"What gave me life today?"
"What took life away?"
Now if those questions sound just a little too California for words, feel free to substitute your own words. As in, What gave me joy today? What ticked me off? The more you ask these basic questions, the easier you will find it to ...
(a) break free from a rut and move forward
(b) do more of what energizes you, and
(c) stop doing what drains you.
If you take time to ask yourself these questions every week, or better yet every night, you will start to see patterns—and you'll be more likely to do something about them. A few examples from my own week:
What Gave Me Life?
- Laughing with a friend over things only the two of us find funny
- Someone going out of their way to teach me a few sentences in Spanish
- Leaving Friday free of meetings and appointments; getting so much done
All of these point to a need for social connection, a desire to keep learning, and some semblance of control over my time and my life.
What are the values you can't live without? You may find, as I have, that they don't just happen automatically—especially the friendship connections. They have to be built in and protected, or they tend to get sacrificed.
What Drained Life?
- The meeting that went on forever, like a big rudderless boat. Feeling stuck, like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.
- Losing my Internet connection, without warning or explanation
- Paying my first (big) bill on Venmo and getting hit with a hefty fee
Okay, so I don’t like long meetings and I don’t like surprises. What drains you? And what steps can you take to tilt your life more toward what energizes you—and away from what drains you
For example, I'm learning to safeguard my Fridays so that I can wrap up what needs to get done—and go into the weekends feeling free to work, but not obligated.
Where in your life would you like to make some changes?
Maybe it's your career, your friendships, or your free time. Asking yourself those questions—What gave me life? and What took life away?—can help you gather the momentum you need to make those changes much more doable. Try it! And notice how much better you feel afterward.
Special thanks to my friend Tom for passing along a book called Sleeping With Bread: Holding What Gives You Life and to St. Ignatius of Loyola, whose Spiritual Exercises inspired both the book and this Pep Talk.
Your highest values have to be built in and protected, or they tend to get sacrificed.
— Gina DeLapa