Several years ago, when I was working in the schools, I stopped by a friend’s classroom at the end of the day to catch up. As we were chatting, he was moving around the room cleaning up. At one point, he stopped, picked up a spoon and said, “This is an energy waster. Out it goes.” and dropped it in the trash. I about fell over. It was a real spoon. Why would he throw it away? And what was an energy waster??
I asked. He answered. “An energy waster is that thing that every time you see it you think, ‘I need to do something about that’, but you never do. So it just uses your mental and emotional energy over and over again.” Hmmm. Quite a concept.
Can you think of things in your life that continue to use your energy with no payoff? For my friend, he had been looking at that spoon for weeks, always thinking that he needed to return it to it’s rightful location – which was not his classroom. And after all that time, he decided that spoon wasn’t worth the energy he was spending thinking about it OR the energy it would take to return it and so into the trash it went.
This concept has revolutionized my life. There is great freedom to be found when you can see something as a waste of energy and then eliminate it. That paintbrush that’s been sitting on the counter for weeks. The one screw that needs to be put away. The shirt that just needs the button sewed on. The broken vase that actually won’t be easy to fix. The email flooding your inbox. When the light bulb goes off and you can call a spade a spade, you are able to commit to get it done! Whatever it might be. #maybeaspoon
It’s definitely hard for me sometimes, don’t be fooled. I grew up with a deeply bred value of not wasting anything. So throwing away something that could actually be repaired or repurposed feels wasteful. The irony is that in trying NOT to be wasteful, I’ve been wasting MY OWN ENERGY. Sheesh! Time to end the cycle, don’t you think?
In the meantime, I have come to accept that some things really are trash. So, out they go!! Hurray!! And allowed others to be donated to someone who does want to spend the energy doing the refurbish. The best part is that all the keepers – those little things that sit out waiting to be put away or the tasks that just need a little finishing – get done a lot faster now. Energy efficiency at its finest.
I was able to share the energy waster concept with a client recently. She had a broken picture frame to be returned to the store. It had been sitting on her table for weeks. And every time she saw it she felt stressed, annoyed and ashamed. “I really need to exchange that. What a pain. I should have returned it weeks ago.” What a waste of good energy!
For her, this was equally freeing. In fact, she immediately announced, “I don’t need to hear anything else today. This is a game changer!” I could see the wheels turning as she thought about all the things in her life that were energy wasters. Her excitement to eliminate unnecessary output was contagious. Score!
Game changer indeed. Each time I recognize those little zappers, I’m thankful for the wisdom of my friend. 🙂
What are the energy wasting spoons in your life? What other bits of wisdom have you been given that have been your game changers?