9 Lifestyle Energy Drainers


One month last year, our electric bill came back very high.  My secretary commented, “You are paying too high a price!”  She suggested calling an electrician to come and check our connections to assure that no one was “stealing” energy from our house.

It works the same way in our life.  We end up paying too high a price because of lifestyle drainers that steal energy from our lives.  Living well requires that a leader periodically evaluates his connections.  I have identified at least nine lifestyle energy drainers in my own life.

1. Over commitment.  Sometimes my inability to say “No!” causes me to over commit.  I like challenges, finding problems and thinking strategically about how to resolve them.  Here is what I have learned: “I am not indispensable and not every problem in the world is mine to solve.”  Whew!  Feels good to say that.  When I say “Yes” to one thing, it actually means I am saying “No” to something else.   I don’t have unlimited capacity.

2. Under commitment.  Going to this opposite extreme of the first energy drainer only produces boredom.  When I have no external, compelling purpose or mission for my life that is bigger than myself, there is nothing exciting that gets me out of bed in the morning.

3. Clutter.  I am actually enjoying selling most of my stuff as we prepare for another international move.  It is freeing to get rid of clutter and begin to simplify life.  When I was part of the national team in our organization, I found a quote that I kept on my desk to remind me of this energy drainer; it said “Leaders need a clear mind, a clear desk and a clear inbox.” Before that time, I could feel my energy drained away with the hundreds of unanswered emails in my inbox.  I read Allen’s book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity, and decided to make changes to end each day with zero emails in my inbox.

4. Debt.  My wife and I have always been on the same page in this area.  With the exception of two times in our married life of 26 years, we have been debt free.  The times we carried debt stole energy and added stress to our lives.  The reasons we went into debt were definitely joyous events, and we always had an intentional plan to pay it off.  But, what if we had saved ahead of time and paid cash up front?  Dave Ramsey has excellent advice in this area.

5. Workaholism.  At times in my life, I have ignored the command for a Sabbath rest, which led to burnout in my emotional and spiritual life as well as my marriage.  Richard Swenson in his book, Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives, offers this simple formula:

6. Not attending to home/marriage issues.  Bobby Clinton identifies failure to address critical family/home issues as a common race ender for many leaders.  A good marriage requires effort.  When I have not put in the hard work and effort into my marriage, the relationship deteriorates.  Duh!  Jay Lorenzen recently had a great post on Friend-Lover – the meaning of marriage that challenged me in this area.

7. Avoiding difficult conversations.  I don’t like conflict.  I have learned, however that the pain and emotional drain of unresolved conflicts is far greater than the discomfort of having the difficult conversation.

8. Lack of exercise.  Six years ago I stopped exercising.  It took only months for stress to turn into migraines, and recurring migraines to turn into a hospital visit within two years.  After that visit, I began exercising again.  The last four years, I have more consistently enjoyed greater health and energy levels.

9. Neglect of spiritual and moral issues.  I am designed to be in a right relationship with God, living out and obeying His commands.  Times when I have allowed unconfessed sin to linger in my life have been times when my life and energy is drained.    King David identified this energy drainer thousands of years earlier in Psalm 32:1-5:

Blessed is the one 
   whose transgressions are forgiven, 
   whose sins are covered. 
Blessed is the one 
   whose sin the LORD does not count against them 
   and in whose spirit is no deceit.

When I kept silent, 
   my bones wasted away 
   through my groaning all day long. 
For day and night 
   your hand was heavy on me; 
my strength was sapped 
   as in the heat of summer.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you 
   and did not cover up my iniquity. 
I said, “I will confess 
   my transgressions to the LORD.” 
And you forgave 
   the guilt of my sin.

Which one of these lifestyle energy drainers steals the most energy from your life?  What else would you add to the list?

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About Steve Morgan

I work in Global Leadership Development with Cru with my wife, Terry. We have been married 30 years and have 4 grown children. We have a Masters in Global Leadership together through Azusa Pacific University. I generally write about 5 “L’s: Living Well, Loving Deeply, Learning Continuously, Leading Courageously and Leaving a Legacy. I occasionally write about Laughing Loudly. Subscribe on the right side to receive an email whenever there is a new post. I invite you to leave your comments so we can dialogue on the various topics and learn from each other. If you are new to the site, you might start with looking at some of the top posts or doing a search on the right side bar for one of the 5 “L’s” that interest you. Or you can view the blog archives for topics. Photo Credit: sarahjoellephotography.com
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16 Responses to 9 Lifestyle Energy Drainers

  1. terry morgan says:

    Great job on the blog! Thanks for watching out for me against the “energy-robbers” also. One other idea came to mind and that is when I take on responsibility without authority… this wears me out quickly… great thoughts! PS How is your energy level today?

  2. John says:

    Great Blog Chief!!

  3. Laura Todd says:

    Interesting. On many levels…I can relate to almost every area mentioned…unfortunately….and feel pretty drained….thanks for your thoughts…

  4. Doug says:

    Good stuff, Steve! Thanks for making these energy drainers available to all of us in cyberspace.

  5. Gordana says:

    Great points – a life time of implementation 🙂

  6. Pingback: Aaron Powers » Family First

    • Steve Morgan says:

      Thanks Aaron for reading the blog, and putting the recommendation on your blog! Some things I only learn the hard way. Fortunately we both have strong, wonderful wives who will speak grace and truth to us. Great job on your post also.

  7. Pingback: Tips for Springing Forward | Leader Impact

  8. Pingback: New Years Resolutions and Myers-Briggs Types | Leader Impact

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