Saving Energy for What’s Important
We are encouraged from a young age to “give it everything you’ve got” when it comes to schoolwork, sports, work, and more. Later in life, we bring that same all-in commitment to all sorts of endeavors, from raising children to saving for retirement, caring for a beloved pet, or growing a bountiful vegetable garden to feed your own family and many others thanks to the potatoes, lettuce, and kale you donate to a local food bank.
All of these acts can involve unconditional love and 24/7 responsibility. And they all take energy. By midlife, many of us feel that we are spread too thin; there is too much going on. We can’t keep up, and sometimes we crash.
One of the many wonderful things about the aging process is that it helps us to focus on what is really important. When it gets harder to hear, we focus on the sounds most valuable to us—meaningful conversations with our near and dear, or the jazz music we love.
The need to preserve our energy as we age is a gift that our body gives us. We learn to make clear and conscious decisions about what to focus on. What do we really value and cherish? What really has to get done today, and what can be put off until next week, or never?
Deciding how to spend our energy can be done in the same way as planning a budget. We have limited resources. There are certain things that we want—that we must—achieve, and others that we now have the wisdom and confidence to reject. So start the week by asking yourself, what do I want to focus my prime energy on this week? Maybe you could write it down, and then organize it into achievable steps.
Quick Wins for More Stressful Weeks
1. Plan a night in with a close friend and order take-out food
2. Minimize your normal housework and cleaning or get help
3. The week before, arrange for any transport to and from the places you need
4. Grocery shop and menu plan in advance
5. Have people ready to talk to before and after any key events like doctor appointments.
Pick a weekly theme like getting your house ready for winter, or sorting through a closet full of old clothes. Maybe one week is all about getting routine physical tests completed. These can be stressful, with follow-up tasks and questions that go beyond just getting to and from the appointment.
On challenging weeks, allow yourself breathing room. Prep what you can in advance; arrange for extra help and support. Don’t forget to add fun and rewards, too!