Are You Running On Empty?

Your space is filled with Stuff, your calendar is crammed with activities and your To Do list is running off the page, yet you still have an empty place inside – a void and a feeling that something is missing. You can be overwhelmed with Stuff and constant activity yet still be running on empty. Perhaps you need to build a reserve.

Coming Up Short

My wife and I had recently moved to Greenville to be closer to my new office, where I had been hired for my first job as a computer programmer. In those days, men wore coats and ties to the office, so I needed to buy dress shirts. We were shopping in a local department store and I found some nice shirts on sale.

I picked out a couple that I liked and carried them to the check out counter. But I had miscalculated the cost and when the clerk rang up my purchase, I realized to my horror and embarrassment that I didn’t have enough money to pay the bill. As I felt my face flush with shame, I had to admit to the sales clerk that I was short of cash and left one of the shirts for him to return to the rack.

I realize that some people may have brushed this off with a laugh but I was not able to do so. And I resolved that I would never have to endure this again. I resolved to keep a reserve of cash so I would never ever come up short. I would always have enough.

Running On Empty

Have you ever been late for an important meeting or appointment and realized that you were about to run out of gas? Or have you ever planned a big project but when the day came, you were just too tired to complete the job? Have you ever been in the check out line, ready to make a purchase, and realized you didn’t have enough cash to cover the cost?

If you constantly “run on empty” – whether it be gas in your car, money in your checking account, or energy to live your life – then please seriously consider why and how you need to build your reserve.

Empty In The Midst Of Plenty

The irony is we sometimes feel overwhelmed, yet we are running on empty. We can have a house full of stuff, a calendar packed with meetings and a to-do list overflowing with activities and yet feel that something is missing and that our resources are dwindling. We can get so caught up in having a big lifestyle that we are unable to have a satisfying life.

If your time and energy and money and space are being drained away, your lifestyle may be hindering you from the life you want. Building a reserve isn’t only accumulating stockpiles of supplies, materials, and other resources. Sometimes, having a reserve requires you to let go of some things that do not serve you well. “The less you have to lift,” said Thomas Leonard, “the higher you can rise.” [Leonard]

Pillars Of A Balanced Life

A place to begin examining where you might need a reserve is the Pillars of a balanced life from Mentor Coach. This is an assessment designed for you to score yourself in 10 life areas plus an overall life satisfaction score.

For our purposes today, we aren’t interested in scoring, though. Instead, we can use the different pillars to identify where and how we may need a reserve.

Reserves For A Balanced Life

For example, consider the Financial Pillar. Where do you need a reserve? Or what do you need to give up to plug a hole that is draining your reserves?

  • Are you spending money for things you don’t need or that give you only a momentary lift, your particular Gazingus Pin?
  • Are you using credit cards to cover normal living expenses?
  • Do you have a 6 – 9 month emergency savings fund set aside?
  • Do you pay your bills on time and well before the due date?

Or think about the Learning & Growth Pillar. Do you need to build a reserve in this area? Or is there a drain on your resources that needs plugged?

  • Do you make time to read?
  • Is there a class you want to take, “if I had time”?
  • Are you effectively dealing with unhelpful habits you no longer want?
  • Do you have an enjoyable morning routine that starts your day with energy and optimism?


Do you see how you can use the 10 Pillars of a Balanced Life as a framework for thinking about reserves? Here are the steps.

  1. Look at one of the 10 pillars.
  2. Decide if you a) need a reserve in some part of that life area or b) need to stop a drain on your reserves in that area.
  3. Make a plan for addressing your need in that pillar.
  4. Follow your plan.
  5. Observe how you feel in that pillar now. (Are you more at ease? more confident? less worried? less frustrated?)
  6. Is there something else you need to do to have a reserve in this area? If so, do that.
  7. Repeat for the remaining pillars.

A Golden Mean

Having a reserve isn’t simply about stockpiling supplies. That is merely one step in the process. You can be overwhelmed yet still be running on empty. You require reserves of time and space and energy as much as you need physical reserves of materials and supplies.

Having enough is the Golden Mean between deficiency and want or excess and overwhelm. What small step could you take today to begin moving toward having enough in the life area that would benefit you the most? That is embracing the Excelerated Life™!

Excelerated Reserves™ — building your reserves in all areas — is one step in creating your Excelerated Life™, a life of flourishing, of well-being, meaning, and purpose.

Read more about the Excelerated Life™.


Leonard, Thomas. The 28 Laws Of Attraction. New York: Scribner, 1998

overwhelmed and running on empty

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