Monday, September 28, 2015

How Big is Your Bucket?

We have grown up in a culture that chases ‘bigger’.  We don’t just up-size, we super-size.  We use bigger houses to define our success, think restaurants with overloaded plates are ‘better’, believe the bigger the diamond the greater the love, and we think that we don’t just need to fill the shoes of those that walked before us but we need to leave a bigger footprint. 

Everything that we do tends to expand to fill the size of the bucket that we set out in front of us.  Whether we are socialized or hard-wired into believing it, we tend to fall into the belief that our life goal is to fill the bucket.  Knowing this then becomes an important component of any development plan we create, whether for others or for ourselves.  Consider the following two scenarios...
  1. People that are perpetually dissatisfied with their lives.  No matter how much they seem to have, it is just never enough.  
  2. People that are happy and satisfied with their lives, even though it may not appear that they have much to be happy about

You likely know someone from each of these scenarios and, it`s equally likely that you fall into one of these descriptions.  Now consider that the only element that is differentiating people from description one or two is... the size of their bucket!

Those that are perpetually dissatisfied with their lives are constantly trying to fill a super-sized bucket. It may be so large that they couldn't possibly fill it in a lifetime.  The bucket they set out in front of themselves has pre-determined their dissatisfaction.  No matter how much they attain and achieve, the bucket continues to have room for `more`.  Additionally, because there is constantly room in the bucket they are unable to celebrate the successes they have achieved because they are quickly swallowed up in the need for `more`.

Instead, those that have placed in front of them a smaller bucket, find it easier to fill.  They can be satisfied with what they have in their lives because their bucket is full.  A partially full bucket is not demoralizing because filling it seems achievable.  

When a bucket is filled it can simply be shifted to one side and new bucket set out in front.  Think of this visual because it is important.  You may have a new, empty bucket in front of you but, at any time, you can glance to the side and see all of the full buckets you have lined up over the course of your lifetime.  Your achievements are readily and easily viewed, continuing to instill a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.  Therefore, you can continue to strive and to grow, filling new buckets as you do, without ever experiencing the frustration of attempting to fill a `too large` bucket. That over-sized bucket will begin to feel impossible to fill, as though there is a hole in the bottom that prevents you from ever succeeding. 

`There`s a hole in my bucket Dear Liza, Dear Liza, There`s a hole in my bucket Dear Liza, a hole`
We want to be motivated by the concept of more, but we don`t want it to seem unachievable. That is demoralizing and will rob us of the energy or drive to succeed. Instead, be strategic about the size of the bucket you set before you.  Large enough that it requires a little work and effort to fill, not so large that it would take an entire lifetime.  There is no virtual bucket shortage out there.  There is not limit on the storage space available for all of the buckets you fill.

If you happen to be one of those with a too-large bucket set before you then the task before you is clear.  Get yourself a mess of smaller buckets and start emptying your big bucket into it.  Spend some time thinking about everything that is currently in that big bucket, all of your past accomplishments and achievements, every hurdle you have jumped, every barrier you have overcome.  Shift them into smaller buckets and line them up.  When your big bucket is empty, toss it and look out over all of the buckets you have filled, everything you have achieved thus far.  Embrace it, revel in it and then... place a new, smaller bucket in front of you and start filling it.

It`s not the number or size of your accomplishments that makes for a happy and contented life, but the size of your bucket you`re putting them in!

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