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Dear Jess...I can't stop panicking

Every Friday, Jess Ratcliffe drops by to help us overcome the obstacles and worries that are holding us back. Share your questions with Jess anonymously at

I can’t stop panicking that we’re in September already. It feels like all I can think about is how behind I am on my goals for this year. I want to end this year on a high but it feels like I’m running on empty. How can I pick myself up when it feels like I haven’t got any energy (or motivation) for my work?

Oh gosh, I feel you. It can be the most frustrating thing to want to make progress but feel like you’re running on empty.

Let’s work on how you can fill yourself with energy and give the next couple of months everything you’ve got - starting today.

Before we dive in, I’d love to share how this technique helped me.

You know that feeling when everything seems to be on the go-slow and you can’t speed it up - no matter how hard you try? That’s exactly how I felt a few months ago - like I was trying to push water uphill. And it was painful. Our inner-critic is so loud, the fear is all we hear.

What if the vision I have for myself - and my business - is only ever destined to be just that - a vision and not a reality? What if that tiny voice - that inkling - telling me there’s more was wrong? What if I put myself out there and fail? What if I’m not enough?

So many of us experience each day without stepping back and identifying when or why we’re feeling full of energy or running on empty.

When it dawned on me that I was feeling that way - low energy, low motivation - I was baffled: “Jess, you run your own business, you’re in control of what you spend your time on, how can it feel like you’re not enjoying this?”

That question - and the way I was feeling - inspired me to take a step back. Something needed to change.

Then it hit me. I was spending too much time on the work I felt I “should” be doing vs. the work I really wanted to be doing. And the “should” work wasn’t filling me with energy - like coaching clients or hosting my workshop does - it was draining me of energy.

Where does it feel like you’re doing what you “should” be vs. what you want to be?

So I made a decision to spend more time on what fills me and start removing what doesn’t. And I used this technique to do it.

What fills you with energy?

This technique - the energy audit - will help you identify the people, activities and situations that fill you with energy. And the people, activities and situations that drain you of energy. So we can create the space to do more of what fills us and do our best to limit the time we spend on what drains us.

To get started, I’d love you to grab a piece of paper and draw a line down the center. Writing “FILLS” on one side and “DRAINS” on the other. Here’s one I made earlier…(for the Blue Peter generation).

With your columns set, list everything that comes to mind under each. Write as freely and honestly as you can - there’s no right or wrong; no “should” or “shouldn’t” here.

To give you an example, here’s a taste of my FILLS vs DRAINS list.

When your lists feel complete, take a moment to reflect on the following questions:

  • What’s your biggest insight from this exercise? What surprises you? What patterns or parallels do you see?

  • Looking at your FILLS list, can you see where you want to be spending more time? How could you create more space for what fills you?

  • Looking at your DRAINS list, can you see where you want to be spending less time? How could you start removing your drains from your life?

Let’s test it

To put our insights into action, I’d love for you to run a self-experiment.

Pick a day (ideally your next work day, given your question) to spend time on what fills you and avoid what drains you. At the end of the day, reflect on how you feel - do you have more energy? Did you learn something new about what fills/drains you to add to your list?

I’d love to hear how you get on.

Jess is our resident coach and the founder of Unleash Your Extraordinary - a transformative coaching method and workshop designed to equip you with the mindset, tools and next steps to turn the vision you have for yourself into reality.

When she’s not coaching ambitious individuals, hosting Unleash Your Extraordinary or writing her Dear Jess column, she’s tucked away in a coffee shop enjoying a cheeky Cortado.

Would you like to join one of Jess’ workshops or simply say hello? She’d love to meet you. You’ll find her at or @jessratcliffe on Instagram.

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