9. Don’t Wait Until it is Empty to Refill Your Tank

This essay is part of my 42 Deep Thoughts project.

This is a piece of advice I got, many years ago, from one of my first mentors. I was working with Dale Carnegie Training in sales and as an assistant trainer. Ron was the director of the region I was in, he was generous with his experience and advice.

He told me that when people drive up to the gas station everyone only fills their car tank half way.

But there are two types of people. The first type of person waits until their tank is empty. Then, because it’s so expensive, they only fill their tank to the half-way mark. The second type of person keeps their tank full, and when it gets down to the halfway mark, they fill it up again.

It costs the same to fill your tank from empty to the halfway mark, or from the halfway mark to full.

In the first scenario you’re at risk of running out of fuel, in the second, you have the extra leeway in case you can’t get to a gas station immediately or there’s an emergency.

This value applies to so much more than just your car. It is a way to approach every resource, or planning opportunity you encounter.

Groceries is an obvious example. Do you have a backup milk for your coffee? You’re buying the same amount of milk in the end, the only question is when. Milk lasts a while, why risk running out?

What about your credit card bill; why not pay it off bi-monthly?

It can be expensive not to pay your credit card bill in full monthly, that’s how you end up paying a lot of extra interest. So it’s generally a good idea to pay it off monthly.

If you pay off your balance twice a month, you’ll never risk a late payment or extra interest. You’ll be paying the same amount regardless.

This next example is one of those wise things you learn in kindergarten…

When you use something, put it away when you’re done. Or, if you see something out of place around your house, put it away as soon as you notice.

You’re going to have to clean up, now or later. If you do your cleaning in pieces it’s much easier than all at once. In this case, it’s less effort, not even the same effort, and the outcome is better, a consistently clean house.

Like cleaning up your home, maintaining your health, physical and mental, is an ongoing task.

Just as filling your gas tank is current you being kind to future you, maintaining your health is current you being kind to future you.

Unlike gas, you’re not paying the same. You pay more if you let your health slip.

Just as you brush your teeth daily so you can have teeth as long as possible, eating well, exercise, and mediation daily, are all ways for current you to be kind to future you.

You may be paying now, but you pay less. To have your good health later on, that’s invaluable.

All these examples are about planning and thinking ahead. Thinking about how current you can be kind to future you for the same investment.

Can you prevent a problem for future you by doing something now that you’ll do later regardless, or pay more in some other way?