Shift Your Energy

I recently started using a Fitbit for the first time and have become obsessed with how many steps I can take in a day.  It feels good to have a tangible goal to work towards, and theoretically, it doesn’t take much effort to go for a walk around the block or even a few miles (the Fitbit default goal of 10,000 steps is approximately 5 miles or roughly 30 minutes of activity).  However, like many people, I have been working remotely full time since mid-March. The days of back-to-back virtual meetings barely provide time to take a break and recharge.  Combine that with the barrage of information consumed daily about the current state of affairs … the pandemic, politics, climate, civil unrest … it is a daunting, difficult, and stressful time.  I’ve noticed that my energy shifts on a daily basis, depending on the stressors I’m facing and the thoughts I’m having. 

As a change practitioner, I’m hyper-cognizant of my energy and how it translates into how I’m showing up physically and emotionally.  In addition to working in the Organizational Change field, I trained to become an Energy Leadership coach at iPEC (Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching) as I wanted to learn another way to help people on their personal journeys – to help them shift their energy towards positive changes and outcomes.

What is energy?

Energy is defined in multiple ways and will carry a different meaning depending on the individual and situation.   Energy can be characterized in terms of one’s narrative energy (a dynamic quality), intellectual energy (being active), spiritual energy (the energy force flowing through all people), or as a matter of effort (exertion of power, investing time, and energy). 

I want to offer a new way of thinking about energy that I learned through coaching.

There are 2 kinds of energy:  Anabolic and Catabolic.

  • Anabolic describes energy that is constructive, expanding, fueling, healing, and growth-oriented. This energy helps you move forward and achieve positive, long-term, successful results, and is useful in leading others in the same direction.  Using anabolic energy allows you to have a more complete and conscious view of what is going on around you and to more easily come up with solutions and innovations.

  • Catabolic energy, on the other hand, is draining, resisting, and contracting energy. While this energy provides you with an energetic boost to combat what you perceive to be a stressful situation, it is distracting and acts like a blinder through which you only see a limited view of a situation, therefore limiting the choices available to you.  Though it may offer some short-term benefits, when used on a long-term basis, it imparts mental, emotional and physical tolls that are potentially damaging to you and those around you.


Why does this matter?  Our energy, and how we experience life, is determined by our thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and behaviors. Some of these have a catabolic effect on us – they bring our energy down and limit our sense of options. Others have an anabolic effect, meaning they elevate our energy and give us access to a sense of freedom, choice, power, and fulfillment. Each thought we entertain has an energetic consequence. Over time, catabolic energy injures us, while anabolic energy heals or builds us.

Now let’s go deeper.  Another way to think about energy is through a model called the Seven Levels of Energy.  The two lowest levels of energy (Levels 1 and 2) are Catabolic and are associated with the stress and effort you experience in life.   The higher levels of energy (Levels 3-7) are Anabolic and associated with non-judgmental/completely objective thinking.

  adapted from iPEC Energy Leadership

Why does this matter?  We are a mix of different energy levels, rather than one single level.  Different levels of energy show up in different situations, and even different aspects of the same situation can have different energy.  At any given point, your level of energy is some combination of these seven levels. 

Everything starts with a thought.  Each thought we entertain has an energetic consequence.  Over time, catabolic energy injures us, while anabolic energy heals or builds us.  The energy levels help show us the opportunities in front of us.

Ways to channel, shift, and optimize your energy.

  1. Assess your energy. Ask yourself “What am I feeling” – this creates a new level of self-awareness.”  What energy levels have you been experiencing? What energy do you want more of / less of?  Consider what you can do about what you feel.   What level do you want to shift to?
  2. Make an “incomplete” list. What’s draining you?  What is incomplete in your life?  What is a challenge for you right now? This can be anything.  Write it down. 
  3. Set an intention. What is something you really want to do?  An intention can tell you what type of energy you have for a particular goal or task.  Write down 2-3 intentions for this week/this month/this year.  Then create what you want to experience.  Continue to review and reflect on your intention(s), your progress, and how this affects your energy. 
  4. Get a partner. Find someone – a close friend, colleague or companion – who is willing to be an “accountability partner” and help you keep your commitment to your intention(s).
  5. Use your intuition. What are your sensing about what you really want? What is resonating with you?  Tap into your inner wisdom and connect with the best part of who you really are.

We can motivate ourselves into positive actions that lead to extraordinary, lasting results.  This energy model can serve as an anchor in how we show up in our work and life.  As a change practitioner, you can do this with yourself, with your individual clients and/or teams as we continue to navigate these uncertain times with patience and grace.

Authored by: Emily Koft, ACMP NE Board Member

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