When my oldest daughter was in kindergarten, she came home one day and told me that her bucket got tipped by a classmate. I had NO IDEA what she was talking about. Did she mean a bucket she was playing with in the schoolyard? Did she mean that her lunch container fell on the floor? Lets face it, 5 year-olds can be confusing! She proceeded to tell me about a fantastic book her class was reading together. The classroom teacher was showing the kids different ways they could “fill” not only their own bucket, but also the buckets of other people around them. She also explained that there are actions that “tip” people’s bucket.
I found this concept genius!
As we grow from child to adult, most of us learn to put our personal needs and priorities behind everything else. We view self-care as indulgent and selfish. Somehow, we subconsciously learn that we should put the needs of our spouse, boss, friends, children (and everyone else) before our own. While there is no doubt that being giving and generous is something that is important, we must learn to balance that with our own needs. If we fail to properly take care of our self, eventually we will end up failing those around us too.
The bucket analogy is something that we can all easily understand and visualize. We each have buckets but sadly, we aren’t taught nearly enough about how to keep them full! The more I thought about it, the more I realized that we all have soooo many buckets! Some of the more basic (but very important) buckets include:
responsibility bucket (work, school, chores etc.)
fun bucket (socializing, entertainment, relaxing etc.)
relationship bucket (friendships, romantic partners etc.)
health bucket (nutrition, exercise, sleep etc.)
financial bucket (income, savings, bills, debt etc.)
family bucket (parents, siblings, children and more)
purpose bucket (what are we really trying to accomplish in this life)
spirituality bucket (this one depends on your personal view of where you fit into the universe)
The list goes on…..Some buckets seem related, others not so much.
These “buckets” are the different aspects of our complex lives. The really interesting thing about these buckets are that once one is “full”, it tends to overflow into other buckets. For example, if your relationship bucket is topped-up, probably your fun bucket will be pretty high due to the fact that when you spend time with people you have a relationship with, you probably will enjoy yourself simply because you are in a good place with them emotionally. BUT, the inverse is also true. Let’s pretend that your health bucket is running low, your fun bucket will probably be pretty empty too because nothing is very fun when you feel like crap.
Depending on your unique traits and circumstances, you will find that some buckets are naturally easier to fill than others.
Personally, my relaxation bucket can get emptied pretty fast if I don’t give it some attention! Anyone else relate to that one? ;)
So the ultimate goal is to consistently keep all of out buckets pretty damn full. I understand that we can’t expect all of our buckets to be filled to the brim, all of the time. There will always more we can do to help our buckets…especially the more neglected ones. However, when we begin to think about our lives in terms of buckets, we can begin to see areas that need some attention and start to find ways that promote “filling of the bucket”. When we categorize the different aspects of our life and focus on small tasks to improve these areas, it is much less overwhelming.
Small, progressive steps to self-improvement are much more sustainable in the long-term.
I have a secret…when you nurture and fill one of your buckets, all of the others are positively impacted too!
When we are able to routinely have all (or most) of our buckets in a “filled state”, we are better able to handle the hiccups that inevitably happen in life. Instead of one small event being the straw that broke the camel’s back, we are more likely to pick ourselves up after the hard stuff and keep moving forward! We become stronger and more resilient!
To examine your buckets, try the following activity:
Think about your life in terms of buckets. What buckets do you have, what is the state of each bucket.
Make a list of all the different types of buckets you have. Go into as much detail as you want.
Separate you buckets into the following categories:
Full or nearly full
In-between - but rising
So-so and not really moving in any direction
In-between - but lowering
Empty or almost empty
Pick a bucket (or two) to work on. Please don’t try and fill all your buckets at once!!!! That can be overwhelming!
Brainstorm a list of ideas that you can begin to implement that will help you fill your bucket(s). Not everything on this list needs to be done, this is a brainstorming session designed to get your creative juices flowing and help your inspiration and motivation.
Take a few of these ideas and work on integrating them into your life.
Give yourself time focusing on this particular bucket. If it has been neglected for a long time, it will need some extra nurturing.
Once you have spent some time investing in this particular bucket, and it starts to fill up, repeat the exercise with another bucket in your life that needs some attention.
This is a great way to learn how to practice real self-care. We aren’t taught this stuff in school! It takes time and dedication to learn this great balancing act, especially when it is so foreign to most of us. This is where I can help. As part of my customized 1-on-1 packages I will have an in-depth conversation with you where we explore some of your buckets and create a plan to top ‘em up! When you begin to fill up your buckets, your life will change for the better!!!
Where you are,
isn’t where you NEED to stay!
Are you ready to begin filling your buckets?