This is a topic which gets a lot of interest these days. Everyone is looking for the magic mix, the secret sauce, or the coffee cure-all which will provide them with boundless drive. Our society is motivated by this desire to succeed, to achieve bigger and better things, and to get more done in a day than ever before. This never-ending push leaves many of us feeling exhausted, worn out and lacking energy.
But chemicals and drugs are not the answer to this problem, nor is a 2oz shot of liquid caffeine (regardless of the name which deceptively infers a purpose). These options don't provide energy instead they provide the physical effects of alertness, over-stimulated neurons, and an increased heart rate amongst other more detrimental effects. Energy is something different. Energy is something more.
What is energy?
Since I started this thought with what energy is not I think it's only appropriate to also share my briefest opinion on how I think true energy should be defined. First, I recognize there are many physical factors which affect a person's ability to accomplish tasks. As such there's certainly some aspects of energy which result in a very real and somatic response. But there's a greater issue and a greater need I believe we overlook when considering energy. It's often spoken about in terms of another word: motivation. Someone lacking in motivation could also easily be labeled as someone lacking energy. And yet the two are very different and stand in stark contrast to one another. Motivation goes hand in hand with another concept: enthusiasm. This is how I'd like to describe true energy: having motivation and enthusiasm towards accomplishing a specific goal or objective.
What does lacking energy mean?
If we take this different definition regarding energy and we apply it to the question of what it means to lack energy then we see a very different answer and it leads to a very different conclusion. If energy is motivation and enthusiasm, then lacking energy means in essence lacking motivation and lacking enthusiasm. A person who lacks the desire to do something and holds an apathetic view about a task exhibits a lack of energy. That's a very literal explanation, but again, if we think about this further and apply a bit of psychology into human behavior there are a few more intangible conclusions we can draw.
This isn't a physical problem.
Of course there may be physical reasons energy is lacking due to things such as chemical imbalances and true medical conditions. I am not discounting those cases. I'm merely asking you to consider a secondary cause which gets far less attention. In the definition and subsequent example above we could correctly ascertain the problem lies in the mind rather than the body. A person who doesn't have motivation has a mental obstacle to overcome. The same could be said for a person who goes through their day with an apathetic or half-hearted approach to problems. These aren't problems to be solved by an extra cup of coffee or a mid-afternoon jolt of carbonated sugar water. Something else is going on.
The answer requires action.
I frequently am reminded of a quote by the late Steve Jobs who famously said,
“I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
I think this perfectly aligns with what we're thinking about here. If I may be so bold, what Steve is suggesting is when he lacks the motivation or enthusiasm for what he's doing, he needs to take action to make a change. Or to put it in terms of our topic when you lack energy – change something. Take action.
It seems counter-intuitive when you think about it, taking action would seem to require energy which is supposedly the thing you lack. And yet, what this highlights is the truth that lacking energy often comes from a psychosomatic response rather than a physical one.
How is energy found?
Finding energy is an interesting phrase, it's almost as though we are referring to something lost. And yet isn't that really what we're talking about all along? If your motivation and your determination and your enthusiasm is lost then you have essentially lost your energy - and you need to find it again. Finding energy therefore can be accomplished by re-evaluating what you're doing and why you're doing it. What's your purpose? What's your motivation? What makes you excited? If the answer to these questions is not clear, this is where you should start looking.
You can find energy when you can correctly answer those questions because ultimately your energy comes from your passion. And this is the thought I'd like to leave with you today. Are you lacking energy? Are you hooked on a caffeine-high just to make it through your day? Before you down another cup of coffee, maybe take a moment, look in the mirror and ask yourself if you're truly passionate about what you're doing. Maybe the problem is not your energy after all. And once you solve that problem, you'll have the energy to go much longer than merely 5 hours.