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By Therese Lardner 

For many people I’ve spoken with over the past 12 months, 2017 has been a year of hectic change, trying to do more with less (I really dislike that idea) and juggling a number of balls to keep everyone else happy.

It seems like the volume button got turned up in 2017!

So, what’s on the horizon for you next year? Will it be a new job, a promotion, upskilling or something else entirely? Whatever it is, with 2018 showing no signs of slowing down, it’s time to think about how you’ll manage the new challenges you’re taking on.

We used to think about managing time as the crucial element determining how well someone copes and how resilient they can be. Problem is, we only have 24 hours in a day. And given that we’re only human and perfection isn’t an option, trying to make sweeping changes to how we use our time doesn’t tend to work for most people. In fact, when it doesn’t work, people tend to feel guilty.

So it's time to think differently. It's time to think about boosting resilience and happiness in terms of managing your energy. Here’s how:

  • According to some psychologists and researchers, there are four different types of energy: physical, emotional, mental and existential. You could simplify this to body, heart, mind and spirit (AKA connection to your own values and a strong sense of purpose).
  • Resilience is like a muscle – if you expend energy in any of these four areas and you then refuel and recover effectively, your capacity to deal with more actually grows (like working out a muscle makes it stronger over time)
  • If one or more of these areas of energy has more going out than going back in, it starts to break down. Basically, if the tank is empty, the car won’t run. Or, if there isn’t enough being expended, it starts to shrink (use it, or lose it!)

Use a simple activity to see where your energy management and resilience is at before you start thinking about what types of changes you can make. On a blank piece of paper, put the headings Physical, Emotional, Mental, Existential. Under each heading, describe how well you manage your energy in that area. How much energy is being expended in that area? How do you refuel and recover? Now think about some small changes you can make, particularly in the refuelling and recovery elements (we tend to forget about this part and think we have a never-ending supply of energy).

One little trick I like to share with my clients is the concept of being 'curious' or 'experimenting' with a change that seems daunting. For example, "I'm curious what it would be like if I didn't watch TV at the end of the night" or "I’m experimenting with a fitness app for my workouts", rather than "I’m not watching TV anymore" or "I need to work out every day". You can see the sentiment is completely different. If you ditch the 'musts' and 'shoulds' and keep changes small to begin with, you reduce the guilt and pressure which tends to result in actual change in the long term.

So, as we are almost ready to leave 2017 behind, let’s look ahead to 2018 with a mindset of curiosity (see what I did there?) – how can I stretch myself at work and at home, but still focus on putting fuel back in my tank so I can take on the next, even bigger challenge? Scrap thinking about time and focus on your energy instead. 

Therese Lardner is an Australian-based registered psychologist with extensive experience in all areas of the employment cycle from recruitment and selection to development, employee engagement and career transition. Click here to ask for her expert advice on landing your perfect mining and resources job, moving up the career ladder or dealing with job insecurity. 

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