When you wake up in the morning would you describe yourself as fully charged? If you're like many people recently surveyed chances are you're shaking your head and instead feel more like you're struggling to get out of bed. For example, when more than 10,000 people were recently surveyed only 11 percent reported having a great deal of energy.
But studies suggest that when you're fully charged, you get more done, you have better interactions and your mind is sharp and your body is strong. You experience higher levels of engagement and wellbeing that can create an upward spiral of success for the things that matter to you most in your life.
After identifying and cataloguing more than 2,600 ideas for improving our daily experience, Tom Rath, a senior scientist and advisor to the Gallup Research Organization and best-selling author, has discovered there are three conditions most likely to differentiate days when you feel fully charged from typical days.
Want to know what they are?
"Most research on wellbeing over the last century has been based on asking people about how satisfied they are with their lives over the span of years or decades. As a result when it comes to improving their lives most people think about broad concepts like health and wealth," explained Tom when I recently interviewed him at the World Congress of Positive Psychology. "This is why the wealthiest countries are consistently at the top national wellbeing rankings."
"Changes in technology over the last decade however have made it much easier to measure people's thoughts, feelings and behaviors on a daily, even momentary, basis and this is leading to very different conclusions about the best investment of our time and resources when it comes to our wellbeing," Tom said. "For example, traditional measures of life satisfaction might suggest putting a great deal of energy into increasing your income, but we've found making more money does not actually change people's daily experience of life once you've reached a basic level of financial security."
While your overall satisfaction with life certainly matters, researchers are finding that meaningful changes are created in moments and days, not years and decades. Tom's research suggests in particular cultivating meaning by doing something that benefits another person, creating more positive interactions and making choices that improve your mental and physical health can leave you feeling more fully charged.
"The good news is that we've found you don't have to go on a retreat in the woods to find meaning, you don't need to find new friends to have better interactions or run a marathon or embark on a fad diet to create physical energy," reassured Tom. "The biggest changes for your daily wellbeing can be achieved with a few small steps."
Tom recommends trying the following:
- Cultivate meaning While meaning might sound like something that descends from the heavens researchers have found it's really the small, little wins throughout the day that allow you to help others that are most likely to cultivate meaning in your work. So, if you're in a customer service role and you do one thing that makes another person smile, that's a small win that makes a difference for that person. If you're a computer programmer and you finally find the bug in your code that's been causing users frustration for days, that's a small win that makes a difference to others. Try to start recognizing the small ways you help others on a regular basis throughout your day to bring the meaning back into your work on a moment-by-moment basis.
- Make your interactions more positive Our relationships in life are the sum of all the little interactions we have with people we know and care about and spend time with on a day-to-day basis. Any time you have a negative interaction, you do need at least three to five positive interactions just to get back to having a decent day. So try to make at least 80 percent of your interactions more positive than negative by focusing on the energy you're infusing into an interaction with another person. Giving people your full attention is a great place to start.
- Manage your energy To make sure you have enough physical energy to be effective each day start by getting a good night's sleep so you have as much potential as possible and then find ways to build activity into your routine throughout the day. Instead of worrying so much about exercise, try to find ways to keep moving by building little breaks and bursts of walking around or simply standing up and moving your arms around as you're working or walking around while you're on phone calls. Also be mindful about eating some of the right foods on a day-to-day basis that help you to sustain your energy throughout the day and enable you to get a good night's sleep. This will start an upward spiral where you begin to have progressively better days. Visit eatmovesleep.org for a free 30-day plan to help make these small changes.
If there were one small change you could make today to feel more fully charged, where would you start?