'Where do you find the energy to do the things you do?'
'Wow, you are full of energy!'
'I just don't have the energy to do it!'
These are phrases we all use and have often heard expressed about others and perhaps even ourselves. Like it or not, the more science delves into our bodies and our surrounding world, the more we understand that we are pure energy. We vibrate at certain frequencies that effect our surrounding world and our internal world. But where does energy come from and how can we harness it? If only energy came out of a tap!
I was discussing with my son this morning, the basics of hydroelectricity (thanks Google) and it got me thinking about how energy is manufactured, how it changes and how it can be utilised. Without energy we wouldn't have electricity, we wouldn't do anything and our bodies and brains wouldn't run effectively.
Think of the quick energy you gain from eating chocolate, having a coffee or going for a run. Often these sources of energy are temporary and help us get through our days, but we also have other more lasting sources of energy. Some of our organs and cells require quick sources of energy, others take our food and convert it into energy for a longer time, lasting over a few days.
Where do you gain your energy from? Here are some of my favourite sources. These energy taps are things we often take for granted but are real energy sources.
Sleep is an excellent source of energy and something we really undervalue. I have been involved in a wellness measurement program called First Beat, which uses a device that measures stress and regeneration across a week. It shows when you are 'recovering', that is regenerating and gaining resources but also when you are under some stress. It is based on Heart Rate Variance and using specific algorithms, measures bodily stress, exercise benefits and shows you over a week how you use your resources. MY finding was that I am in greatly need of daytime recovery. I don't regenerate at all during the day and while this is not bad, if I don't recover well in the evening and overnight during sleep, I am depleted for the next day. Over the course of a week my resources are often really depleted if I don't sleep well. Food intake, alcohol and simple late nights also effect these measurements. Sleep is therefore important, as a source not only of rest, but to gain energy and to recharge your resources. I now make it my mission to go to bed early. There is no shame in it!
Another place I gain energy sometimes is through fasting. I find now, I don't need to eat as much food as I used to in my 20's. As I approach my 40's I think my body is changing and so consuming meal after meal leaves me feeling full on top of full. At the moment, I am trying not to eat each day after 7pm in the evening and only eat again at 12pm the next day. This allows my body to fully use up the resources it has and to use the energy from the food I have eaten. It also gives my body a break from the extra meal or two and the snacking. I find that I actually have more energy when I don't eat as much. I eat when I am really hungry and not at the first sign of hunger. I am not suggesting this is the way for your but trying some fasting and engaging in a conversation with your Doctor to find out more could be an option. There must be a reason why all major religions have some form of fasting. The 5:2 diet was also something I tried a few years ago to great benefit.
Can you remember the last time you have a lovely heart to heart with a friend, where you both came away from the conversation feeling the love and energy of connection? Conversations with good friends, can also give energy. It doesn't have to be with a romantic partner to achieve this kind of feeling but when we really listen and feel listened too, we create an energy and uplift each other. Science talks about mirror neurons and actually becoming more in sync with each other and I am sure this is true. Genuine connection helps me. I am trying to commit this year, to have at least one of these conversations a week with someone I care about. To really listen with empathy and awareness and to just be there. To connect and see where the conversation could go. We all crave connection and being heard. Imagine if this could happen more easily. Where would your life go?
Music, like I mentioned in my last blog post on playlists, is another big source of energy for me. At the moment, I am really loving some of the music from 'The Greatest Showman'. I get a lump in my throat at a couple of songs which clearly resonant with me. They give me energy and inspire to keep expanding my abilities, delivering content such as this post and to expand my network. Living in a foreign country is not easy but is made easier with energy and music!
Create your playlist, add to it, be inspired and listen everyday. The effect might not always be the same, but music makes life more interesting!
Finally, consider doing exercise and getting into nature. Why not combine the two? I don't do this often enough but at least living in Vienna, nature is on our doorstep and we have many available walks and paths to explore. I have a gym membership which I regret buying as I am not motivated to use it, but for some gyms are an essential part of their day. The energy they gain from using their resources and working their bodies is great. Being around others who are also working out can increase out motivation and energy. Group exercise is popular as there is a collective sense and spurring each other on can be a good thing.
Our bodies are energy instruments we can control with exercise, sleep and diet and we can achieve a lot with physical energy, but don't forget the mental and emotional aspects of energy, where we can gain energy from friends and family, great nurturing conversation and music.
Finally, don't be stingy with your energy, give it away for free. Pour your energy into things that make your heart sing and topics that you are good at. This will fuel your passions and purpose and you might find that energy simply appears, you find flow and you achieve more than you think you can!
'That's music to my ears!'
'Let's make music together!
'March to the beat of your own drum!'
These figures of speech all involve music and I don't need to tell you how powerful music can be, but how do you allow music into your life and what effect does it have on your life? Music can be a source of inspiration and energy and a reminder to live in the moment.
I was drawn to music at a young age. I was fortunate enough to go to school where all students in year 5 & 6 (around 10 years of age) had to play an instrument. After a brief trial with the flute, drums, violin, cello and clarinet, I chose the trumpet as it only had three values and was seemingly easier. Through those years I began to read music and feel its presence in my life. As I improved I decided that I wanted to continue and my parents kindly bought me my own trumpet. I continued to play through high school and had an excellent teacher who really inspired me, even suggesting I could go onto study music if I practiced enough and continued to develop. I decided against this as I focused on Science subjects hoping to become a Psychologist or Doctor and upon leaving high school, put my trumpet away to rarely play it again. I really enjoyed the concerts, performances and other things I did with the trumpet, but music wasn't for me. So I thought.
For 5 years, while I studied Psychology, music disappeared from my life, in the sense of creating it. I listened to music and went to clubs and did all the usual things young adults do, but never considered a career in music.
At 23, I discovered I could sing after visiting a singing teacher for a lesson, based on the advice of a clairvoyant who asked me if I had ever wanted to use my voice. She asked straight up "Have you ever wanted to do Radio, singing, acting and that kind of thing? Do it, you will be good at it."
At that time I was into martial arts and was considering travelling to Asia, teaching English and perhaps studying Karate in Japan. Europe and singing where far from where I saw myself. Of course, singing took a hold of my life and suddenly I was thrust back into making music, discovering not only my life's purpose but also my special talent. The one thing I appeared to be naturally good at and with hard work, was able to transition into singing as my full time profession.
The point here is I think music found me again and I am really pleased to have been given another opportunity to express myself through it. The feeling I get when I sing and sing well (not always the case) is exhilarating. The power of the human voice, emoting, expressing and delivering the text and music of some of our most famous musicians is great. To bring music to life is a real gift. Whether you do it professionally or not doesn't matter, it is the expression that is important.
I only realised how powerful a force music has been in my life recently, after realising that I think about it every day. Not having sung on a professional opera stage since 2014, I realised that what I missed most was the creative process of rehearsal. Of playing with a character, a scene and with other people to create something we can all agree on. It is a tremendous gift to be able to sing and play characters for a living but it also comes with great responsibility. Performers have the responsibility to give of themselves fearlessly in a way that allows the audience, no matter how small or large, to feel something. Music making, while satisfying for the performer is also about giving to others and then music really is a gift.
For those who aren't performers though, how can you use music to your advantage? I believe music has an enormous potential in the Personal Development realm. It can be used as an escape but is a tool for development, to enliven our spirit and fill us with the necessary power and resilience we need.
When I was 16, I rowed as a Summer sport. I really liked rowing and although it was not popular in my school, the feeling of floating on water was one I enjoyed. Being in sync with my other boat mates and pulling together to race on the river was fun. I was in the 4th crew in Year 11 (my second final year of school) and we trained that year throughout the winter season. We had a new coach and he was determined to put into place a strategy that would see us achieve better results. He had been successful at other schools and was given the chance with ours. In his training, we were required to do lots of ergometer training.
For those who don't know, an ergo machine is that funny looking Rower at your gym that never gets used as no one really knows how to use it properly. As Rowers, this was where we spent a lot of time creating endurance and stamina and building technique off the water. During this year, I hated them.
Every Monday morning we had to do a 2 minute ergo. Full pace. No stopping. Pumping hard. It was the sort of trial that made you want to throw up if you had eaten before the event. They were not pleasant. Once a month we also had to do a 20 minute ergo. A longer endurance event. Ultimately these scores were also being used to determine who would be in the first crew for the following year. I wanted to be in the 1st crew as going into my final year, there was also every chance I would become the Captain of Rowing, as there were only two of us approaching our final high school year.
One of the 20 minute ergos we had to do was at Rowing Camp. We went offsite for a week and did lots of training. Early runs, sessions on the water, ergos. Lots of ergos. We had been primed that this particular 20 minute ergo would be important. Luckily I was not in the first round of ergo rowers, which gave me 20 minutes to prepare for my slot. I used music to prepare in a way I will never forget.
As it was 1995, iPods and other high-tech gadgets weren't invented yet, but I had a Walkman and my favourite mixed tape. A selection of songs that I knew could help me prepare. So while I watched the first round of rowers on the ergo, as I felt anxiety and butterflies, I listened to my mixed tape. It had Eye of the Tiger, some Chicago and even some classical songs on it from memory. I sat very still and tried to almost meditate. Not moving a muscle, instead pulling my resources together and visualising myself on the rower. I watched the pace of the others and saw the rhythm I would need to maintain in order to achieve a good result. I broke down the 20 minutes in my mind into 5 minute increments. Really only two or three songs. I listened intently allowing at times, what felt like electricity flowing in my veins, to really build up in me. Red Bull hadn't even been invented by then, so this was an all natural feeling.
I can still remember the moment, I jumped on the ergo and got myself comfortable and allowed the feelings to flow. The music I had listened to from my Walkman, was now firmly in the head and with this internal playlist, I set about rowing. Power flowed and my technique was there, I was pulling better and better scores. I couldn't stop myself and after the first two blocks of 5 minutes, although feeling pain, was able to push on. Excitement grew as the other Rowers realised that I was potentially going to get the best score of the day so far. 4 of us rowed at once, so I made sure I kept ahead of the others, powering with each pull of the handle, keeping my cadence up. The music was playing in my head and with an almost excited elation, I spurred myself on. The music was giving me the power to pull and to maintain a constant stroke.
I finished the 20 minutes and virtually fell off the machine, collapsing a little before realising I had pulled the second, almost highest score of the day so far and in the end, maintained this position. It felt wonderful and to top it off, that was the moment the Coach called me in with the other potential 1st crew Rowers. I took my seat in the boat from there on and went on to be the Captain of Rowing as well. That was the moment, I knew music had given me greater potential and allowed me to go beyond myself and what I thought I could do.
So what is the message for you, another music enthusiast reading this post? How can you further incorporate music into your life? Could music allow you to express yourself more fully in some way? Absolutely.
With streaming services like Spotify, we no longer need to spend hours creating mixed tapes, but can put together a nice playlist in 5 minutes. Whether we want to meditate to music, pump ourselves up for the day with 80's pop and contemporary hits, or visit a concert of our favourite artist to receive their inspiration, this is all possible in 2018.
I suggest you use a playlist to help you in your daily routine. Plan the tracks to lead you somewhere. Perhaps starting with slow tempos and then getting faster as your day winds up. Maybe you want to start with a bang. Here are some of my personal classical suggestions.
These pieces I have collected over my life so far and they have meaning. I strengthen their meaning by using them in new contexts, giving them life and allowing the melodies to wash over me, strengthen me and build my confidence. The effect I know is real as it allows me to continue to further my life, gives me inspiration and taps me into the universal. Music is the Universal language and one that we can all enjoy. Its beauty is in the playing though, the singing and the dancing.
Alan Watts says 'You must remember to sing and dance while the music is being played.' This is both metaphorical and actually important. He means it in the context that life is not a journey and destination at all but just an experience. We are simply here to experience. We often get so caught up in the destination that we forget the moment. What will happen after the concert? How will I get home? How will my date end? Instead we need to just be in the music, the moment. Like a good film or concert, we are sucked into the moment and forget our troubles and our lives just being there with the actors and musicians. This is the gift performers give. They allow you into the story if you take yourself there. At this is how music is real. Listen to it, absorb it and allow it to unlock the power in your life, to inspire, to give you hope, to sit in your moment of success or to just be. Wherever you are in the moment.
If you are someone who sees music as background, noise or something less than important in your life, I encourage you to try creating a Playlist for a Purpose and to see what effect and power that music can have on your spirit, on your motivation and on your energy. You might just find it gives you the daily kick you need to strengthen your habits, live in the moment and create a rich and fulfilling life. And row a 20 minute ergo!
How is your evolution going? I hope like me, you sat down and looked at your life and decided what to stop, change or evolve! As we are also a week into the new year, have you stuck to your plans or slipped a day?
Have you made good on your intentions? In this post, I want to discuss an idea that comes up a lot in Personal Development (PD) literature, namely the differences between a goal, a wish, an intention or a dream. These words are used a lot and often overlap, but is there a difference and which is the right word for you to use? Words have power and being a warrior with words in your life is a skill worth mastering.
Let's look firstly at dreams. We are told to dream big and I have often been asked, did you dream of being a singer as a child? My answer is no. I dreamt of being a plastic surgeon! I even had a week of work experience doing such which was inspiring but needless to say, it didn't work out. I never 'dreamed' of becoming a singer, but I feel now, a singer and performer is who I am.
Dreams can be wild and starry, they can be scary and difficult and in PD literature we are encouraged to dream. For many, bring asked to dream or think big, might be the first time in a long time they have done this. We have commitments and pressures and 'life', so taking time out to dream doesn't always seem like a useful idea. But why not? Take a moment for yourself and dare to dream. To create a new world for yourself. What would it look like? Who is in it?
Dreams are important but they cannot be left there. A dream is like a brainstorm. All good.
'Make a wish, before you blow out the candle!', 'You have three wishes!' and 'Your wish is my command' are three phrases we hear a lot throughout childhood from stories, birthdays and in popular media. How often do you really sit down though and wish?
For me, dreams are big picture things, like the whole scene in a movie. Wishes are the desired outcomes and so become more specific. They are beyond the current realm of possibility though. Perhaps they are things we want but we have no idea how they will come to pass.
Many PD authors talk about wishes in terms of again, larger thinking. Not being so blinkered or focused.
Oxford dictionary says a dream is 'a cherished aspiration, ambition or ideal' but also 'an unrealistic or self-deluding fantasy'. The dictionary also points out many definitions for Wish but the one I will focus on is 'a desire or hope for something to happen' implying we need to know the something.
'I wish to get to a new job in 2018.' 'I wish I could lose 5kg to fit into the pants I really like.' 'I wish I could be a better spouse or parent or son/daughter to my parents.'
In these statements a wish is a more concrete thing. The amazing organisation 'The Make a Wish Foundation' in Australia make the wishes of children suffering with terrible, often life threatening conditions and diseases a realty. Meeting cherished sports stars, musicians and connecting with famous people are things some kids really wish for, while others wish for certain experiences that the foundation makes a reality. If you ask any child, what do you wish for, they will think of something. Adults were once children. When did you stop wishing?
Perhaps a little more adult sounding, intentions are those activities we make a commitment to doing. We become accountable to someone. At least to ourselves. We write down our intentions as nice statements, 'I want to make more money in 2018.' Good intention, but where does this leave us?
'He had great intentions' is a phrase often used when people don't succeed at something. He meant well, but just didn't cut it.
Intentions are for me like statements without actions. Perhaps when drilling down on dreams and getting specific about wishes, we can then come to intentions. These are the statements that we want to do something...... But what now. We haven't taken action. The behaviour is defined which is good, but in what way.
This is where goals come in. Actually writing them down, what you are going to do to inact your intentions? Specifically. E.g. Intention - I will you make more money in 2018? E.g. Goal - I will find 10 new clients by June 1 by cold calling 10 people every week. This is specific and measureable and I am sure fits more of the SMART ideals that people talk about.
I have described in my opinion, based on my reading, the differences between all four of these words, but I would encourage you to think further about incorporating ALL of these words and activities into your life. Take the time to dream up new dreams, whether we go further with them or not. Be a kid again and just imagine, brainstorm or conjure up something new. Make wishes from these dreams, things that are within some realm of possibility. Why couldn't you visit Antarctica someday? As long as the wish is not impossible and future focused, why not! Create intentions from some of your best wishes and dreams. I intend to run a marathon in the next 5 years. I feel like a could be an Ironman or deliver a TED talk. It doesn't mean you will, but you will then think about goals. Perhaps you just take one step forward and go and buy running shoes. This is a good start towards an Ironman. Join Toastmasters on your road to TED talks.
Years ago I rode my bicycle a lot. 9000kms in one year in fact and I liked to ride everywhere. Soon people came to me inspired and said, I would like to also start riding but I can't do 100kms in a day like you. I would always respond, 'Do you think I started with 100kms?' No way. I had a dream to be a cyclist and a wish to ride long distances and set about with the intention to ride 100km in a single ride. My goal though when I was riding became, I will just do the first 20km. I knew I had 20km in me, then I would go the next 20 and so on. Over time, I went from short rides of 20km in 1.5 hours, to 5 hours rides, hitting 100km. After a few of these I entered a couple of 100km ride events in Australia and had fun really surprising myself, doing a marathon of cycling. The feeling was great!
I no longer ride as much here in Vienna, perhaps because I achieved my dream without knowing it, but perhaps because dreams, wishes, intentions and goals also change.
So don't worry, if to date, you haven't achieved all your dreams or wishes. Think up new ones. The best part of life is that we are here to experience. I read an interesting book recently on the awakening to a higher consciousness and the author talks about many metaphysical and higher power related concepts. He mentions that before arriving to earth, we are energy, part of the Universe and we come to Earth as a Human Being, simply to experience. To know and experience different sensations and energies that we cannot experience in other dimensions.
Right or not, this is food for thought, so conjure up new dreams, wishes. Creates intentions, some of which you will fulfil, some of which will become, 'well he had good intentions' and set some goals.
The balance of all this work will be that you will have taken some time for yourself to go within and examine what it means to be you. To get to know yourself a bit better and to find out a bit more about what makes your heart sing!
The new year has arrived and for many 2017 is a year they would like to forget. How was it for you?
Many Coaches and Personal Development Experts often recommend using this time of the year to review, set goals and begin 2018 with fresh resolutions. I think a different approach could be more effective. While I am no expert, I am a living example of what I suggest and will be trying this myself during the next few months.
That is, Evolution. What things in your life at this moment, can you tweek and adjust to evolve yourself towards the self you know you 'can' be? Rather than starting a whole series of new activities, what things should you STOP and what should you CONTINUE and EVOLVE?
Our lives are a series of habits, which are based on our behaviours. Let's think of our selves as a finite number of habits. We have filled up our habit storage drive with our behaviours, e.g. Driving skills, our daily routine and how much coffee we drink, cigarettes we smoke, alcohol we consume, the work we do and so on.
Rather than trying to actually stop a particular habit, let's now think about replacing that habit with another one that supports us better and helps us to evolve. So rather than stopping smoking, think about using a cigarette break as a chance for a fresh air break or a time to practice a breathing technique we are interested in. The time devoted to smoking can be used in a different way. The time is the same but the behaviours are different. This behaviour helps us to evolve. So you tell yourself, you are not quitting smoking, but simply replacing it with something else. Suddenly there is no more room for smoking because practicing new breathing techniques takes its place. It all comes down to the choice and decisions we make in specific moments. Do I want the sugar bun or can I have a salad sandwich instead? Even though it's raining I can still ride my bike to work, can't I? We have a choice.
The problem with Resolutions is that they rarely stick beyond a couple of weeks, as habits can take anywhere from 20 to 250 days to really solidify and become regular automatic behaviours. Likewise, telling ourselves to quit a behaviour or stop it entirely is also difficult as our brains focus on this thing, making us sometimes want it more. By replacing the habit with a more effective one we are neither denying ourselves something, but making a better choice in the moment.
I am still a coffee drinker, but I am just choosing to drink Herbal Tea when I feel like a Coffee.
I can still drive to work, but I am just choosing to ride my bike or catch the train to work.
I am still using social media, but I am just choosing not to look at my phone for the first hour of the day.
I still get anxious but I am choosing to use this energy as a sign that I am ready for action.
I still like to watch TV in the evenings, but I am choosing to read a book or find something new and interesting to discover instead.
So use this first week of January, to review yourself. Do a Personal Audit, where you look at what behaviours and habits support you in your life and be honest about what doesn't. Rather than change entirely and see the situation as 'giving up' certain things, think about evolution. That can you swap, what can you tweek and alter that will help you in a more productive and positive way.
Take small steps, one evolution at a time and give yourself positive reinforcement.
It is the small decisions we make, that inform the larger ones, therefore the smaller habits we attend to will inform the larger ones. Last year, after watching a moving address by an US Army General, I decided to really make my bed each day. It has been a very satisfying experience and I came into 2018 with this as a habit. It is something to definitely keep and even if I miss a day, I don't stop, I just look forward to the next day, where I have the chance to do it again and get back on track.
Some of the evolutions I am making for 2018 include:
- Making my bed each day
- Drinking 500ml of water upon rising
- Maintaining walking 10,000 steps a day
- Spending 10 mins a day on my bouncer
- Not looking at my phone first thing in the morning
- Continuing to intermittently fast and only eat between 12 & 7pm
All of these behaviours evolved or began intermittently through 2017 when I spoke to someone, watched or read something inspiring or made the firm decision to do so. I didn't add these all at once, but added them gradually, as part of my evolution as a person. They make me feel good, and perhaps won't make me a million dollars or anything else, but they do help me to be a better version of myself and support the work I do with others. I begin my day in a positive way and make a couple of good early decisions.
So in summary, think about evolution, not resolution. Plan a roll out of activities or new behaviours that support you, help you to be effective, practical and efficient. These small steps will help you succeed. As Earl Nightingale said 'Success is the progressive realisation of a worthy ideal.' Think about your ideal self, and work towards it, one step at a time!
I wish you continued development, evolution, insight and success in 2018.
David Corcoran is a Personal Development Trainer who specialises in Voice and a professional Opera Singer. This Blog contains his regular musings, thoughts and ideas. He is based in Vienna, Austria.