There is a certain hour during the day when you just want to be done. Sometimes it hits predictably in the mid-afternoon, other times it sneaks up on you as personalities clash in the office, a client makes yet another last-minute request, or the gas tank light goes on while you are stuck in the evening traffic.
That feeling is not about the busy season, or a tough Monday. It is about reserves. All too often, we find ourselves running on just barely enough – gas, time, space, money, energy, opportunity. Our reserve tanks are empty, so when unexpected demands arise, we are hard pressed to deal with them gracefully because we are running on fumes. The tough reality is that the patience to deal with an irritated client, the mind-space to thoughtfully review a tax return, and the creativity needed to think your way out of a difficult problem don’t just appear out of the blue. They must be provided for preemptively. That is why reserves are so important.
To have a reserve means to have more than what you need. In fact, it means having a lot more than you think you need. Reserves allow us the luxury to respond to the changing circumstances and curve-balls from a position of strength, grace, and choice. Reserves give us space, peace of mind, and comfort in emergencies.
In what areas of your life are you running low right now? The ten statements below are intended to give you a starting point. Are they true for you?
- 1. I have nothing in my office that I don’t need now.
Abundance of physical space is a pre-requisite for thinking clearly. Clutter is not your friend during the slowest of times at the office, and it is a downright handicap during the busy season. What can you do today to create room to think?
- 2. I have delegated all tasks that can be done by someone else. I don’t do errands.
Errands can be a terrible drain of energy and time, unless you find them relaxing and look forward to them. “To the greatest degree possible, do only the things that only you can do.” Doug Autenrieth’s quote gets to the heart of the issue here. What are you doing today that could be done by someone else?
- 3. My hair and clothes are the way I want them.
Reserves cannot be created until you have plugged holes in your life, and anything that drains your energy is a hole. If you have to spend an hour in the morning making yourself look presentable, and feel exhausted and dissatisfied by the effort, take pause. Do you need a new haircut? What would it be like to have a closet where every piece of clothing is laundered, pressed, and fits you well?
- 4. I am up-to-date on all health, dental, and vision check-ups.
A funny thing about overdue dentist appointments and eye exams is that you really do know better, and few things drain your energy as fast as being out of integrity. The best way to get this point addressed is to schedule those check-ups in advance (if an appointment is on your calendar, it has a fighting chance of happening). Another consideration is choosing the service providers that you genuinely enjoy on a personal level (yes, it is possible to love your dentist! Ask me how I know!) Great doctors, dentists, and ophthalmologists do exist – you may just have to interview a few to find the perfect fit for you.
- 5. I walk or exercise at least three times a week.
Your body was not made to go from bed to your desk and back to bed! Physical exercise is a natural source of energy. Choose an activity that you enjoy, and you will be likely to actually stick with it.
- 6. I know what my needs are, and get them taken care of.
Unmet needs will pull at your soul, robbing the time and attention from opportunities, and sabotaging your efforts. Get clear on what you need – whether in terms of money, information, relationships, space, personal and professional growth. Validate what you need. Then get to work!
- 7. My gas tank is always at least half full.
This one is about reserves of time and space, both literally and as a metaphor. Whenever the level of gas in my car drops below half, I get a tangible reminder to examine other areas of my life that might need some extra attention. Where am I running low on resources?
- 8. I get a massage or other body work done regularly.
Close your eyes and remember how you feel after a great massage. Relaxed, unhurried, serene. Has it been more than a few months?
- 9. I eat only the foods that nourish me.
Strong energy comes from natural, minimally processed foods. Are the foods you are choosing setting you up for a great high-performance day?
- 10. I have at least one hour each day, beyond resting, just for me.
Uninterrupted time to process the day, plan ahead, and be at ease is critical if you want to spend the rest of the day without feeling like someone is constantly stepping on your toes and breathing down your neck. Know what gives you energy, and be sure to do it every day.
How do you know when you have built reserves? You worry a little less. Your daily life becomes a little more effortless. You find just a little more patience, attention, and energy for what matters most. You have the space and the time to do what is important, not just what is urgent. Remember those rare people that seem like a quiet peaceful oasis in the midst of a raging storm? They probably have deep wells of reserves to draw upon. Time. Space. Money. Opportunity. Connection. Energy. Which one would you like more of?