When I started out on the road many many years ago, I had seemingly unlimited energy and in fact, was nicknamed the Energizer Bunny because I just kept going and going and going.
Energy was my superpower and I found people around me on the road were attracted to it, motivated by it, and depended on it. Energy was the most common word used to describe me. And between us girls, I loved it and thrived on it.
What I didn’t realize is energy is a limited resource and will eventually run out. I knew it was a limited resource in the world at large, but not with me personally. I didn’t believe this universal truth until it finally caught up with yours truly.
If you’ve not heard my full story, you can find it way back in episode #2 of the Elite Road Warrior podcast, read it on the About Page on the website, or the chapter in the Elite Road Warrior book called, My Story.
But the highlights or more aptly put, the lowlights were the sad reality I treated my high-performance car (aka my body) as a 1980 beat-up work Toyota Camry putting in cheap fuel, giving little to no maintenance, quick and inexpensive repairs just to get me back on the road. My RPMs were in red and my gas tank was on fumes, always. I claimed it was only a season, but it was turning out to be my only season.
Now, the irony is the outside of my car looked immaculate. Always spotless and waxed with the engine revving to impress others. The inside even looked pristine.
Just don’t open that hood and see that neglected Energy Engine.
I would steal night hours to extend my day hours and no one would argue with me due to one inarguable word: RESULTS. I would brag about what little sleep I “supposedly needed” and just pointed to my results. I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted and as much as I wanted.
Again, who would argue due to my unlimited energy and my impressive results? But then it happened. I went around the proverbial curve marked 30 and I was doing my usual 70 and hit the wall and didn’t recover this time. I didn’t bounce off the wall like I normally did. I went through the wall then just sputtered out with a ton of damage.
The engine shut down and eventually, every part of me did as well. The Energizer Bunny was officially off the road.
I had burned out so hard it affected every part of my life and bad. I needed months and months to recover and it was brutal and hard on everyone, especially my family. I was forced to shut down due to business travel burnout in the worst way.
And here’s the Lesson Learned: The Energizer Bunny uses rechargeable batteries which is my new M.O. (means of operation) and has made all the difference on the road.
Let me ask you a question I ask road warriors all of the time. What is more important on the road: Time or Energy?
Many answer time but it’s actually not accurate. Why? If you had time but no energy, how much do you actually get done? Slim to none. Think about the evening time on the road when you’re with your Laptop Lover over dinner, then you take her up for a nightcap. You have the time but how’s your energy? And how much do you actually get done or should I ask what is the quality and the results from your energy-less time? When you finally make it home from a business trip absolutely exhausted and you have the entire weekend to do whatever with your time, how much do you get done with little to no energy? Exactly.
But what if you have energy and limited time, how much can you get done? A surprising amount. Why? You had the energy. Energy is everything on the road. Energy allows you to perform at an elite level on the road every single time. To do your best work and feel proud of what you’ve accomplished.
But where you draw your energy from is all the difference in long-term success on the road or burning out like I did.
Elite Road Warrior Group runs on the premise of Three Focus Areas:
- Home Life
Most business travelers too often sacrifice their health and/or their home life for the sake of work. They burn through all their energy on the road with the grind of business travel then cheat their health and their home life. I see it ALL the time.
An occasional weekend becomes every weekend, every month, and every quarter then year.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
We also live our life on the road with our habits or what I call our Road Routine. This is “our unique way of traveling” that becomes hard-wired in us. Want some proof?
Think back to the last time you traveled with someone else for work. From what they bring with them to how they eat and drink, what they listen to, how and when they work, and on and on and on.
Traveling with someone else for work often exhausts me because I realize just how different my Road Routine is than other people’s and often I find myself dumbing down my Road Routine to accommodate the other person.
The two critical factors combined are what create the potential for your road superpower: your energy and your habits.
Did you catch the word “potential?” I want to help you combine both your energy and your habits.
A habit is: a behavior that is repeated enough times to become automatic, and wow do we have those on the road where we’re just on autopilot. (All pun-intended with the autopilot reference)
But have you ever thought if your habits are bringing you the results you ultimately want on the road? I’ve learned from decades of traveling the one game-changer that affects absolutely everything I do on the road is my energy.
It’s so important to me that I was willingly and unknowingly stealing energy from my own body to fabricate it so I could succeed on the road.
Once I crashed and re-evaluated everything about my life, I had to learn the routines that would not only bring back my energy but would be sustainable energy for the long haul. Did you catch that? Sustainable energy and from the right sources.
They became a framework that I literally needed to learn how to take them on the road and have now become known as Energy Habits.
Why? Because if my energy level is the most important resource for me on the road, I need to find a way to engrain energy so deeply into my Road Routine, they’re done automatically with the sole purpose of providing me sustainable energy to allow me to get the results on what I want and need on a consistent basis.
There was a lot there on that last sentence so if you zoned out, here me out on this key concept:
If my energy level is the most important resource for me on the road, I need to find a way to engrain my energy so deeply into my Road Routine, they’re done automatically with the sole purpose of providing me sustainable energy to allow me to get the results I want and need on a consistent basis.
Consistent results are what both you and your company want from you as a road warrior.
This leads us into the official Elite Road Warrior definition of an Energy Habit:
Energy Habit – a sustainable, repeated behavior that brings energy designed to produce desired results
That’s what I want on every single business trip – a sustainable, repeated behavior that brings energy designed to produce desired results.
Next, I needed to figure out what the energy habits were that I want and need to repeat within the three focus areas of Elite Road Warrior: work/health/home life that I will bring with me on the road and I want to produce results.
This led to the six energy habits framework.
Three energy habits are physical and three energy habits are mental. Let me touch on them briefly:
Three Physical Energy Habits:
Three Mental Energy Habits:
If you follow Elite Road Warrior, you’ve heard this framework. But did you understand the psychology behind habits that produce energy?
This is your superpower on the road.
All six energy habits allow me to produce in the three areas that matter to me: my work, but also my health and my home life. Notice, it’s intentional to have these three focus areas weaved into my Road Routine.
Why You Must Implement Energy Habits on the Road
1. Your energy is not a guaranteed resource and must be recharged – I learned this the hard way so learn from me and recharge your energy on the road.
2. Your energy must be channeled into more than just your work – don’t be “that guy” or “that girl” that loses their health and home life for their career.
3. Your best way to create long-term results is leveraging the Six Energy Habits Framework – Elite Road Warrior has done the work for you so all you need to do is work the system.
To this point we’ve learned the following:
- Energy is more important than time
- The definition of an energy habit
- Why you must implement energy habits on the road
Let’s revisit our definition of an Energy Habit – a sustainable, repeated behavior that brings energy designed to produce desired results.
So let’s lean on an expert to help us develop our road habits. James Clear wrote one of my favorite books of all of last year called Atomic Habits. The 2nd half of this article is credited to his work with my job of translating it to the road. If you’ve not read or listened to his book, your first action item is getting it immediately. A game-changer book for any road warrior.
I love how James Clear frames a habit.
“Each habit is like a suggestion: ‘this is who I am.’ Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs but as the notes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.”
The most practical way to change who you are is to change what you do.
1. Decide the type of person you want to be
2. Prove it to yourself with small wins
For example, I want to be an elite road warrior, therefore I need to do behaviors of an elite road warrior.
And this is where the Six Energy Habits Framework comes into the picture. I want sustainable, repeated behaviors that bring energy designed to produce desired results in each of the six energy habits.
I want to be a road warrior who:
- Moves consistently
- Fuels properly
- Rests strategically
- Performs optimally
- Develops personally and professionally
- Connects thoughtfully and creatively
So, according to Atomic Habits, each small decision, or habit, is a vote towards being an elite road warrior or a vote towards being an existing road warrior. If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system and this is why we have Energy Habits and the Six Energy Habits Framework to leverage this system to become the best version of you.
James Clear says this:
“All BIG things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision. But as that decision is repeated a habit sprouts and grows stronger. Roots entrench themselves and branches grow. The task of breaking a bad habit is like uprooting a powerful oak within us. And the task of building a good habit is like cultivating a delicate flower one day at a time.”
Time magnifies the margin between success and failure. It will multiply whatever you feed it. Good habits make time your ally. Bad habits make time your enemy. And too many a road warrior has some powerful oak size bad habits that don’t serve us or who we are and ultimately who we want to be.
For the seasoned road warrior, they can feel the Travel 20 or in my case the Entitled 40 (aka the weight we’ve gained from the road). We feel the exhaustion of the road or the slow decay of our relationships with those back home we love.
So, this is a perfect time to re-evaluate if our habits are serving us.
Let’s take a moment to get basic and granular in how a habit is even developed.
The process of building a habit can be divided into four simple steps:
- Cue. A piece of information that suggests there’s a reward to be found, like the smell of a cookie or a dark room waiting to light up.
- Craving. The motivation to change something to get the reward, like tasting the delicious cookie or being able to see.
- Response. Whatever thought or action you need to take to get to the reward.
- Reward. The satisfying feeling you get from the change, along with the lesson whether to do it again or not
The cue is about noticing the reward.
The craving is about wanting the reward.
The response is about obtaining the reward.
So the money question is how do you make an Energy Habit sustainable? James Clear gives Four Laws of Behavior Change to help us implement Energy Habits on the road:
I made it into an acronym: OAES
1. Make it Obvious
“What gets our attention gets attention” (my own quote)
On the road, we need these cues or triggers that catch our attention and remind us to do the desired behavior that brings us energy.
For example, I carry with me absolutely everywhere on the road the Elite Road Warrior water bottle. Why? It’s always out in front of me and an obvious cue to continually hydrate.
My room key cues me to do a routine I called H.OM.E. away from Home. You can learn this cue and routine in episode 015. What can you make obvious on the road that enforces the energy habits?
2. Make it Attractive
The more attractive an opportunity is, the more likely it is to become habit-forming.
I rarely do the things I hate but if I can somehow make it attractive to me, the likelihood of doing it dramatically increases for me.
For example, I love writing in the Elite Road Warrior branded journal. The rich soft, artisan leather calls my name. The Not Forgotten Journal is the same way. And both products are available in the Elite Road Warrior Store.
I love listening to a podcast or audiobook when I workout or go for a walk and have episodes already in the cue. This makes the workout or walk more attractive to me.
What can you make attractive on the road that enforces the energy habits?
3. Make it Easy
Out of the four, this to me was the most important – I needed the habit to be easy to do especially on the road.
James Clear talks a lot about Environment Design. He’s a big advocate that “You don’t have to be the victim of your environment. You can be the architect of it.”
When deciding to practice a new habit, it is best to choose a place that is already in the path of your daily routine. Habits are easy to build when they fit into the flow of your life. It’s the concept of “If This, Then That” in my current environment.
Too often, we try to start habits in high-friction environments. The greater the friction, the less likely the habit. Reduce the friction associated with bad behaviors. When friction is high, habits are difficult.
Sometimes success is less about making good habits easy and more about making bad habits hard. For example, it’s starting very small when integrating an energy habit. Workout for just five minutes each day or read for just five minutes each day on the road.
What can you make easy on the road that enforces the energy habits?
4. Make it Satisfying
With our bad habits, the immediate outcome usually feels good, but the ultimate outcome feels bad. With good habits, it is the reverse: the immediate outcome is unenjoyable but the ultimate outcome feels good.
The cost of your good habits are in the present. The cost of your bad habits are in the future. When the moment of decision arrives, instant gratification usually wins.
As a general rule, the more immediate pleasure you get from an action, the more strongly you should question whether it aligns with your long-term goals.
Just as we are more likely to repeat an experience when the ending is satisfying, we are also more likely to avoid an experience when the ending is painful. Pain is an effective teacher.
Cardinal Rule of Behavior Change – What is immediately rewarded is repeated. What is immediately punished is avoided. For example, when I do the Flat Kiddos in my environment and send those creative pictures to my kids, they’re thrilled knowing dad was thinking of them and that is very satisfying to me.
What can you make satisfying on the road that enforces the energy habits?
Here’s a quick summary of Atomic Habits and how to create a lasting habit:
Sometimes a habit will be hard to remember and you’ll need to make it obvious. Other times you won’t feel like starting and you’ll need to make it attractive. In many cases, you may find that a habit will be too difficult and you’ll need to make it easy.
And sometimes, you won’t feel like sticking with it and you’ll need to make it satisfying.
An energy habit is the one road superpower you need on every single business trip.
Your Action Items…
2. Go to the Elite Road Warrior Store and pick up some items that will make your Energy Habits more obvious/attractive/easy/satisfying
4. Or reading the weekly article from Elite Road Warrior on LinkedIn or the Elite Road Warrior site
Take action on this road superpower today.
You Got This!