One of the best things you can give your kids is a a full tank. The reality is that life constantly empties our tank. How do you refill it?

As we talked about in a past post, more than a few parents have probably leaned too heavily into their kids as a source of life, having their own happiness overly tied into the happiness and fortunes of their kids. If your kids are your main source of happiness and fulfillment, you might want to rethink that.

To get us started, here’s a question:

When was the last time you did something that gave you life that didn’t involve your kids?

I think there are things that give life to all of us. And there are those that drain us. What I’d love most is for you to discover what that is in your life. And to get you started, I’ll share some things I’ve learned about myself:

Things that drain me:

Working more than 60 hours a week (a constant temptation for me)
Cutting corners on sleep
Being around people without clear boundaries about my involvement or responsibilities
Administrative details
Project management

And here are some things that energize me—that give me life (outside of family):

Starting the day with 30 minutes of quiet time: reading the Bible, reflecting and praying
Biking and working out
Taking photos
Hanging out with my wife (okay that’s family but she’s awesome)
Spending half my working time alone–half with people
Playing to my strengths at work (communication, team development and vision casting)
Getting a full night’s sleep
Dinner with friends
Yardwork and washing the cars by hand
Hanging out with other leaders
Playing around with gadgets and technology
Watching a great movie

I don’t know what it is for you, but I know there are certain activities and patterns that give me life. And when I spend significant amounts of time doing things that give me life, I actually have life to bring to my family. I show up with something to offer—not needing the people I love the most to make me feel better.

So what’s your pattern? What energizes you and brings you life? I’d love lots of you to share. And here’s why:

I think so many parents have been running on empty for so long that we’ve forgotten what brings us life.

So go for it! What drains you and what gives you life?