Earlier this month, I taught my Get Your Balls Back workshop in a new format for the first time: three very full days back to back, instead of an hour a week for seven weeks. It was awesome. I had a great time, the guys who took the class seemed to enjoy it and find it valuable, and the new format seemed to be much more convenient for everybody.
It was also very exhausting. I didn’t anticipate how much energy it would take to teach the workshop in such a fire-hose format.
So for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been managing that exhaustion by taking time to rest and do things I enjoy, just for me. I call it “refilling my bucket”.
Imagine if you had a bucket of water, and the people around you also had buckets, but some of theirs were nearly empty. Because you want to do good to others, you go around pouring water in their buckets, so they can have some. You can imagine that it doesn’t take very long before your own bucket is all but empty. If you don’t take the time to refill it, it becomes impossible to give anything to anyone else.
It’s the same with emotional energy, and that’s why I encourage the guys I mentor to put themselves first. A lot of people think doing anything for themselves is selfish and takes away from others. It’s not about being selfish; it’s about taking good care of yourself so that you can better take care of those around you. It’s in everybody’s best interest to keep your own bucket full, even if that means taking time away from giving to others for a while.
Stephen Covey called it “sharpening the saw”, and it’s the same idea. By taking time away from chopping trees to keep your saw sharpened, you actually end up being able to chop many more trees than if you stubbornly kept chopping with a dull blade.
Have I convinced you yet that it’s a great idea to keep your bucket full? If so, you might now be asking how exactly you refill your bucket. My answer is that you already know. Grab a paper and pencil, think about these questions, and write down whatever comes to mind, without judging or editing your responses.
- What did you love doing as a child?
- What makes you feel like a child again?
- What gives you a rush of exhilaration?
- What makes you laugh? Cry?
- What gives you a sense of awe and wonder at the world?
- What makes your heart sing?
One caveat: don’t include activities that are distracting and numbing instead of fulfilling and rejuvenating. Alcohol and pornography, for example. I’m not saying those things are necessarily bad; I’m just saying they don’t belong on this list because they don’t refill your bucket. They just let you hide from the fact that your bucket is empty, which isn’t very helpful.
Ignore any thoughts and feelings that tell you that doing the things on your list is selfish. Remember that everybody wins when you choose to put yourself first and make time to keep your bucket full. When you’re feeling empty inside, make time to do at least one thing from the list you just made. In this way, you keep your bucket full. Then, not only will you be able to continue giving to others, you will feel more fulfilled and happy yourself.