Is It Time To Fill Up Your Tank?

My #1  piece of advice for social entrepreneurs (or anyone for that matter) is don’t let your tank run on empty.

I remember many years ago, not long after I started driving, running out of petrol in my car. My car came to a stop, late at night, only 200 metres from a service station. The problem was, I had ignored the warning signals for too long. It was a hard lesson to learn but I have never run out of petrol again!

Did you know that our emotional, physical, intellectual and spiritual tanks can get empty too? If you are a social entrepreneur or someone who gives out to others, you may find you get little warning signs that your tank is getting empty because you are pouring out to others from your tank.

A few days ago, I realised that in my life, I have been running on close to empty. When my car is getting close to empty, I have a flashing warning light telling me how much fuel until it is empty – ding, ding 80km till empty. Just like in a car,  I could see the warning signs in my life but kept on driving.

Thankfully,  I have learned to recognise the signs and never get down to empty in my life. The signs will be different for everyone but we need to make sure we don’t run out of fuel or, like a car, we will not get very far.  If our tanks are not full we can become unproductive, depleted, leading to discouragement, stressed, drained and agitated.

Today, I went to the gym, and I was talking to the owner. She was telling me how she works such long hours and I could see through the look in her eyes and by the things she was saying, that her tank was getting low. The problem is that when you run a business, it is not only your life that is effected by running on empty but it also your business.

Brian G. Dyson, a CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises had this to say about keeping balance in our life: “Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling five balls in the air. You name them – work, family, health, friends and spirit – and you’re keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls – family, health, friends and spirit – are made of glass. If you drop these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.”

How do you fill your tank?

It is different for everyone so you need to find the specific things that fill your tank. Even Jesus took time out to be alone and away from the crowds, to pray.

1. Do things you love doing.  Some people get energised by being in large crowds, others like to be alone. For me, I took a day off work, resisted turning the computer on, and spent some time doing things that I know fill my tank. These include praying, meditating, reading, listening to music, making a cake and just sitting outside enjoying nature. Also, and I know this may sound a bit strange for some of you, but I cleaned and organised the house. I am more at peace in a clean and organised house and so is my family.

2.Delegate or Outsource. In order to make more time for yourself, you need to be willing to delegate tasks and outsource certain activities. You cannot expect to do everything and do it well. Time is a constant that won’t change, so you need to be willing to make changes and free up some time for what really matters. I decided to outsource some things that were taking too much of my time and energy.

3. Avoid Procrastination. Procrastination often leads to pent-up energy and stress. Just the act of avoiding something creates mental clutter. I’m sure you know what I mean. Pick a couple tasks you are avoiding and break it up into smaller steps.

With a full tank, I find I am more productive and have a clear mind for new ideas and strategies. Actually, I had quite a few new ideas when my mind had rested. You will also be more focused and in a better place to give out to others. Never neglect the importance of regularly filling up your tank for your business and for your life.

Do you need to fill up your tank?

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