disparaging your every move. We all hit the skids somewhere along the line; you can feel very low and isolated.

How do you bounce back?

  • Find your true friends. They’re the ones who don’t mind if you look crappy or if you repeat your problems, who don’t present their backs when they see you approaching, or who may have constructive, if sometimes “tough medicine” suggestions. Listen to their advice and for their sake (and tolerance levels), be a friend in return. Others are experiencing difficulties too; your bad times develop your empathy and ability to truly know how and what can go wrong.
  • Avoid shallow, formulaic thinkers. Resilience is best aided when you find ideas and remedies that resonate with you
  • Don’t wallow in media stories to the point of saturation. It’s good to be aware of what’s happening in the world, but it can pull you down too.
  • Tell your inner critic to shove it. Conjure up a dispassionate inner sage, who encourages you instead.
  • Look at new skills you can develop. Do some training, see what’s needed, brace yourself and say, “Everything I learn is taking me forward, to places and prospects I never imagined”.

Finding new energy

I’m trying a few ways to combat long term exhaustion from more than seven years of fighting a legal case. My strategies include:

  • Taking magnesium;
  • Getting more sleep or naps, because I am always short of sleep;
  • Drinking more water;
  • Eating power snacks with protein;
  • Walking around during phone calls;
  • Taking pilates classes;
  • Saying no to events I don’t need to attend and tasks I can avoid; and
  • Being proud of what has been achieved.

Chug, chug, chug: that’s your train slowly gaining momentum. Remember the old story about the little engine that could? “I think I can, I think I can, I think”…Then, whoosh!!

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Eve Ash

Eve Ash is a psychologist, author, filmmaker, public speaker and entrepreneur. She runs Seven Dimensions, a company specialising in training resources for the workplace.

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