For all of us who perpetually feel that there aren't enough hours in the day, performance psychologist Jim Loehr argues that managing your energy is far more important than managing your time. And while the time bind gets all the press, Loehr must be onto something: Oprah says that when she read his book, The Power of Full Engagement (Free Press), coauthored with Tony Schwartz, she thought, I've been doing this for years. Nicole Keeter engages with Loehr.
Nicole Keeter: You encourage people to actively seek stress, though most of us have been taught that stress is unhealthy and to be avoided.
Jim Loehr: It's a conundrum. People think that they're being devoured by stress, but I always ask them where they got the strength they have now. Has it been from the storms, the challenges—the stress? Or from the good times, the great parties? In every case, people say that what's pushed them the most has helped them the most. Stress pushes us to expend energy emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Then comes a period of recovery and healing—and growth.
Nicole Keeter: You developed much of The Power of Full Engagement through years of working with world-class athletes. How did you connect these ideas to the energy use of average people?
Jim Loehr: Athletes think about energy recovery. Most people don't. If there's a massive energy expenditure, you need an equivalent recovery period or you end up exploding. It's an exciting concept because it gives people permission to go to the beach.
Nicole Keeter: We tend to see taking a break as a waste of time.
Jim Loehr: So many people give 100 percent all day long, but they never renew. Renewal can be doing yoga, getting a massage, listening to relaxing music, turning off your cell phone on the way home, or eating five or six small meals a day rather than one or two bigger ones, to keep your blood sugar up. We usually try to give people one or two things maximum that they can do to convert a negative habit into a positive ritual. If you bring every resource you have to making one change the most important thing in your life for 30 to 60 days, it will start to take. Within four months, you might put together two or three of these, and the balance of your life will begin to shift.