I stopped rambling through the latest onslaught of ideas and stared at the counselor I'd been going to see for a few months.
I wanted to say yes. I wanted to scream at her actually. Yes, of course I have the energy!
But the real answer was no. And I hated how it felt to know that.
I wished she hadn't said it. I wished she would take it back.
So I just stared at her.
She picked a piece of lint from her shirt, looked at it, dropped it on the floor.
In retrospect, it's a bit odd that it took me 35 years to consider the possibility that my personal energy source might have a spending limit. That getting things done, turning ideas into reality isn't just about time or motivation or willpower.
It's about having the right combination of physical, mental, and emotional energy.
And as I have continued to learn and re-learn ever since, it's also about paying attention to what zaps energy and what replenishes it.
I started thinking about and tracking my own available energy stash as clearly as I do my available appointments for scheduling and my finances.
Not because I want every thing I do to be measured, but because I want to have the resources I need in order to do the things I love.
And for a couple of very important reasons, the acknowledgement of a limitation becomes a huge relief.
First, the concept of an energy budget gave me a very reasonable explanation for why it wasn't realistic for me to actually act on all of the ideas that I had. I wasn't a bad or weak or lazy person. In fact, it has helped me become more discerning, more strategic about my own expectations and goals of myself as both a writer and a business owner.
And second, it eliminates a lot of the feelings of guilt that I had around not being able to do it all.
I'm still tweaking and finessing the process every day, but I know that when I miscalculate and end up exhausted and run down for a couple days that it's all information on what to do differently the next time.
And rather than obsessing over my mistakes, I'm able to pick myself up, look things over, and discard what I no longer need.