If there’s one thing I’ve noticed, growing up in American culture, it’s that we like to keep ourselves busy. One minute, we’re sipping coffee and the next, we’re busting our butts to get to work, neglecting all other things — our health, our family, how our partner is feeling — that don’t seem to help us get further.
It’s not unusual we’re like this.
Many of us (including me) have grown up, believing in the American dream — of having a family, of having a house, of having children whom we could teach and pass stories to. Some of us are more ambitious, having the desire and passion to build a million-dollar company or becoming a world-class athlete, while others are simply driven to create.
But no matter how big the dream, we must all work hard to achieve what we truly want.
How can we achieve our dreams sooner, assuming that we all start with the same playing cards (of wealth and convenience and public amenities)?
Well, as most of us would probably say: If only I had more time, if only I put in more hours, I would’ve already gotten what I wanted.
But is that truly the right answer — more time?
The reason why I question our line of thinking around time is because we often don’t manage it well in the first place.
I mean, think about all the labor-saving conveniences that didn’t exist in your grandmother’s generation: credit cards, food processors, ATMs, the Internet, virtual assistants (like Alexa and Siri), and all those recent productivity hacks that’ve made us more efficient: The Pomodoro Technique, listening to coffeeshop background noise, doing sprints. Even though these modern ideas and tools have legitimately “bought” us more time, allowing us the headspace to pursue our dreams more freely, we still feel busy, if not busier than we’ve ever been.
So what the heck are we really doing with our time?!
Maybe time isn’t the answer. Maybe we’ve been approaching it wrong. Maybe what’s more important isn’t just putting in the extra hours day after day, but rather focusing on the very foundation that could prepare us for the long road ahead: Energy.
“If you have time but no energy, time is useless. If you have money but no energy, the money is mostly useless unless you spend it to get your energy back.”
You see, energy is fuel; if we don’t have it or we have low amounts of it, we can’t do much or last very long. This may seem common sense, but look around you — most people are chugging cup after cup of coffee or an energy drink, trying to make it throughout the day. We’re exhausted. Our minds are shot. How can we possibly, given our condition, focus on the dreams we wish to achieve?
People don’t realize this, until it’s too late (either old age or sickness gets to them), but energy is what’s required to do the extraordinary and become extraordinary.
If you want to be as strong as an Olympian athlete, you need energy to train hard.
If you want to write a book, you need energy to sit at your desk for hours.
If you want to become articulate in everyday speech, you need energy to practice talking to the mirror everyday.
Energy gives us the strength and willpower to do the hard work, to buffer any tension that comes from exerting effort. If you had 100% energy capacity to do what is needed, imagine how far you could go? How much you would’ve accomplished? Isn’t that better than having an extra hour or two?
I hope we begin to realize how important it is to prioritize energy over time, because if we did, it’d completely change how we work. Instead of always squeezing every minute of our day to be “productive”, we would have the mental capacity and determination to turn what we didn’t believe could happen so soon, a reality.
If you wish to know how to restore your energy to peak levels to boost daily performance, here’re some surefire ways:
- Get quality sleep — how you prepare for sleep matters much more than the number of hours you sleep (no eating 2–3 hours prior to sleep, turning off electronic devices to avoid blue light, taking sleep aid supplements, setting up blackout curtains, having a white noise machine, buying a quality mattress if affordable)
- Exercise — sounds counterintuitive, but it boosts endorphins, which increases oxygen in your blood, and reduces stress hormones (epinephrine and norepinephrine), making you feel more energized
- Eat more fats and protein — this is what your body craves most (not carbs!); you feel sharper and more energetic when your body uses ketones instead of glucose to burn calories.
- Eat more veggies — it’s what your gut bacteria loves eating; if you treat them nicely with their favorite meal, they’ll repay you back by absorbing more nutrients from your food. More nutrients = more energy.
- Go outside, get some fresh air — your body will produce dopamine and endorphins, both of which enhance your mood, bringing your energy level back
- Do red light therapy for 20 minutes, 1–2x a day — it stimulates your mitochondria (the powerhouse of your cells) to create ATP, restoring your energy levels instantly. It may be a little expensive to pay, but the returns are HUGE especially if you plan on enhancing your optimal self everyday for the rest of your life.