How do you spend your energy per diem?

Lately, I realized I’ve been protecting my energy… fiercely (as I like to do things).

It wasn’t a conscious decision, and this wasn’t my end goal. I just realized I’d been feeling frazzled and anxious, and I needed to make some changes.

With some effort, tears and strong will, these have afforded me some energy – a precious resource for many of us.

Here’s the thing: We wake up each day with a finite amount of energy. You won’t get any more. You have to do the best you can with what you’ve got that day: your energy per diem, if you will (and you will). Your daily allotment will vary, depending on:

  • The amount of sleep you’ve had
  • Your overall diet
  • Alcohol consumption the night before
  • Medications
  • Illness

And there are many more not listed. Fill in your blanks appropriately – ain’t my job. As we go through the day, we spend energy like currency. We use some on exercise, some to get the kids up and out of bed, some to remember what we need to bring to work, some to prepare a presentation. (It’s bothering me that there’s no units for this kind of energy. I don’t think we’re working in Joules here. NERD ALERT.) Hell, some days it takes half our energy per diem just to get out of bed and out the door into the public eye. I get it. I’ve been there.

Just like a monetary budget, there are things we have to spend our energy on: work, family, basic needs. Like bills. And then there are the mindless energy drains we choose to throw energy at. I’m sure you can name at least a few:

  • Social media
  • Mindless web browsing
  • Gossip
  • Harboring shitty feelings

Sometimes we use the first two to get our minds off things and escape the real world. We say we “just want to shut our brains off.” But do you know what I realized the other day? There were times I was doing this, and my kids were playing around me when we all got home for the day. One would ask me to do something for him, and I would get annoyed – not at the request itself, but because I was being interrupted.

From WHAT, exactly? Ads for more STUFF? Brooke Wells squatting? Is any of that worth my energy more than my kids?


That was an eye-opening realization for me – and hard to admit, honestly. I complain all the time about not getting to spend more time with my kids, and here I am with my head in my phone half the time. And part of it is they’re getting a little more self-sufficient, so they don’t need me as much. But does that still warrant my precious energy budget going toward mindless scrolling or meaningless conversations? I could be playing with them, cleaning something or here’s a thought: just enjoying the moment.

Protect your energy fiercely

Without getting on a patriotic streak, I’ll just say that we are lucky to live somewhere we can choose how we spend our daily energy. It may not feel like that – we may feel like we HAVE to spend it on a job or HAVE to spend it commuting or HAVE to talk to people, including friends, who text us. But if you’re saying “I have to” instead of “I GET to,” how much do you really enjoy these activities anyway?

And I’d like to push one step further. No one is forcing you to stay at a job you don’t like, or to make a drive you don’t want to. Or to talk to someone when your per diem is low that day. Easier said than done, I know. But start looking at things that fit within your limited budget. What would free it up? What would be a better bang for your buck?

For many of us, the time we get to spend with loved ones is at the end of the day. When we’ve had 8+ hours of energy vampires sucking our per diem away. We have little left to spend on those we hold closest to us. Fight for your energy. Say NO to things that don’t make you say “Hell, yeah!” People will get over it, I promise. Say NO so you CAN say yes. (Shut up. Yes, I love her blog).

And a thank you (GUYS. The gratitude thing works)

Just like Southwest Airlines, I realize you have many options when you fly for who you spend your energy on. So to those of you who spend energy on me, I thank you. Because I know you have a limited energy per diem. And some days, you may have spent half of it before you decided to share some of your day with me. So when you do, know that I’m grateful. Even if I tell you no. Even if I choose my kids or my husband or MYSELF that day instead of you.

I feel like this should end with namaste, or some existential shit. But in the spirit of Friday, I’ll leave you with, “FIGHT. For your right. To paaaaaaartaaaaay!” (You know, however you want. It’s your per diem.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *