About the only thing I remember from my ninth-grade physics class is Newton’s first law of motion, which states that an object at rest stays at rest, and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction, unless acted upon by an external force.
Newton’s first law had a profound effect on my life and career, as I came to realize that energy is the single biggest difference between people who get what they want in life and those who don’t. In my experience, the amount of energy you have has more to do with mindset than anything else. Yes, even more than your physical wellbeing.
In simple terms, energy is about the strength and vitality required for sustained physical or mental activity. In our lives and careers, it is about getting things done; accomplishing what we must to be successful. So, in the early days of 2021, with the promise of better times to come, here are my suggestions for having a year like none other:
Have the courage to improve—what the French call “bon courage.” Identify what you have been putting off that could make a profound difference in your life and career. And once you identify that, determine what is preventing you from taking the first step in accomplishing this mission. We often lack the courage to begin something that appears to be overwhelming or perhaps somewhat unpleasant. English writer David Whyte calls it, “having the conversation you don’t want to have with yourself.”
In the absence of courage, we procrastinate and never begin the journey. Or, if we do begin, it is a half-hearted attempt that quickly falters. I have a good friend who is very unhappy in her job, and has been for several years now. In fact, her close friends are tired of hearing her lament about it. She is talented and has options, but she lacks the courage to have that conversation with herself. She is unhappy, and she will remain unhappy, unless her employer decides to cut her loose (just like Newton predicted – unless acted upon by an external force).
Have a bias toward action. An ancient Chinese proverb says, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” and it is so true. Once you have had the courageous conversation with yourself about deciding to stop procrastinating and take action, your next step will be to create an action plan that will get you where you need to be.
Understand that energy does beget energy. Something magical begins to happen when you apply energy to your life. Whatever it is you need to tackle, whatever it is you have been putting off, will begin to take shape as you address the challenge. If people like my friend who are unhappy at work would begin in earnest to seek alternate employment, the universe would open up. I’m not suggesting a job search is easy; in fact, it will consume a lot of time over many months. Yet, the more energy you put it into it, the more the universe will respond. On the other hand, the universe seldom rewards inactivity.
As you create a mindset with a determination to act, there are numerous efforts you can rely on along the way to fuel your journey. Remember that your energy is valuable and must be protected. This means getting sufficient sleep, eating well and having a physical outlet to release nervous energy. This can come from the gym, the golf course, a walking route, yoga and meditation—all viable options.
And lastly, cut loose any “energy suckers” in your proximity: people who are firmly planted on the shadow side of life; who are negative and bring you down. Refuse to spend time with these folks.
With the advent of 2021, use your energy field to create your own magic.