Carol Beebe is a certified life coach, an educator, and a successful business coach. Who better to talk to about reaching goals, finding balance, and making wise decisions, right? In this post, Carol shares about an exercise that can help you find balance in your life.
I thought I would start this blog with some catchy song lyric about a bucket, but believe it or not, there are not that many songs out there that portray buckets in a flattering light. I then looked up phrases with the word, bucket, and didn’t fare much better. “Crying in a bucket,” or “Don’t amount to a bucket of spit” isn’t the image that I want to convey for discovering your life buckets. So, let’s keep it simple and use the dictionary definition of a Bucket as a container that we fill with things.
Life Buckets are the different areas of your life that you fill up with things.
The areas of your life that you fill up with things all take energy. Sometimes we allow our buckets to flow over with too many things and we experience energy depletion. We even have many ways we describe this depletion of energy: “I’m tired, exhausted, drained, worn out, wiped out, burnt out, fried, spent and just plain weary.” Just reading that list can make us tired!
How can we live our lives in a way that we are spending our energy on what’s most important? The Life Bucket exercise described below is a way for you take a look at the different areas of your life, evaluate how much energy you are pouring into the areas and begin a plan to have a more renewable energy filled life.
To get started, click here for a free copy of the Life Buckets worksheet.
Or, you can begin by drawing several buckets on a sheet of drawing paper. Label below or above each bucket with a key area of your life. Here are some possible areas to choose from: family, friends, spiritual, career, hobbies, health, learning… you may have more! This is unique to your life, so list whatever key areas are important to you.
Next, start with one bucket and write inside of it all those things that fill up the bucket. Here’s an example, I labeled one of my buckets Friendship and I put inside of the bucket these words: hikes, coffee dates, good conversations, regularly connecting, fun adventures. Write inside or around (you may not be able to fit all of your words inside some buckets) each bucket with the things that fill them up. Once you are done, look at all you have put down on your sheet and take a moment to understand ALL of the energy it takes from you to do ALL of those things in your buckets. Now, imagine your energy as water. Water (your energy) in its best state flows freely into each bucket at just the right rate and temperature. Here are some questions and suggested next steps to help you reflect on each key area and how much energy (water) you are putting into each bucket. Pick and choose what works best for you.
- Look at all of your buckets: “Which ones are full/overfull?” “Which ones have less?”
- Metaphorically, which items are… Frozen (you haven’t put energy into it for awhile)? Liquid (your energy regularly flows to it)? Vapor (invisible/non-existent energy)?
- How can you change the things that are in a frozen or vapor state to a liquid state?
- Look at each item in a bucket and ask yourself, “Does ____________ drain my energy or help me gain more energy?” (Your emotional response while reading the phrase may help you decide what drains or gains your energy. Does __________ make me feel Happy or Stressed? Excited or Fearful? Weighted or Free?)
Take a next step: Make a plan to limit or get rid of things that drain your energy. Share the plan with someone you can trust so that they can be your cheerleader as you make the changes.
Take a next step: Make a plan to increase/add things that give you energy. (Note: Adding even 10 minutes of energy giving activities throughout your day will improve your overall feeling of well-being. Go for a short walk, call a friend, read something that makes you laugh, quiet connection with God, listen to music that makes you smile… schedule in time to do those things that bring you joy!) Finally, be gracious with yourself as you make changes in your life. Most often the best approach is small, incremental steps that build on one another to achieve your goals. Focus on changing one to two things at a time and remember to celebrate your successes.
As you move about the busyness and noise of this world, may your energy be renewed and your Life Buckets be not too full, not too empty, but just right!