I have been amazed at how far a car will go when the fuel needle is buried on “E”, the warning light is solid red, and audible indicators are screaming “you’re a fool”. It seems there is a lot more fuel in the tank than we realize.
But what do we do in our own lives when there doesn’t seem to be any left?
Going too Far
I remember returning home from a long trip with my then wife. We were approaching home, within about 80 miles to go. The fuel gauge was showing empty, but the gas stations on this part of the trip seemed like they might be adding a little padding to the fuel price. As I knew the price closer to home was better, I pressed on.
About 70 miles or so from home the low fuel light kicked on. Having, at that time in my life, a strong desire to walk, evidently, I had danced with the fuel gauge needle before. I knew that there was at least 20 good miles in the tank, even at this point, so I pressed on.
About 50 miles from home, I saw an exit and thought better of it. I was nervous, but I was also on a mission. I flew by it with more than a little trepidation. Still, I was sure cheaper gas lay just a… ** clunk, clunk **.
The car started sputtering. I tried the gas and it wasn’t taking up. We started coasting. Evidently this was the night I was going to walk. So I tried the ignition, and with a sigh of relief the car came back to life. There need be no further signs from on high; I took the next exit.
What to Do When You’re Beyond Empty
Sometimes in our own lives there is no gas in the tank. No matter what the reason, no matter how you arrived here, it’s just empty. As much as you need some juice to keep moving, it seems impossible to find.
I get it. I’ve been there. Sometimes it’s where I live. In fact, I was supposed to be writing an entirely different post, but the low fuel light about burned itself out.
So I wrote this instead. I knew I needed to write, but I also knew that I didn’t have the fuel to write what was on my plate.
But I do know there are a few tricks I use to help me get things done even when the tank is empty; let me share them with you.
Three Simple Techniques
First of all, do all you can to keep the tank from getting to empty. You will want to make sure to keep fuel in reserves. In the same way it’s best to fill up a car at a quarter tank, you will want to make sure to get some juice in your life before you see the light come on. Try these three things to keep that fuel high.
- Connect with Friends: Find friends who support you, encourage you, bless you, and help you. Make time for them. Find ways to have fun with them. Laugh. Which leads us to the second thing.
- Have fun: Take some time to enjoy things. Find ways to laugh, even if you just have to visit some websites with eye-rolling jokes or videos. Make sure you have more in your life than just work.
- Small Bites: One of the best pieces of advice I have ever read on moving forward is in the book One Small Step Can Change Your Life. In the book, author Dr. Robert Maurer shows that we can make great progress if we make our goals small. Want to write a book? If 1000 words a day seems insurmountable, try just requiring 5 minutes of yourself. Or simply require yourself to log on your computer and opening up the document each day. You’d be surprised at how much you actually end up writing when the pressure is off. What’s more, over time you will find it easier to notch that writing time up by 5 minutes every so often once the habit is under your belt.
The next time you feel the tank is empty, try a little fun, a little friendship, and a little bit at a time. You may find you have more fuel to go on than you realize.