The gas gauge flashed. 9 miles to empty.
9 miles to empty?! How did that happen? Wasn’t it just 35 miles?
Oh, right. That had been three days ago, and I had repeatedly put off filling the tank.
I recently returned from a business trip, and had been late to one thing after another since my return.
First it was an evening event, then daycare drop off, then daycare pickup. There was never enough time!
This particular morning, I’d left the house later than I intended and was already going to be 5 minutes late for a meeting. Fortunately, it was a meeting that a few attendees weren’t local and would already be calling in for.
I’d forgotten I needed to get gas…again.
As I drove, I glanced at the “9 miles to empty” flashing and mentally debated if I could make it to work and get gas afterword.
Then I realized…this is ridiculous.
If I’m already going to call in for the first 5 minutes of the meeting, calling in for the first 10 doesn’t matter. Running out of gas on the side of the road does.
I know better.
Why was I not willing to prioritize my own wellness?
I stopped and got gas.
I was still late. I joined the meeting via conference call until I got to the office. It didn’t matter.
The world kept spinning. I participated meaningfully in my work.
And I filled my tank.
Are you running on empty today?
Running on empty is a cliche, but it took literally running my vehicle on empty for me to realize how off balance and empty I was running.
Can you relate?
No matter how hard we try to avoid it, there are times when life simply is chaotic and crazy.
Even in the midst of the chaos and crazy, filling our own tank is one of the most important things we can do.
3 reasons to fill your tank today
You can’t afford not to.
It’s easy to think, “Oh it can wait just a little longer” (whatever it is in your case). In reality, more often than not, delaying addressing something simply makes the problem worse.
In this case, it was still easily solvable, just more expensive. That’s not always the case.
I overpaid because I didn’t plan ahead and defaulted to the most convenient option in a desperate moment. A minor situation was more costly because I didn’t address it right away.
What do you need to address before it becomes more costly?
To reduce stress.
Don’t play a a game of “how far can this go.” You’ll give a situation far more mental weight than it deserves.
If I had simply prioritized getting gas earlier, I wouldn’t have had to think about it every time I got in the car, already stressed and running late.
I created additional, needless stress and decision-making fatigue at a time I couldn’t afford it.
I could have paid the same convenience fee three days earlier and avoided the repeated stress every time I got in the car and realized I’d forgotten yet again.
Where are you creating additional stress and fatigue that you can’t afford?
To get more done
I know, it’s counter-intuitive. One of the key reasons we don’t fill our tanks – literally or figuratively – is that we wrongly assume we can’t afford the time or money to take care of the tank-filling in the midst of our other responsibilities. Nothing could be further from the truth.
If we’re constantly running on empty, we have nothing left to give. Our focus inadvertently becomes on our own survival, even when we most want it to focus on other people, goals and responsibilities.
Be proactive and do something that fills your tank today – before you’re running on empty. You’ll be happier, less stressed, and ultimately far more productive.