Back when I chose “shift” for my word for this year, I’d actually had another potential word rattling around in my head, too . . . and that word was “energy.” In the end, shift won out. (It was just louder. And it seemed like it might be more exciting to explore.) But I held onto that other word. It’s been hovering all year in the background, and I knew that, eventually, the two words would meet up.

You see, I think a lot about my energy level. It seems I . . . stall out . . . more often than I did when I was younger. I’m sure it’s partly a factor of aging, but I think the current state of the world plays a big role in it, too. I mean, I HAVE energy. Quite a lot, actually. I get things done, and I generally feel pretty good. Most of the time.

But . . . I drift. 

And once I start to drift, I’m in danger of a full blown attack of (mostly temporary but still annoying) malaise. Which puts a definite dent in my motivation. (I can really lose my mojo.)

So this month, I decided to let my actual-word (shift) and my almost-word (energy) meet and mingle for a bit. My theory? If I can figure out how to shift my energy (see what I did there?) when I start to feel myself . . . drift . . . maybe I can avoid the malaise/lack of motivation situation.

I started by thinking about . . . the drift. I wanted to know what activates it for me, and how I can feel it happening early enough to launch some sort of early warning system for myself. I came up with this list of “drift-triggers”: boredom, frustration, feelings of overwhelm, wheel-spinning, indecision, and too much “living in my head” (daydreaming). Any of those things will put me in the energy-drain danger zone.

So then, I thought about what makes for a good day; what are the things going on in my life that keep me motivated and moving and feeling energetic? I came up with a very long list, which included things like . . . fresh air, moving my body, petting my dog, knitting or painting or stitching, cooking a favorite recipe, doing word puzzles/the NYT crossword, getting my hands in the dirt, flowers, talking to a friend, finishing an unpleasant task/chore, planning, writing, reading, poetry, meditating, “unplugging” for a while, journaling. (The list is very much longer than this.)(I’ll spare you.)

Then I played around with that list  . . . and I came up with five “categories” or elements I need in my life every day to keep me motivated and moving forward. I need to incorporate . . . 

  • something physical
  • something creative
  • something social
  • something sensory or mentally stimulating
  • something emotional/spiritual

I’ve figured out that if I can make sure I’m “hitting” these five categories every day (or most days), I’m going to feel more balanced and energized . . . and hopefully, more able to avoid the drift. I don’t want a specific “checklist” of activities I need to “do” every day.  I don’t want to “keep track.” (That feels too “prescriptive” to me.) I just want a simple way to understand what I might do – in broad strokes – to stop the drift when I feel it. All of those things on my “feel good” list? They can plug in . . . somewhere . . . into at least one (and probably multiple) of those five categories. I’m not “adding” any new activities or practices to my day (although . . . I could if I wanted to), I’ve just identified the things that help me feel energized.

I guess I’ve created a kind of . . . framework . . . for myself. A new and intentional way to think about what I need . . . so I can feel balanced and whole. Although I’m afraid my “drifting” is inevitable, I’d like to be able to acknowledge it when I feel it happening – and work from my new “toolbox” to get myself back on track. Feeling stuck? Get outside. Feeling the overwhelm? Pet the dog. Can’t make a decision? Go pull some weeds. Tired? Read some poetry. Uninspired? Play with your paints.

That kind of thing.

It’s essentially . . .  just a new and more intentional way for me to think about things.

Y’know. . .
A shift!