By: Brian Tracy
You may have a thousand different goals over the course of your lifetime, but they all will fall into one of four basic categories. Everything you do is an attempt to enhance the quality of your life in one or more of these areas. The first category is your desire for happy relationships. You want to love and be loved by others. You want to have a happy, harmonious home life. You want to get along well with the people around you, and you want to earn the respect of the people you respect. Your involvement in social and community affairs results from your desire to have happy interactions with others and to make a contribution to the society you live in.
The second category is your desire for interesting and challenging work. You want to make a good living, of course, but more than that, you want to really enjoy your occupation or profession. The very best times of your life are when you are completely absorbed in your work.
The third category is your desire for financial independence. You want to be free from worries about money. You want to have enough money in the bank so that you can make decisions without counting your pennies. You want to achieve a certain financial state so that you can retire in comfort and never have to be concerned about whether or not you have enough money to support your lifestyle. Financial independence frees you from poverty and a need to depend upon others for your livelihood. If you save and invest regularly throughout your working life, you will eventually reach the point where you will never have to work again.
The fourth category is your desire for good health, to be free of pain and illness and to have a continuous flow of energy and feelings of well-being. In fact, your health is so central t your life that you take it for granted until something happens to disrupt
it. The common denominator of these four goals, and the essential requirement for achieving each of them, is a high level of energy. The achievement of even a small amount of success in any one of these areas requires the development and expenditure of energy. Energy is a critical fuel and the one ingredient without which no other accomplishment is possible. The aim of strategic planning for corporations is to find ways to organize the business to increase ROE, return on equity. ROE refers to the return on the capital invested in the enterprise. By shifting resources from areas of lower value to areas of higher potential value, the ROE in the business can be increased. In personal strategic planning, the aim is similar. It is also to increase ROE, but in this case, ROE stands for return on energy. All the work on personal development, selfimprovement, goal setting, and time management is aimed at helping you to increase your return on energy, or as my friend Ken Blanchard calls it, “your return on life.” You are continually organizing and reorganizing your time and your resources so that you can get the very most pleasure, satisfaction, and rewards from the time and energy you put into your activities on a day-to-day basis. Whereas companies have financial capital, you have human capital. Your human capital is composed of mental, emotional, and physical energy. The more energy you have to invest, and the more intelligently you invest it, the greater will be your rewards. It is not the amount of time that you spend at your work or on your relationships that matters. Rather, it is the amount of yourself that you put into the time. If you have gone to bed late, gotten up early, and gone to work tired, you may be physically present for eight hours, but the quality and quantity of work that you can accomplish during that period of time is compromised. You’ll achieve only a small percentage of your potential productivity compared with what you can accomplish when you are fully rested and filled with enthusiasm.
In every area of your life, it is the quality of the time that you put into your activities that determines the rewards and satisfaction that you receive from them; this depends upon your energy level. Building and sustaining your energy level is imperative. Since your energy is central to everything you accomplish, you should be very sensitive to things that either build or deplete it. Here are six keys to building and maintaining a high level of energy and vitality:
1. Proper weight. Carrying extra weight on your body is like carrying a pack loaded with bricks on your back — uphill. Excess weight tires you out. It taxes your heart, your lungs, and your muscles. Extra weight forces your body to burn up more energy than it normally would just to maintain life and proper functioning. On the other hand, losing weight will increase your energy level almost immediately. Your self-esteem will go up. You will feel healthier and happier. As you lose weight, you will feel a greater sense of power and personal control. When you reach your ideal weight, you will be more effective in everything else you do.
2. Proper diet. The foods you eat have a tremendous impact on your energy level throughout the day. Changes in your diet can make you feel fresher, more alive, more alert, and filled with greater vitality than you can imagine. The way to live to a ripe, happy, healthy old age is to shift the proportions of food you eat so you are consuming more fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain
products. When you get used to eating highly nutritious foods, you’ll be less willing to eat foods that are not particularly good for you.
3. Proper exercise. The more regularly you exercise, the more energy you have, the better you feel, and the longer you will live. Regular exercise enhances your digestion, reduces the number of hours that you need to sleep, and increases your vitality in the physical, mental, and emotional realms. There are three basic types of exercise: flexibility, strength, and endurance. Flexibility exercises, such as yoga, require gentle stretching of all your muscles and the articulation of each of your joints each day. The more you stretch your muscles on a regular basis, the more relaxed, coordinated, and looser you will feel. Strength exercises include calisthenics, weight lifting, and other exercises that build your muscles. But perhaps the most important are endurance, or aerobic, exercises. One of the keys to long life and good health is aerobic exercise at least three times per week for a minimum of 30 minutes per time. You can achieve aerobic fitness by walking, running, swimming, cycling, rowing, or cross-country skiing. The important thing is that you exercise at least three times per week — and many people say five times per week — for the rest of your life. This will affect your levels of health and energy in everything else you do. Everything counts.
4. Proper rest and recreation. On average, you need seven to eight hours of good, solid sleep each night. Some people can get by on less. But you should plan and organize your evenings so that you are “early to bed and early to rise.” Remember, nature demands balance in all things. If you are going to work hard during the day, you must take time off to rest and recuperate in the evenings and on the weekends. The more balance you have between work and recreation, the more energy you will have and the more productive you will be.
5. Proper breathing. By breathing, I mean deep diaphragmatic breathing, where you fill your lungs to the count of 10, hold to the count of 10, and then exhale to the count of 10. If you do this seven to 10 times, two or three times per day, you will be amazed at how much fresher and more relaxed you feel.
6. Proper attitude. Positive Mental Attitude seems to go hand in hand with great achievement and success in every walk of life. The more positive you are, the more energy you have. The more positive you are, the happier you are. The more positive you are, the more positive are the people and situations you attract into your life. The more positive you are, the easier it seems for you to get the cooperation of other people. The more positive you are, the more effectively you perform. On the other hand, negative emotions drain your energy, enthusiasm, and vitality. They tire you out and depress your immune system. Bouts of fear, anger, doubt, resentment, or guilt will be manifested in your physical body. Keep your energy level high by always looking for the good in every person, in every situation. Seek the valuable lesson in every setback or adversity. Look for the equal or greater benefit that comes out of every disappointment. Be a perennial optimist. Be cheerful and positive. Be helpful and supportive. Be a source of encouragement and inspiration. Be the kind of person everybody looks forward to seeing and talking to. Every success is the result of hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of tiny efforts that nobody may ever see or appreciate. These tiny efforts, sacrifices, and disciplines accumulate to make you an extraordinary person. Everything that you do counts in some way. Nothing is neutral. Everything either helps you or hurts you. Everything either adds up or takes away. Everything either propels you toward your goal or moves you away from it. Everything counts. With regard to your levels of health and energy, everything that you do, or don’t do, will have an impact on how you feel and how you perform. And the results of all these activities are cumulative. People who are healthy and energetic in their 50s and 60s were engaging in positive health habits in their 20s and 30s. People who live a long, healthy, happy life into their 80s are people who began planning for it and disciplining themselves in their 30s and 40s. Everything counts.