Allocating Life Energy

Each day we have so many things before us that we need to do, from supplying food to our bodies to make energy, getting rest we need, doing work, healing up when sick, engaging in new adventures, whatever it is the day brings, our bodies have a limited amount of energy that needs to be properly allocated between physical survival needs, life engagement, working to supply resources and materials for our needs, and all our other activities lest we exhaust ourselves and find ourselves incapable of doing much or even worse, dying prematurely.

Years ago in the early 1970s, at the dawn of the personal computer age (the government had been using them for years and some exclusive giant corporations) I was introduced to the first PCs with black screens and green “dashed” lettering. With great excitement I played my first fantasy role playing games on computer, they were “text” or “narrative” games where you had to type in your actions, like “Go west” and “Pick up key” and then you’d find out the results of your actions. Soon, computers evolved to the whitish blue “dashed” lettering and the Apple II came out and life took off from there.

Being a teen, I could not afford my own computer, but a local businessman opened a shop full of Apple II computers and sold “rental time” on each computer to users. I’d go in, sign up, and then get on a computer for $5 an hour (not a bad deal). His shop was always full, and he had 16 computers running, so he made $800 to $1000 a day. I spent hours there playing a star fleet battles game where you could fight using ships from all the popular space war movies and shows. You could take Star Trek ships against Star Wars ships or even Battlestar Galactica ships. It was an incredible concept.

Each turn you gave commands to your ships, navigation commands, life support, shield energy, firing weapons, repairs, and more; BUT the caveat was that each ship had a limited amount of generated energy it could use each turn based on its energy generation the turn before and damage from battle. So you had to really prioritize your needs and stick to essentials and balance it all out if you wanted to win. Did you need repairs to bring ship’s engines or defenses or offenses back up to par so you could use them? Did you need to boost life support, or allocate energy to shields to withstand an attack? Did you need to allocate energy to weapons so you could fight off your foe, or energy to bank your ship in a new direction or increase speed?

YOU COULDN’T DO IT ALL.

Even at full capacity there was a harmonic balance of energy allocation that was maintained and adding extra energy to any task took it away from another. And there were ship accidents, crew situations and sicknesses, things to deal with that required energy. What an amazing lesson for life.

When I was young my energy capacity was very much higher, I hardly even thought about what I could and couldn’t do in a day, I just charged into the day and did it all, whatever I could do, and anything left undone was simply finished the next day. My body was more resilient, so I could starve for two days and not even care, and when I finally ate some food, I could eat a horse, as they say.

But as we age, our bodies begin to allocate more energy to simple maintenance, digestion, immunity, core temperature, and we find we can’t physically do as much as we used to before tiring out. That’s because our “engine capacity” is diminished by wear and tear and age, sometimes by injury or sickness or maladies. And this robs energy from our brains, our higher thinking, and limits the physical work we can do in a day. Suddenly we find that our energy allocation needs to be adjusted. Whereas we used to have 50 points to allocate to our daily bodily needs and our other life-engagement activities, we now have 35. We have to decide to do less.

In the star fleet computer game it was impossible for me to allocate more energy than I had. In other words, I couldn’t “command” or “plan” to do more activities than the energy I had to support them. But in life, we can certainly command or plan to do more than we can handle and then we run out of the energy to support all the things we need or want to do and we shut down in some way, either we become so fatigued we can’t keep working, or we get sick and have to take actions to get well, or we lose some of our mental acumen and get dull, bleary-eyed, disoriented.

Sometimes I tell my wife, “Honey, I can’t think anymore. I need to take a nap so I can think again.” That’s one of the side effects that hits me when I try to do too much and over-allocate energy I don’t have. So a great key in staying productive and energized to do all the things that we want to do in life, no matter the stage or season of life, is to be attuned to how much life energy we have to allocate to all our activities. If we burn ourselves out we will not be fulfilled and will even get ill or fatigued.

All you young folks have a lot of energy to allocate, so don’t waste it on too many leisure activities, or on idleness which can eat up energy too. And by God, don’t waste it on TV and endless hours on the constant cyber-space mind-feed. Take control of your life and wisely allocate your energy to accomplish all the things you want to accomplish in life with proper time to rest, regenerate, enjoy entertaining or amusing activities, and eat. Keep the important things important, like your marriage, your family, your job. If you allocate energy to other things you won’t have the energy or time to properly nourish your marital and family relationships, you’ll get caught up in the rush of success in the world and forget to take time for yourself, time to enjoy nature and this amazing natural world around us.

The advantage we all have as we get older is that we become seasoned, experienced, wiser, we can utilize time more efficiently, we get better at strategizing our time and delegating to others. We let people do things instead of trying to do it all ourselves. But let’s be real, we also lose a lot of our life energy capacity. So we need to adjust. If we keep going like we think we have all the energy in the world to do everything, we will ultimately hurt ourselves, get sick, miss out on important things, and get too damned tired to carry on.

I remind myself of the Vince Lombardi quote: “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” He didn’t say that in the context of that we should NEVER be tired. He made that statement in the context of self-control and self-mastery, that we allocate the life energy we have to take time to condition ourselves, to train ourselves to perform, to build a capacity to dig deeper and rise to the occasion when needed, to keep the important things important so we are ready to handle life successfully, and this included taking the proper time to rest and regenerate when we need to.

So take the time to think about your allocation of your life energy. Do you use it wisely? Are you allocating to the important things and letting the unimportant things go? Are you staying focused on meeting needs rather than letting wants, and fun, and leisure steal more time than is healthy or productive? Are you keeping your body healthy and nourished properly or assaulting it with too much food (overeating) or with bad foods? None of us will ever get away with cheating on the life energy capacity that we have to allocate. Eventually our bodies, minds, or lives will suffer in some way to make up the difference.

You and I have the power to be disciplined and in control of ourselves so that we allocate the life energy we have wisely and continue to live successfully, productively, happily, and efficiently—fulfilled in all we do. So think it through and do it right. You know what to do. So just do it. Remember, life is good, let’s keep it that way.

Getting On Top of Things

It’s amazing how life can sneak up on us and we get so overcommitted with so many things that we end up missing out on the things we love because we have so many obligations to fulfill. That’s what life has been for me these past 8 months.

So now I am working hard to get on top of things. It takes incredible resolve to simplify and keep moving forward rather to than throw up my hands in disgust and quit. I’ve been quitting too much these past number of months preferring to play games and mess around to “escape” from the obligations.

Oh, I’ve done a good job of getting by with the minimal amount of work so that red flags don’t go up. But it’s been such a burden and I know how it works because I have been supremely efficient in the past. I wouldn’t be enjoying the incredible success that I have if I was never efficient.

So what happened?

Age.

That’s right. It’s not a complaint, I’m not whining about it, I’m just facing the reality that I can’t spin as many plates as I advance in age and my capacities seem to have diminished. So it’s just time to adjust to the season of life, adapt, and keep moving forward accomplishing as much as I can.

I’ve always been a “driven” individual with a strong inner compulsion to be productive, proactive, to succeed, and to be fulfilled. I love doing good stuff for people, serving and helping others. But I let myself get buried in overcommitments.

Run from overcommitments. I’ve always been good at saying NO when I need to, when I can’t handle adding more plates to spin. That’s not the problem. My problem is that I still think and act like I can do all the stuff I did 10 years ago and I can’t. So I have to face reality and accept the fact that my capacities have diminished, but my skills have not. So, I need to reassess what I really can handle and then say NO more often.

I still do more than most people, including young people. But whereas I used to run circles around others when it came to productivity, I now only walk around them. So I accept that and hopefully the lessons I learned in these past 8 months will help me to only take on the number of plates I can keep spinning.

Life is good. Keep it that way.