How Do You Manage Your Energy?

How Do You Manage Your Energy?

Do you ever slog through the days, feeling as if you can’t get going? That happened to me last month. I wasn’t sick or depressed—I didn’t have my normal get-up-and-go. That’s when I realized I was “out of spoons.” The spoons represent our energy—and, at least for me—our resilience. Without enough energy and resilience, we slog through our days.

(If you don’t know about the theory of spoon energy, see Christine Miserandino’s talk.)

I wish I had the same high level of resilience every day. Nope—my resilience changes with how I feel, physically and emotionally. However, I use these ideas to manage my energy and resilience:

  • Start with physical resilience. Do I need to drink more water, take a nap, or a walk?
  • Move to problem-solving resilience. Am I using all of myself: the analytical, creative, and street-smart problem-solving abilities?
  • Move to my inner self: Do I need to start small: do the smallest possible thing, get feedback, and then decide how to continue?

These areas of resilience come from Al Siebert’s The Resiliency Advantage.

You might need to create systems to manage all of these. Why a system? In Atomic Habits, James Clear said: “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”

That’s why I review my systems often.

Assess Your Systems

I ask these questions to see my reality:​

  • What do you do for your physical resilience every day?
  • Do you have a preferred set of problem-solving abilities? (I do. I much prefer analytical. That’s why I’m writing fiction, which stretches my creative problem-solving. How can you practice all three kinds of problem-solving every day?
  • How do you create a growth mindset so your inner self can succeed every day?

Last month, when I slogged, I realized I hadn’t changed anything in too long. My systems bored me. I repeated my physical routine—which no longer worked for me. I hadn’t changed my problem-solving approaches either. That meant I wasn’t using the growth mindset.

Start Somewhere

I intended to start with the physical, increasing my workouts. But, my brain played tricks on me. Instead, I started with the growth mindset to build my self-esteem.

I decided to set an audacious daily word count. It didn’t matter which words I wrote—I chose to write 2000 words a day. (I comfortably write 1000 words a day.)

I had to change my systems to write that much and remain healthy. And I started with the book that’s been bugging me for months, the consulting book. Back in the summer, I realized what was missing from that book. I’d have to redraft most of the book to incorporate what I missed.

I hate retracing my steps. Instead of thinking about a “retrace,” I decided to treat this redrafting as a challenge to improve the entire book.

I expect to finish that redraft this week. And yes, last week, I wrote over 15,000 words.

Create and Use a Feedback Loop

Once I started writing lots of words, I created a reinforcing feedback loop that pulled me along. I’m walking more and using different kinds of problem-solving, not just my typical approach.

We Can Build Our Resilience

The spoon metaphor helps me think about ways to build my resilience. I will never have the same physical resilience a person without vertigo has. That’s why I need to get as healthy as possible—for me. Then, I can engage all my problem-solving options. And, when I maintain a growth mindset, I surprise myself with what I can do.

What Do You Do When You’re Out of Spoons?

My suggestions might not resonate with you. In that case, let me know what you do when you’re out of spoons—when you feel as if you’re slogging. I give myself the best chance to succeed when I start with emotional resilience.

Read More of Create an Adaptable Life

If you only read the newsletter, I hope you also read the blog where I write a question of the week each week. Here are other links you might find useful:

Till next time,


© 2022 Johanna Rothman

2 thoughts on “How Do You Manage Your Energy?”

  1. Thank you for sharing these thoughts, and especially the Spoon Theory talk.

    I’m fortunate to have a good number of spoons for my physical health. Going out for a walk is my best way to recharge mental and emotional energy – just spend some time looking at trees. Am not always mindful of when need that break, however.

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