Running on Empty. Somehow that last quarter of a tank of gas has all but disappeared, and it seems the car is running on fumes. The little orange light appears to glow with more intensity, screaming “Gas! I Need Fuel! NOW!” But just like Cousin Eddy I “coasted into town on fumes.”
I do this all the time, but why? When the tank is getting low I pass several gas stations, but I rarely just take care of it and fill ‘er up. Instead I wait for the alarm to go off: FEED ME! FUEL!
What happens when you mimic this pattern with your projects, your goals, or your agendas?
Most likely you run and run and run until you collapse. And when you go to fill your tank you’re exhausted. You’re near burnout, and begging for respite, and hoping for a total physical, mental, and emotional refresh. Turns out your “gas money give out in Gurnee.” and it’s not an easy task to get going again.
Think of the last time you “burned the candle at both ends.” Did it feel something like that?
Wouldn’t it be better to refuel along the way? What if (back to cars) you took time to stop, stretch your legs, top off the gas, vacuum, wash the windows, and toss the trash? It could make a world of difference.
So What can you do to keep yourself from running on empty?
- Give your soul what it needs. Put down the pen, paper, hammer, mouse (whatever your instrument of work is) and step away for a while. Take a walk, a swim, plant pumpkins, or rock out to the 60s.
- Give your body what it needs. Eat well and sleep well. Exercise.
- Pause to refocus. Turn off all your notifications. Give yourself permission to stand still and just breathe. Admit that you are tired, worn out, and need a little time to decompress.
- Set boundaries. You are a good person and will go above and beyond to help people. But there needs to be limits to what you can offer and do.
- Head off in a different direction – on a different adventure. When you return, you will feel refreshed and often have a new perception of what you were doing.
- Remind yourself that everything doesn’t need to be perfect and very few things have hard deadlines. We always want to do our best, of course, but we are not perfect. Sometimes your best is what you have to offer, and usually that is more than enough.