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Sam Davidson's blog

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Posts tagged energy
10 Things You Can Do To Live Longer

If you want to be happy and healthy for longer, try any of these things, all proven to help you live longer:

Shorten your commute

Doing so by 20 minutes lessens your risk of heart attack by 300%.

Smile regularly

Frequent smiling could add seven years to your life.

Volunteer

Lending a hand to genuinely help others can help you live longer.

Get married

Being in a consistent relationship for a long time can help you live longer.

Walk daily

Walkers live longer.

Work standing up

Sitting for more than six hours a day increases your risk for cardiovascular disease.

Have a close group of friends

Close ties with friends can boost your health.

Drink wine or coffee

Moderate drinking of either could help lower your risk of death.

Get religion

Going to church or spiritual gatherings could help reduce your risk of death by 20%.

Stay positive

A positive attitude and sense of humor can help you live longer.

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What's Left

You get up early, work out, get ready for your day, eat breakfast, go to work, work hard, go to meetings, fight traffic, come home, eat dinner, and then you're available for your family. You know this drill, right?

It's a terrible drill.

The way we currently work isn't working. What it means is that when we come home, exhausted, our families get what's left of our time, attention, energy, and concern.

This isn't how it's supposed to be. Work isn't supposed to get our best and our family isn't supposed to be stuck with what's left.

Some days, this is just how it happens, but when it's a pattern, there's a huge problem.

Why do the people we love the most get our second-rate selves?

This doesn't mean we have to slack off at work and do our worst. But it does mean we need to step our game up when we walk in the door and see those we love.

Want to make sure you have the best to offer your family? Here are four things that work for me:

Hang up the phone before you open the door

If you use your drive home to catch up on phone calls, make sure you conclude the call before you walk in your house. Nothing says that something else is more important than blabbing into a phone when you unlock the door to your home.

Take deep breaths and say goodbye to the workday

If you're head isn't clear, your family will be the first to notice. Even if you need to hop online once dinner is over and the kids are in bed, clear your mind before you engage your family.

Change clothes

My dad did this when I was young (so did Mr. Rogers), and apparently Tina Fey (as she recalled in Bossypants) does it, too. When you come home, slip into something more comfortable. Then, you'll be perfectly dressed for crawling on the floor, going for a walk, or doing something fun and messy with the family.

Serve

Want to show your family you care? Make dinner. Tidy up. Read every book your daughter demands you read to her. Bathe the kids. Make the bed. Wash the dishes. Love often looks like cleaning up, I've learned. Prove to your family that they come first by doing anything and everything to help them.

Remember: our family deserves what's best, not what's left. Make sure you have enough in the tank for them as often as possible.

What would you add?

Any tips that help make sure you give the best to those you love the most?

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Passion is Really About Engagement

Penelope Trunk has an excellent post about passion and work. She nails it when she says:

When you say you want to do something you’re passionate about, you really mean, when you think about it, that you want to do something that is right for you. Something that is fulfilling and feels like the thing you should be doing with your life.

She goes on to briefly detail why it is schools teach us the opposite of this.

As usual, this post is well thought-out, well researched, and well written. So, if you're curious about what it really means to be passionate about a job, read her post and then think about what engages you most.

What skill do you possess that you're great at doing? That you can do well almost without thinking? When do you have control over your work? When can you see your work making a difference?

As Penelope concludes:

Figure out what you need in your life to be fulfilled. Find that work. Then, as long as you have control over your hours and you can see how you help people, you will feel good about your work. And you know what happens when people feel good in their work? They stop asking themselves bullshit questions about what they are passionate about.

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Understanding Limits

As Sarah Peck so wonderfully points out, cars have brakes not so they can go slow, but so they can go fast. Gravity doesn't just hold us down, it shows us how marvelous it is when we fly.

Heartbreak reminds us that love is so rare, so precious, and so important.

Age reminds us that wisdom comes with the price tag of time.

Winter makes sure that spring burst forth with vibrancy and color when it's time.

The thing that you think is holding you back may seem like a nuisance. But it's also reminding you - showing you - that hard work, dedicated effort, and intelligent action will surely have a reward.

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Turning Complaints Into Action

One of the 50 things I think people need to get rid of is complaints without action. Bitch and moan if you want to, but sooner or later you need to either get to doing something about your beef or you need to just stop talking and get on to doing something else. Lamenting incessantly wastes time and energy, both of which could be put to good use by righting the wrong or doing something more productive, like cleaning your house. My friend Indie, who was kicked out of the same church my wife and I left many years ago (mostly for the same reasons), has a fantastic post on her blog about standing up for what you believe in and how added responsibilities over the years have made her seemingly speak up less. She rightly recognizes that the root of action is concern and care, and without it, no change can take place.

Her last line is killer, and I think it properly organizes the worlds of cynicism and passion:

I wasn't ranting because I was cynical. I became cynical when I stopped ranting.

Indeed. People who complain aren't merely cynical. We all become cynical when we stop complaining or stop at complaining. The act of doing something - anything - shows a hope and an optimism that something is worth changing. Indie is right. We become cynical when we do nothing, not when we voice a concern.

The big trick (as I mentioned in 50 Things Your Life Doesn't Need) is to move beyond the complaining. The wheels of progress go nowhere if you're unwilling to do the hard work of pushing. I think this is why a lot of things don't change. Anyone can talk; few are ready to push.

Pushing will look different, based on the issue or desired outcome. Pushing to change legislation will require different action than pushing to boycott a product or change a company hiring practice. Pushing for better teachers demands different structures and skills than pushing for lower gas prices.

We need this push, those of us who care. We need to be pushed ourselves, even. We need the lure of better days to push us off our couches and out of our houses and away from our DVRs and into the streets and statehouses. We need someone to push us to be better and make all of us better.

Then, once pushed (by the care of someone else), we can then push against the system or push for justice or push open doors or possibility.

This is the beautiful spot where our complaints that move beyond action - to the push - become a self-fulfilling prophecy. When we act, so do other naysayers. The people who rant with us avoid cynicism, too, by doing something, even if it is pushing others towards forming a coalition of the willing and an alliance of the non-cynical.

Don't stop ranting. Don't stop acting. Do both, together, and watch the world change.

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Skin in the Game

If you want to get someone connected to your cause, mission, or company, let them put skin in the game. When everyone thinks like owners, better work gets done. Michael Hyatt tells a very exciting story about putting up his home as collateral for a loan that could make or break his young company. While the bet was big, it was the only option. Had the stakes not been so high, his energy, action, and follow through would not have been so focused and passionate. When you have skin in the game, it gets serious.

Employees work harder if you can give them a stake in what you're doing. Maybe it's equity, maybe it's a solid vision, maybe it's a benefits plan. Give them something more than a job.

Investors and board members care about strategic decisions being made. Their time and investment is at stake. That's serious.

This is why you have insurance on your home or life. Things are serious and life is real. This stuff matters.

You need to start looking at your career and dreams the same way. The "What happens if this doesn't work out?" question needs to have an answer that puts you all in. Push your chips to the middle of the table and call your passion to see what kind of cards it's holding.

If the answer to that question is:

  • I'll just go back to doing what I do now.
  • I'll find something else to do.
  • I guess it means that it wasn't meant for me.
  • I'll find work that I don't care about or can slog through each day to get a paycheck.

...then you may not work hard enough to turn your dream into reality.

But if the answer is:

  • I couldn't go on. I want to do this or I want to do nothing.

...then you may have the inner passion to see this thing through.

Raise the stakes. Keep betting and calling yourself until there is no other option but to lay all your cards on the table and see what you win.

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Pause More

At some point, we started rewarding motion more than achievement. Being busy (or at least looking busy) became as important as accomplishing something. We cared about input more than output. What was lost in all this hustle and flow was the idea of the pause. We missed out on the chance to take a rest, refuel, and then carry on with a renewed sense of focus so that we could actually do more and be better after resting a spell.

My daughter is now starting to figure out the remote control. She's learned that Mommy or Daddy can fast forward through the scary parts of Finding Nemo or Tangled. She's also learning that the pause button can stop a film in its place, and that lots of things can happen during a pause.

Leo Babauta recognizes the power of the pause and recommends pausing before giving into any urge, whether it's to smoke or work more. Taking time to ask oneself "Why"? can recenter us and refocus our efforts and prevent behavior we don't find beneficial.

Once, during an interview, I paused for 10-15 seconds after each question asked. I announced before the interview began that I'd be doing this because I wanted to be sure to give thoughtful answers. It was me versus a team of five and because I called my shot, these didn't feel like awkward silences. And, it was the best interview I've ever given. I didn't get the job, but I left feeling great about my performance (and in the end, it's a great thing I wasn't offered the gig).

A pause can be our friend. Your urge to rush towards frenzied action is actually your enemy. Your pause is the awkward friend that may not always be cool, but is always right. Listen to her.

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When the Magic Happens

There are no magic "tricks." These clever exhibitions amaze us because they seem to defy logic. But, do a basic Internet search and you'll see how all these tricks are just elaborate ruses that have perfectly good explanations. The same goes for the writer you admire, the conference speaker you look up to, and the entrepreneur who is very successful. There are no tricks. There are definitely no shortcuts. There is no slacking, quitting, giving in, or compromising. The people you think highly of didn't get to the mountaintop by learning some trick. They climbed one step at a time.

This, of course, is the real trick. To slave away at something every day so that eventually, you get good at it. And then great at it. And then the best in the world at it. And then you do it over and over again and people pay you and hear about you and admire you.

As it turns out, hard work is really a "trick" because it still amazes so many people that you'd actually put in the time, toil, and tears in order to turn your dream into reality. Yes, there is a perfectly good explanation. And as soon as you share it with people, they walk away dumbfounded as if you just pulled unending fluorescent handkerchiefs out of your sleeve.

"How does he do it?" they'll say to each other, marveling at what's right in front of their eyes. "Hard work? Lots of rejection? A determined resolve to achieve a goal he's set for himself?"

"Unbelievable."

It is. Hard work is unbelievable.

Get after it and watch the magic happen in your own life.

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Where Your Energy Comes From

Life can be exhausting. Coming and going. Work. Home. Volunteering. Relaxing. Hanging out with friends and family. Trying to meet someone. Forgetting you met someone. None of us feel like there's enough time, which is why we complain about not having any work/life balance. For me, I've found that I'm able to make it through a busy week, unplanned emergencies, tight deadlines, lots of travel, little sleep, or piles of stress by remembering one simple thing:

Where I go to get energy.

There's no doubt you well know what drains your energy. You know the things that take so much out of you. But are you wise enough to know where to go or what to do to regain that energy?

You know where the nearest gas station and grocery store are. When you run out of fuel or food, you know what to do. But it seems like so many of us forget to go back to what gives us energy when we need it most.

Do this: make a list of things that while doing them or after doing them, you feel refreshed, awake, alive, happy, excited, and free.

Then, when you look at a full calendar, drag at the end of a day, or just have a day where you don't feel like getting out of bed, look at the list and do one of those things.

Sure, it means doing one more thing on an already busy schedule. But, just like you need to eat and sleep in order to function, you need to have the energy to get through what needs doing.

As a starter, here are 20 things you can try that might give you energy:

  1. Working out
  2. Powernapping
  3. Eating a healthy snack, like a smoothie, fresh fruit, or almonds
  4. Watching a few minutes of your favorite movie
  5. Listening to a certain album or song
  6. Sending a quick email to a close friend
  7. Having a date night with someone you love
  8. Sipping some delicious coffee
  9. Meeting a friend for lunch
  10. Drawing or sketching
  11. Going for a silent walk (no cell phones) in your neighborhood or at a park
  12. Reading your favorite inspiring quote, poem, or story
  13. Enjoying the art you love most
  14. Trying a new restaurant, coffee shop, or ice cream place
  15. Singing
  16. Laughing at something hilarious
  17. Browsing friends' pictures online
  18. Making lists (maybe even lots of them)
  19. Taking some deep breaths
  20. Completing the task you hate most, first

Remember: the point isn't to delay what needs doing, but to get you the stamina and pep to do all that needs doing.

What's on your list?

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