I just spent three days at an event with more than 400 other soulful business people who want to make a real impact in the world with their message. It was a-m-a-z-i-n-g!
And… it was intense. Overwhelming. Beautiful. In some ways, it was too much for me.
We had 90-minute modules that were jam-packed with information I wanted. We shared stories with our neighbors and shared our insights on breaks. We had assignments over lunch with colleagues and homework at the end of the (very late) evening. Seriously, there was so much goodness to take in and relish.
And yet, by dinnertime on day two, I was absolutely full. Saturated. I felt myself going numb. I even noticed myself losing confidence, wondering if I was cut out for this because everyone else seemed so thrilled to do more and more and more. We still had a whole module left after dinner that evening and, although I really wanted this information and the connection with these beautiful souls, I was dreading this evening session.
Then I remembered – I'm an introvert.
And I hadn't given myself the time to refill my core energy vessel.
As soon as I realized this, I knew there was nothing else to do but go away and get myself filled up. I could push through (goodness knows I know how to push through – I'm a master of persistence on these kinds of things) but it would only make things worse. And truthfully, I wouldn't be showing up in my own greatness in this kind of shape.
So I quietly left the conference room and took the elevator to my room.
I peeled off my fancy clothes and slid into a pair of crop pants, a t-shirt and flip flops. I jumped into my rented Chrysler and drove 50 minutes to the nearest beach. My soul lifted with every mile.
Except for a sandpiper and its babies and a thousand shells dancing in the shallow waves across the sand, I was alone. It was sunset. My toes curled into the wet sand and I walked and sat and breathed in the salt air until I thought I'd pass out from bliss.
I spent about 30 minutes at the beach sitting and walking and picking up sea shells to bring home to my daughters, then I drove the 50 minutes back to my hotel.
If you could measure my insides, you would see that in those 30 minutes I went from a cracking dry energy vessel to a glistening vase of crystal clear energetic fuel.
I spent the next day absolutely giddy with engagement and focus.
I enjoyed insights, beautiful conversations and made connections with ease. All day I kept thinking to myself, “I am so happy I listened to and honored my energetic needs!”
I write this to you with the hope that you will do the same, next time your insides are calling to you to replenish your energetic vessel.
Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert – or you don't identify with those terms at all, your energy is the foundation of your beautiful work in the world.
Please listen inside and honor what you need to keep your energetic vessel shiny full. For you it might mean a night of dancing and easy conversation after a day of intense listening and thinking. We've each got our own ways of filling back up. The key is that you listen to what you need to care for your energy and you respond accordingly, no matter what.
If you're like me, you might be tempted to feel guilty about skipping out on part of the training or missing the evening networking event. But here's what I know from my experience this past week (and the many other times I've made a contrarian decision that honored my personal energy needs):
You will get way more out of the whole experience if you take care of your energy.
When I got back to my training conference, I was more engaged and focused than I would have ever imagined. I met exactly the right people that evening, began conversations that are still going on even now that I'm back home and I experienced insights and breakthroughs I could not imagine the day before when I was too saturated to think straight.
This experience was so powerful for me. I want to empower you to manage your own energy at your next event.
Here are four simple steps to help you take really good care of your own energy:
1. Inquire Within Ahead of Time to Get a Baseline. Before you even head out to the event, begin noticing how your energy system works. What types of activities fill you up energetically – and what types tend to drain your energy. Important to note: just because something doesn't fill you up, doesn't mean you don't love it. I love being with people, dancing, deep conversation. My life is far more exciting and beautiful when I've got a bunch of those things going on. However, these activities do not fill me up. I fill up when I am by myself (a classic introvert characteristic). What about you? What activities give you energy and what activities use up energy that you need to replenish in other ways? Make a list and bring it with you to your event for reference.
2. Check In As You Go. As you go about your engagement at the event, quietly check in with yourself. Two ways you can check in on energy are:
- Your self-talk: if you notice yourself thinking things like, “Oh, wow – I am getting so tired.” or “Jeez, this is such great stuff! Why am I having so much trouble taking it all in?”, then you may need a little energy fill-up break.
- Your physical energy: If you notice you are struggling to keep your back straight, your eyes are drying out or you are slouching in your chair, it's time for an energy fill-up.
3. Honor Your Energetic State with Appropriate Action. This one is simple, though sometimes hard to get ourselves to do. When you notice that your energy is depleting and you cannot re-engage with the content or the people in a way that feels fabulous to you, do whatever it takes to replenish. Maybe this means a brisk walk with someone else that has also mentioned being depleted or over-saturated (you might shock them with your idea to leave the event, but they will thank you later if they join you!). Or, like me with the beach, you might want to leap into the car and give yourself the gift of your most replenishing place on earth in complete solitude. Really, just do exactly what is necessary to rehydrate that vessel of yours with beautiful, vibrant energy.
4. Step Back In with Gratitude and Focus. I will admit that I can get sidetracked by the bliss of a getaway. Even at an event as truly excellent as the one I just attended, the call of an extended vacation at the beach was enticing. But I was fully committed to using this replenishment to serve my greater goal of making the most of my training and connecting at this conference. I knew there was so much more for me to take in and I had lovely human beings to get to know and deepen my relationship with. I didn't want to miss out on that. Get back to your event with gratitude for your commitment to self-care and the newfound levity and focus you will carry with you. Make the most of the rest of your time there. And smile kindly at others who may not have thought to give themselves the break they needed. Just maybe you can provide a moment of peace for them, carried back from your own lovingkindness break.
I hope this simple four-part plan serves you with peace and focus at your next event. I know that writing it out for myself will allow me to use it even earlier next time, so I'm grateful for that. Thank you for being here to inspire this writing.
Now, I'd love to know from you – do you have special ways that you care for and manage your energy at events? I'd sure love to add more ideas to my own toolkit, as I'm sure would others here. Please share in the comments.
Lovely, Michelle. I need quiet time to absorb new information and think how it fits into the big pattern of my life, so I can relate! I have 4 conferences coming up and a bunch of business travel, so this post came at the exact right time for me <3 Thank you!
First, I’m so sorry for my tardy approval of your comment and reply. I didn’t realize that comments were handled differently on this new website of mine so I didn’t see yours. I’m so happy to hear from you, Sandi! Wow – 4 conferences is a lot. I love that these ideas will serve you just in time 🙂
These are great pointers! It is so important to protect your energy always but at an event like this it’s a necessity to get and give out of it the most you can. I always look to the 4 elements for support by going outside ~ getting fresh air and energy!
Hi, Laura. Please see my apology in Sandi’s note above, as it applies to you, too – I’m sorry for my delay in responding! So true – outside fresh air really is magic in many ways. I’d like to add that to my list of strategies right now.
Brilliant post. As a Get More Energy Strategist, I whole-heartedly agree with your suggestions. Managing our energy is one of the greatest things we can do to live a great life.I also suggest taking care of your body as well. At events, we can get dehydrated, eat poorly and eat quickly. Watching what we and preparing by bringing high energy foods helps.
Oh, the food thing is so right on, Laurie. Thank you for bringing that up. I actually did bring a blender for smoothies and my raw protein powder but it took me a few days to pull it together enough to get the greens and berries to make them (not sure why it took so long now, looking back – but it did). I am certain that my energy would have been better with more energy rich foods in the mix. Plus, I tend to drink too much coffee (and not enough water) when I’m not getting enough space and downtime. Great addition to the energy management list! I’m so happy to have your Energy Strategist expertise here. Thank you! (P.S. So sorry for my delayed response – new blog technical confusion on my end. I hope you’ll come back again. I promise to be a better conversationalist next time!)
I like to connect with people at events, but I too am an introvert. I’ll go up to my hotel room during breaks just to have some silence. I’ll also enjoy great conversations at lunch or dinner, but I pay close attention to whether I need some quiet time before heading back into the seminar.
I really appreciate you sharing this. It gives people permission to do what they need to do rather than feel guilty for not being able to “stick it out”.
Thank you, Alyssa. I sometimes steal off to my room during breaks for silence, too. I love knowing that I’m not the only one doing that. I really appreciate you sharing your introvert-energy-care strategies. We introverts can really serve each other by sharing this stuff because so much of what we hear out there about networking and events is from an extrovert perspective. I’m grateful you took the time to engage here – thank you.
(And please forgive my delayed response to your comment. Technical confusion on my new blog. I hope you’ll stop by again. I’ll reply sooner, I promise 🙂 )
Oh, thank you for this!
I feel the same way at conferences that last more than one day. I start feeling glassy-eyed, fatigued and shut down. And while I know I’m not really able to take in any more, I feel guilty if I leave the room to rest or play or do anything but take in more information. Or stimulation.
Next time, I’ll let myself get away and reconnect. Thanks!
Yay, Nancy! Do it. It really was the best decision I made at that event. I was so refreshed and ready to soak up more goodness after I took the break. I usually feel that same guilt, too – but now I’m absolutely certain the payoff is worth that twinge of initial guilt. In fact, now I think I’d feel more guilty being half-present when I know exactly what I need to do to re-energize.
(So sorry for my delayed response to your comment, Nancy. I now know how to use my new blog comment function. Let’s converse some more, okay? I’ll reply sooner next time 🙂 )
Great insights. It is so frustrating to not get enough out of events like this because you didn’t pay attention to your own energy needs. Like you – I tend to become oversaturated and over-stimulated and then can’t take in anymore. Thanks for the empowerment to take care of me so that I can then fully engage.
Thank you, Carol. It is good for me to know I’m not alone in that over-saturated, over-stimulated feeling – even after a really good event. I appreciate you sharing.
This is brilliant Michelle! I focus a lot on helping the event hosts, but these techniques for event attendees are just as valuable!
I’m so impressed that you took the time out that you needed and listened to your body. I too am introverted, but I think I still need to work more on refilling my energy.
Thanks so much for sharing!
Hello, Sarada! I’m curious, do you talk with event hosts about managing their own energy? Having never held a large event myself, I hadn’t thought about it, but I can only imagine the need for energy management when you are the host of something filled with lots of people. What a gift it would be to have someone who is helping with the event also remind you as the host of ways to keep your own energy in good balance.