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Remember to Refill Your Bucket

I can’t take time off because there’s so much that needs to get done…

I’m staying late because I have so many emails to catch up on….

I can’t have lunch today because I’ve got a tight deadline…

Most of us are so completely giving at work because this is the culture we have bought into. The culture of not taking vacations or feeling guilty if we do. The culture of going to work when we’re sick, staying late, missing important family events, dinners, birthdays, kids’ performances, concerts, etc. because the job comes first.

I have been guilty of denying my own needs. I learned this behavior from my mother. She was always working, never took time to just relax, never took a vacation and never made life outside of work a priority.

I didn’t realize how much of an offender I was until I decided to take a position on Semester at Sea Summer Voyage 2011. The Voyage I believe was 66 days from June to August. I took a leave from my full-time job and I had enough paid vacation days to cover my entire leave.

Looking back, I was so grateful I had that much paid vacation time, but I hadn’t purposely accumulated that amount of time for the Semester at Sea adventure. I accumulated that amount of time by not taking time off and refilling my bucket for years. YEARS!

Think of it this way. Much of your job is to put out fires every day. That’s one of the biggest things people in leadership positions do. People basically run to us and say there’s a fire, and we run to the fire’s location and put it out.

Well, in order to put out these fires, our buckets need to be filled with water! How are you going to keep putting out these fires if you don’t make sure you are always filling your own bucket with symbolic water?

Your responsibility as a leader is to not only solve other people’s problems but take care of yourself so you are strong enough to do the job and do it well!

I’m still working on perfecting the art of filling my bucket, it’s a day-to-day practice, but here are some things that I do and/or have done to take care of myself in my career:

  1. No skipping lunch

  2. Exercise

  3. Take days off when I need to rest

  4. Long weekend trips when my bucket is bone dry!

  5. Find a job that allows me to have good work/life balance

  6. Don’t put off trips you want to take.

  7. Don’t ignore how your body, mind and soul is telling you it’s time REFILL the bucket.

As we head into spring, a time of renewed life, how are you going to renew yourself and ensure that your bucket is always full?



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