In April 2020, I wrote an article about how I was using the acronym ALIVE to remain energised as the global pandemic hit. For me, feeling ALIVE means being Active, Learning, Inspiring, Versatile and Embracing the new normal. It served me well as I came to grips with 2020 and everything it threw at us, and I’m delighted the themes resonated with people as I shared them on various platforms. Almost a year on, it’s time to reflect, look at what else has helped me to stay energised, healthy and productive, and share what I’ll use to take me forward in 2021. Time for the sequel: ALIVE and WELL.
I’m passionate about wellbeing. When we’re well, we thrive, but it can affect our whole being if we’re out of kilter. To best describe how I’m staying well and keeping myself energised, I’m going to cover Working with a sense of purpose, Enjoying the great outdoors, Lists and Laughing (a lot!).
There is much evidence that working with a purpose in life goes a long way towards improving our mental health, which gives us the energy to keep going. I must admit, I was struggling a little around August. I would question anyone who didn’t experience at least little blip in 2020! Nothing major, just several things coming to a head that threw me off course, and I ended up crying and not having my usual energy at work. At that point, I needed to discover what would energise me, and I threw myself into one aspect of my role at the time, which was the Culture Leader for Mercer UK. The Culture Leader’s purpose is to ensure that our culture is at the heart of everything we do, keeping it alive in all our teams so that everyone is thriving. I worked to reconnect with people at all levels in the organisation to inspire them to make a difference, and I had a renewed sense of energy.
This is only one example. If you ever feel that you just don’t have the energy you previously had, think about what will bring purpose to your work. Talk to people — they will have insight — and work out how to get that energy back so you can once again work with purpose.
Anyone who follows me on social media will know that I love the outdoors. There is nothing more energising for me than being outside, no matter what the weather. The rush of endorphins from a simple, brisk walk can be enough to energise me and set me up for the day. At Mercer, we’ve introduced #walkntalk meetings to get people outside and away from their desks. Along with championing this, if I’m not running or cycling in the morning, I’ll “walk to work.” Until now, I’ve always lived too far from the office to be able to walk to work. But there’s no excuse when working from home. Others I know incorporate a lunchtime walk into their day, and homeschoolers ensure they take their children outside daily for outdoor activity. Just seeing greenery or water or being in the sunshine can benefit our health and thus energise us.
Next time you’re sitting at your desk, feeling lacklustre or you need a short break, I urge you to put on the appropriate clothing and step outdoors, if only for 10 minutes — I promise you’ll feel better for it.
Do you love a good list? Sometimes there’s nothing more satisfying than ticking something off a list. And who hasn’t been guilty of adding something to the list that they’ve already done just so they can tick it off? In 2020, I was participating in a Partners in Growth program with Mercer. One thing we were coached on was the importance of cultivating daily habits — creating tiny habits, something you do every day, that become the norm over time. I started using these in July and was astonished at how much I achieved in a month by simply completing several small tasks every day. I invested in a whiteboard, wrote down tasks and moved little magnets across the board as habits were completed and renewed each day — a creative to-do list. For 2021, I have a new role and focus and have updated my daily list (habits) to include one social media post, one culture action and one client action every day. At the start of each day, I know if I do one thing in every category, I will move forward with my goals — this energises me and gives my day purpose.
If you lack energy, try creating a list of daily habits that you start today. You’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.
Who doesn’t love a good laugh? Yes, many serious things are happening in the world right now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t laugh when the time is right. I was on a call recently as part of our AccessAbilities group, where we were discussing caring for elderly parents and all the challenges that come with it. One colleague shared that she had many sad times but laughed whenever she could because otherwise, she would cry. There is absolutely a time for crying (and I can cry like the best of them), but don’t forget to laugh too. For much of 2020, my son was in the room next to my home office, and one day he said, “Mum, do you ever do any work? All I hear is you laughing all the time!” Working hard doesn’t mean we can’t still laugh. Next time you’re on a Zoom call, remember to try to bring laughter in — it’s contagious and will definitely lighten the mood and energise the call.
In my blog on ALIVE, I talked about making choices to keep myself energised. One of the choices I made in 2020 in support of my own health, wellbeing and life goals was to reduce my hours to 24.5 per week (worked over four days). This gives me time to train and work with purpose on one of my life goals, which is to win a medal for Great Britain in duathlon (run/cycle/run) in my age group. Having this goal and focus means I enjoy the outdoors through my training — running and cycling. With my coach, we create a list of training each week, and every day, my body knows what to expect because I’ve built a daily habit. Monday is rest day, Tuesday is group coaching, Wednesday early run, etc. And I’m never more animated than when talking about duathlon. Something I realised recently while listening to a podcast I did for a multisport channel — there is so much laughter on there.
I hope this blog inspires you to look at ways to increase your energy levels to be the best, most productive you. I’d also love to hear how you stay energised.