Whether it’s nature or nurture or a combination of both, from a reasonably young age I started to think about the balancing act of life. I’d grown up hearing things like “it’s possible to have too much of a good thing”, “if it sounds too good to be true – it probably is”, “if you don’t believe you can you, never will”, and the classic “everything in moderation”.
I thought there must be some truth to these phrases, although not totally convinced. From around 15 years old, a concept developed in my head that I called four buckets; this was based on an underlying principle that success for me was going to be a life lived with balance.
I was never going to be that person who goes 200% in one direction. I’ve always been rather envious of those that do, as some succeeded to almighty heights.
The four-bucket concept to me is about breaking life and all that comes with it into four simple and easily recognisable groups, called buckets. These are Family, Friends, Fortune and Self. Each bucket has a description about the role it plays in my well-being and growth as a human.
Family represents my children, wife, siblings, parents, and extended family groups. It also includes my ancestors and lineage. We are not overly spiritual or religious, but our roots are deep, all of us (including you) come from a long line of ancestors. We did not just appear, and that historical foundation and responsibility to carry the mana of those that have come before us provides for great stability.
Friends is about connectedness. Its about learning from experience, enjoying, witnessing, interacting, contributing, challenging, reacting, managing with those around me, and being a positive contributor to society. A stranger today could be a friend tomorrow.
Fortune is primarily about hope. Fortune represents the future, it spends time thinking about goals, aspirations, dreams, and successes. Fortune depending on my stage of life has meant different things. It was about dreaming as a kid to be the sports star on the poster that hung on my bedroom wall, then it was about acquiring knowledge and gaining an education, and now it’s about leaving something behind for my children when I leave, whether that simply be in legacy or in land; time will decide.
Self, it’s last on my list but should be first. Self is the bucket at the top of the waterfall, if its empty, all the buckets below it cannot be filled. Self is about recognising I’ve been given one body and to look after it. I can’t say I get this right but I’m conscious enough to know what’s needed…sleep, good food and activity.
These four buckets need regular monitoring – how full are each of them, how long am I spending in each bucket, is one getting little attention, is one overflowing at the expense of others. I endeavour to keep all the buckets reasonably full all the time, recognising there are times when some will be lower than others and that’s okay; time, effort and focus will correct the balance.
The four buckets allow me to take the thousands of things to do and categorise them. It makes things simple and more achievable. There is contentment in knowing your buckets are full. They provide stability, calm and most exciting of all – they provide an opportunity and a permission to go after what’s important to you.