Is it ever convenient to run out of gas?

Recently, my wife and I were coming home from a concert, and I hadn’t paid careful attention to the gas gauge. I thought we could make it home and I was wrong. We ran out of gas. The warning signs were there:

– The gauge showed me we were low on fuel.

– The gas light had been on for a while.

– My wife even suggested that we needed gas.

I ignored all those warnings.

When the gas tank is on E in most vehicles, it’s not always empty. There is usually about two more gallons in reserve. With that knowledge, I don’t always stop for gas the moment I see the low fuel warning. Though I have only run out of gas twice in my life, both times it was extremely inconvenient.

So instead of having a nice relaxing rest of our evening, we sat near a very busy highway for nearly an hour and a half waiting for AAA to bring gas.

Understandably, she wasn’t very happy and in addition to her comments, I had my own internal dialogue:

“Tim, why didn’t you stop sooner!”

“You’ve ruined a lovely evening!”

“You are such a knucklehead!”

Of course, as hard as I tried to justify my lack of action, I was wrong and that voice inside my head repeated negative mantras.

The time to fill up your tank is not when you run out of gas but rather before you run out. When you run out of gas, there isn’t anything you can do in the moment to fix the problem unless you are at or very near a gas station.

We have warning lights in our personal lives as well. Those “lights” remind us that we need a break. Yet many of us ignore those warnings and continue to work well past our capacity to do so well. We count on our reserve to see us through.

Then our tanks become totally empty, and we have the consequences of high stress, sloppy work, decreased productivity, and often poor health.

It’s important to have reminders that kept us from running out of gas in our personal and professional lives.

  • Listen to those close to you who remind you when a break is needed.
  • Take regular breaks long before you need them for reflection, renewal, and inspiration.
  • Pay careful attention to warning signs and put proactive reminders in place to avoid problems.

Keep your tank full by making sure you keep up the maintenance that your body and mind need to do great work.

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