I found Tanja’s website when I first started The Quiet Entrepreneur and wanted to see whether anyone else out there was helping introverts in business. Tanja, whose “other” business is copywriting, is based in New Zealand. Her primary focus, when helping introvert business owners, is on energy management, which is what she’s sharing with us in this article.
~ Julia Barnickle
Do you really need help figuring out when your energy’s low?
On first reading, “how to tell when your energy levels are flagging” might sound like a strange topic for a blog post.
After all, you should automatically *know* when you’re getting tired, shouldn’t you? Especially since we introverts (and other quiet entrepreneurs) are generally inwardly focused, shouldn’t we be intimately aware of what’s going on with our own energy levels?
Well yes, in theory. In practice, though it’s not always quite that simple, for a couple of reasons:
- Many of us are so used to pushing through energy slumps with sheer willpower that we’ve almost lost touch with what’s really going on internally.
- Energy drain doesn’t always show up as physical tiredness: it can wear a number of faces, and not all of them are ones you’d immediately recognise.
Let’s look at these two issues in more depth.
Issue #1: we’re often out of touch with our real energy levels
Even in the heart-based business space that many of us inhabit, there’s a kind of unwritten pressure to keep doing, doing, doing. Most of us know intellectually that solo down-time and self-care are essential to maintain our sanity… But for many introverts, there always seems to be a work or family commitment that’s more important in the moment.
If this sounds like you, you’ll probably find yourself pushing through scheduled breaks, again and again, to first meet this deadline, and then get that problem solved. After all, you rationalise to yourself… you’re not that tired. You still have time available, and the work won’t do itself!
Of course, it’s not just borderline workaholics who have difficulty connecting with their energy levels in the moment. We live in an extroverted world where many of our day-to-day activities carry at least some kind of energy cost. Each individual “price” might only be small… but add them up over the course of a day – or a week – and you end up with a “death of a thousand cuts” situation.
Finally, expectations can also play a huge role. If you’re not expecting something to feel draining for you – especially if you’re enjoying it while you do it – you can be totally unaware of the energy cost. At least, you are until you finish up, get home, and wonder why all you want to do is sit on the couch and vegetate for the next century or so.
Issue #2: we don’t always recognise the way energy drain shows up
The other thing to be aware of with introversion-related energy drain is that it can look very different in different people. Yes, of course, some people feel it as physical tiredness, but it can appear in several other shapes too. Just a few examples include:
- Problems concentrating or focussing
- Creative blocks
- Jumping to negative conclusions and getting easily frustrated with your clients
- Being unable to even see potential opportunities, let alone take advantage of them
- Feeling as though everything’s harder than it should be
- Difficulty dealing with the unexpected
So even if you’re not physically exhausted, if you’re an introvert who’s experiencing the kind of mental and emotional weariness that underlies those examples above, there’s at least a chance that energy drain is behind it.
And that can have some serious impact on how you’re able to run your business.
So if your energy levels are flagging, what can you DO about it?
There are two approaches to managing your energy: reactive and proactive.
Most introverts, if they do any kind of energy management at all, opt for a reactive approach. That means they do their best to keep an eye on where their energy levels are. They might practice mindfully checking in with themselves regularly to see how they’re feeling. They might even monitor where their energy is over time – perhaps journaling or using an energy tracker.
Then, when they start noticing they’re getting low, they take steps to fix it. They might pull back on their commitments, take a “mental health day’ from work, schedule in some extra self-care… whatever they think will refill their energy tanks.
The problem with this for entrepreneurs is that pulling back from commitments – especially at the last minute – can have lasting consequences for their business. Deadlines can only be renegotiated so many times before you develop a reputation for unreliability. Not delivering on your promises is a quick way to get known as being “difficult to work with”.
The alternative is to adopt a proactive, 3-step energy management process that involves:
- Getting crystal clear on the things in your business and life that drain you
- Getting equally clear on the things that re-energise you
- Using your knowledge of #1 and #2 to proactively plan your business and life to ensure you have the energy you need, when you need it
To connect with Tanja, follow her on Facebook or Twitter. Or visit her website.