Why do some people live deeply fulfilling lives continually creating beautiful things and others flail while never reaching their potential?

This question has haunted me for over a decade. There is a difference between these two groups, but it’s hard to put a finger on. Masses of people are living chronically overwhelmed today. They are just barely surviving with their heads above water, but they don’t seem to know why they are doing any of it. Others are underwhelmed. They are bored, just waiting for purpose, meaning, resources and relationships to magically drop in their lap as they wait for “someday” to arrive.

Others are living whelmed. Their life has purpose and meaning, and they continue to create beautiful things as they bring life to those around them. I’ve experienced overwhelming, underwhelming and whelming seasons, and I know the frustration of not living up to your potential.      

I believe the key to living a purposeful whelmed life is living proactively instead of reactively. To do this you must learn who you are and what you’re uniquely designed for. Then you must create a path to sustain that journey. Every. Single. Week. 

There is one paradigm shift that allows us to live our days here on earth proactively; the shift from managing your time to investing your energy. It is counterintuitive, but it is a gamechanger. Instead of thinking about how you are spending your time begin thinking about where you are putting your best energy. Energy can be hard to quantify, but if you want to live and lead healthy for the long haul you have to understand it.

Think about your energy like a bucket. Some activities drain you, some refill you and others deeply fulfill you. When you’re doing them your time disappears because they are so fulfilling (I call this “The divine breeze”). Ask a simple question about any activity you are doing; is it draining, refilling or fulfilling? Many leaders suffering from overwhelm and heading toward burnout are spending too much time in the areas that drain them, not investing in what refills them and unaware of the areas that fulfill them. Leaders with leaky buckets wonder where the days and years went. 

At Stay Forth Designs we invite hungry leaders on the journey of shifting your thinking from a time management mindset to an energy investment mindset. Time management becomes reactive, but energy investment is proactive. Healthy leaders choose where they will put their best energy by designing their life ahead of time, not seeing what life throws at them. Reactive living leads to pressure which creates bad decisions. Proactive living leads to healthy decisions that create momentum and leads to more good decisions. 

I don’t like the word balance. It’s a unicorn. Days and seasons aren’t actually balanced, and you will feel shame and guilt trying to find this elusive balance. Instead, aim for rhythm. Bruce B. Miller said this on an episode of our Right Side up Leadership Podcast; “Balance doesn’t work. It’s not as good of a paradigm as rhythm for a well lived life. Balance is more static, rhythm is more dynamic” So well said!

Our Stay Forth Designs team has coached leaders, consulted with teams and shared principles of right side up leaders across the country. We’ve seen leaders focus their task list and reclaim their weekend, families find life-giving rhythms and teams get back into alignment. We love being part of this journey!