Donna Strickland Blog

Energy Drains

In order to shift your energy from activities that drain you, to self-nurturing activities that energize you and reflect your priorities as a leader…you first need to understand where your time goes. Every action you take uses energy, and every action you don’t take use energy. Identifying energy drains means seeing both where you do things that do not serve you and where you do not do the things that you most need to do.

Which of these are you “caught” in?

Running on Adrenaline:

  • Rushing from one task to another
  • Living with the constant hum of anxiety–the chronic feeling that there is something you should be doing
  • Constantly checking voice mail or email
  • Having a special “Pet Peeve” or “Soap Box” that occupies a lot of your mental space 


  • Stressful days leading to weary nights
  • Disorganized workplace
  • Lack of appropriate equipment
  • Tedious uncreative work
  • Inability to delegate, let go
  • Information overload
  • Unchallenged bad behavior in others
  • Underdeveloped technical skills
  • Unaddressed conflict or confrontation

Body, Mind, Spirit

  • Not enough sleep
  • Not enough exercise
  • Unmet emotional needs
  • Lack of stimulating personal interests
  • Absence of a  spiritual practice
  • Unread books
  • Untended health concerns
  • Absence of loving relationships

Other Drains?

  • ____________________________

Action Planning 

First:  Increase your awareness and discomfort:

  1. How do you feed and nourish your energy drains?
  2. How much time and effort of your day at NASA is expended on “drains”?
  3. How has it served you?
  4. Imagine yourself without that drain: What’s different for you?
  5. How do you keep the “pet peeve/energy drain” from findings its way home?
  6. How willing are you to set it free? To be free?
  7. What would you be doing in your work/life instead?

What are your strategies for living well?

  • Change your language   (Overwhelmed, Pitiful, I can’t take it, Not enough time)
  • Be purposeful in Conversations: Choose the message you want to convey.
  • Are you asking for something? Are you offering something?
  • Choose your words so you can get what you want. Know your own purpose or intention.
  • Making declarations of NO. Too many yes’s lead to overwhelm.
  • Re-align your priorities.
  • Identify and eliminate energy drains.
  • Celebrate your successes.
  • Use Humor to Lighten Up, Let Go and Change Your Mind
  • Begin with 5 minutes/day of spiritual practice that works for you.
  • Slow with driving, talking, eating, and answering.
  • Shut the office door
  • Take a warm bath
  • Check your voice mail/email only at appointed times
  • Do not schedule appointments back to back
  • Stop juggling so many tasks. Do complete work.
  • Put signs up to remind yourself of “Extreme Self Care”
  • Manage your hungers for :  Power and Control, Importance and Affirmation, Having Answers
  • Anchor Yourself
  • Distinguish Role from Self
  • Keep Confidants, and Don’t confuse them with allies
  • Seek Sanctuary
  • The Form Doesn’t Matter: Let yourself imagine a host of possibilities for rekindling your vitality and openness and that give your life meaning.
  • Sacred Heart–means that you may feel tortured and betrayed, powerless and hopeless, and yet stay open. It’s the capacity to encompass the entire range of your human experience without hardening or closing yourself. It means that even in the midst of disappointment and defeat, you remain connected to people and to the sources of your most profound purposes.

Your Personalized Action Plan:

  • What are some strategies for changing Your Mind, Changing Your Life and Getting Free?
  • What one thing could you do that would make the biggest overall difference in the quality of your life? This would be an example of Practicing Extreme Self Care.
  • List your Energy Drains and what you plan to do about them.
  • What one example of “extreme self care” could you practice in the workplace that would benefit you?
  • What “Difficult Conversation” do you need to have?

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