How to Get Rid of the Things That Drain You January 7 2013

Over the weekend I had a great reminder of how much things change over time. I received an email from a coach I worked with back in 2004. She had been cleaning out some files and found a document that she asked me to write for her when we were working together. It was a list of twenty nine things that were draining my energy back then. I was in a bit of a funk in that period and the list included worries about family, health, friends, business – the works really.

As I looked it over, I realized that there were only two things on the list that still bug me – a messy office and messy bookshelves. After nine years of those two, I think I’ve come to terms with the mess.

The rest of the things on the list have been resolved in one way or the other. Honestly, I’d forgotten about most of the things that were top of mind when I wrote it. Of the ones I would have remembered without the reminder, many were resolved because of actions I took. Others just kind of evaporated on their own.

Of course, I have a new (albeit shorter) list today. All of us have things that bug us or weigh on us at any given time. The question is what do we do about it?

By asking me to write down all of my energy drainers, my coach created the opportunity for me to see the patterns and the connections among the items. There were some relatively easy things to do that ended up making a pretty big difference.

While you’re fine tuning your resolutions for the new year, you may want to stop to write down what’s draining you. Keep writing until you run out of ideas. Then, look at the list. What patterns and connections do you see? What are one or two relatively easy things you can do that are likely to make a difference in getting rid of the things that drain you? Start with those and then move on to a couple of more items. If you keep repeating the process, you might just find the list some years from now and realize how much things have changed.

2 Responses to “How to Get Rid of the Things That Drain You”

  1. Jamal says:

    Thanks for this post. I'm a bit confused about the difference you strike between things that 'bug' you and things that 'drain' you. Would my list include mundane things like traffic, that are ubiquitous but unpleasant or would it be restricted to things that demotivate me day to day? How would you suggest one marks the difference between draining and annoying things in one's life?

    • Hi Jamal

      You raise a really good question and distinction. Everything you describe in your comment could be categorized as interference. The great coach Tim Gallwey has a very helpful equation that states our Performance = our potential minus the interference. I share this a lot with clients and ask them to identify whether the sources of their interference are extrinsic (e.g. traffic) or intrinsic (e.g. my reaction to the traffic). The only thing we can really work on is the intrinsic interference (aka the things that drain us).

      Hope that helps or is at least thought provoking.

      All the best –


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