Your three most valuable assets each day are time, attention, and energy.
- Popularity can’t buy you more time than the same 24 hours we all receive each day.
- Saying someone is a priority doesn’t guarantee they have your attention.
- Money can’t buy you more energy, only enough espresso and caffeine to trick your body into compliance.
Research shows that over 134 countries have laws restricting the maximum length of a work week, but the U.S. is not one of them. (U.K. HRM) Factor in that over 85% of U.S. men and over 66% of U.S. women also work more than 40 hours/week and it’s no wonder so many people complain about not having enough time, attention, and energy.
The biggest threat to your energy level
We have schedules to block out time for what’s important to us. People have screen restrictions, phone baskets by the dinner table, and distraction-free writing to keep our attention intact. But what steps do we take to protect our energy?
Energy is more than just how much sleep you get each night. Isn’t it frustratingly profound how drained you can feel after eight hours of sleep? It’s not your mattress’ fault, or your spouse’s, dog’s, cat’s, kids’, or even your diet’s fault. At least, not all the time.
There’s a good chance your energy loss has to do with the people you allow to influence your life both professionally and personally. My faith is very important to me and I see specific places in life where my faith is stronger when I’m around people who encourage my faith. My heart is fuller, deeper, and richer because of time spent with people who remind me of grace and second chances and a call to follow Jesus closer.
The converse is true that I feel spiritually drained when I spend time around people who gossip, are legalistic, abuse grace, even criticize me for not meeting their religious paradigm in crystal-clear comparison. They’re energy vampires, sucking the very lifeblood out of everyday life.
The subtlety of energy vampires
Just to make sure you don’t think I’m simply picking on religious people, let me clearly say that energy vampires can be anywhere. Jon Gordon has a fantastic blog post that warns about energy vampires. It be much easier if they had fangs we could see and fight off, but their work is far more subtle: negative comments, objecting to your dreams, destructive mindsets, manipulation, gossip, and judgmental criticism.
Before you know it, they’ve walked on to their next victim and you’re left wondering, “Why do I feel completely deflated?” It’s because an energy vampire has perforated your lifeblood. I’ve worked with several energy vampires before, people who leech onto your personality and suck all the joy out of life through hyper-criticism or negativity. Then, they leave you gasping for optimism and a sense of mental balance as they seek out their next victim.
How to protect your energy from energy vampires
You are not living at your fullest potential if you are still allowing energy vampires to influence you. There are key steps to protecting your energy from energy vampires…
- Grab a copy of Jon Gordon’s book The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy. As with all books, including the Bible, just because I recommend reading it doesn’t mean I officially endorse everything in it. Eat the meat, spit out the bones.
- Identify energy vampires in your life. I can guarantee you have at least one of them. Whether you choose to confront them one-on-one about their effect is up to you, but I’d only recommend doing that on a case-by-case basis. Think about it. Pray about it. Ask wise people you know, like, and trust to help you discreetly and respectfully identify energy vampires in your life.
- Kick out those energy vampires, just like letting the wrong people off the elevator of your life. Make room for the right people. The wrong people in your life are just taking up room.
- Put up healthy emotional, mental, spiritual, and maybe even physical boundaries to protect yourself from energy vampires. If it’s someone prone to gossiping, call it out as soon as you hear it and change the subject. If it’s someone who constantly criticizes your work in a negative way, don’t give them permission to speak into your work; find someone else who can give you honest, constructive criticism. Read Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend’s book Boundaries if you need good language for communicating boundaries. (Read my review of Boundaries here.)
- Exchange energy vampires with energy givers. This aren’t the “sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns” crowd of eternal optimism; these are people who have a positive, but grounded view of life who have enough life experience to clearly define current realities while hoping for better futures.
Your life will be a more meaningful experience when you remove energy vampires, distance yourself from negative influences, and use all of your God-given energy for whatever He’s called you to do.