Good Life Buckets is a simple framework created by entrepreneur and author Jonathan Fields, and outlined in his interesting book, How to Live A Good Life.
The framework “offers a way to look at the life you’re living, quickly and easily access what’s working and what’s not, and instantly know where to focus your energy to make things better; then it tells you what to do”. Sweet.
This post is a window into the seemingly simple yet transformational tool. I sneaked in a few of the resources he refers to in the book.
So, Good Life Buckets. Tell me more
There are three Good Life Buckets, according to the framework:
- Vitality bucket.
- Connection bucket.
- Contribution bucket.
Let’s start with vitality. This Good Life Bucket is all about the state of your mind and body.
Connection bucket is to do with your relationships. Contribution bucket is about how you contribute to the world.
The fuller our buckets, the better our lives.
When all the buckets are spilling over – well, things are pretty peachy. If any single Good Life Bucket is running dry, there is pain. Worse if two buckets are low.
One bucket can drag the other Good Life Buckets down. Also, the buckets leak. Have you heard the word ‘bucket’ enough yet?
There are endless ways to fill the Good Life Buckets, but there are ‘big levers’ – little things that’ll fill the buckets up most powerfully. The big levers are reproduced below.
Let’s look at your Good Life Buckets
When I rated myself, I was about even across the Good Life Buckets – possibly marginally lower in the connection bucket than the others, due to my lifestyle. This was reasonably enlightening, and I did notice some reactionary calling of friends back home after I had done this exercise!
This is a simple framework. But why make things harder than they need to be?
The Vitality bucket
Okay so the key ‘high lever’ exercises for keeping the Vitality bucket full. Are you ready? They are:
Mindfulness. Come on, don’t pretend you’re surprised. If you’re new to the practice and you want to be guided, here are Jonathan’s 5 minute and 15 minute audios. I wrote about how practicing mindfulness has changed my life here.
Diet changes. Ditto.
Doing whatever you can to reclaim your authenticity – and feel good in your own skin. Jon suggests dancing hell-for-leather.
Owning the unknown. Learning to distinguish facts from your story.
Take regular nature detours.
Develop a growth mindset. I wrote about how to do that here.
The Connection bucket
Fields’ suggestions for this:
Work out your social orientation – are you introverted, extroverted, or something in between? Fields recommends the test created by Susan Crain, author of Power of Introverts. Introverts apparently have more trouble owning their introversion. But if we don’t own it, then this bucket leaks.
Find your people. Consider the groups or activities where you might find the safety you need to be you, shared values and beliefs, shared sparks and common history/stories.
Practice a loving kindness meditation. Here’s a guided one by Jonathan.
Stage a ‘phonetervention’. Keep your phone in your pocket for 24 hours and leave your phone in another room during mealtimes. Try not to have a panic attack.
Do the 36 question experiment with someone you like or are romantically interested in.
Think about the four kinds of love. They are companionate, compassionate, attachment and romantic. Categorize your current relationships, and do something to deepen an existing one within the next 24 hours.
Consider what makes you feel ‘tapped in’. In other words, connected to something larger.
Create a list of the energy vampires in your life currently, and spend less time with them. Think about how you can improve the strength of your boundaries with these people. Make a similar list full of the fun people, and line up some dates with them!
Follow these tips to build on your conversation skills:
- Set an intention to give, not take.
- Give people your undivided attention.
- To be interesting, be interested.
- Lead with different questions to the usual droll. I like ‘what’s holding your interest these days?’
- Ask, listen, pause and ask.
- Notice what is not being said.
- Practice mindfulness.
You could also try learning the skills of Non-Violent Communication.
The Contribution bucket
Try to rediscover the things that genuinely spark your curiosity and interest. Consider what topics fascinate you, the activities that you can get lost in, the things you want to master and the person and/or communities that you secretly desire to help.
Write down your basic values from the list below. Then circle the top five of them. Put them into a sentence that gives them context and definition.
Use the list as a guiding point for working out whether, as opportunities present themselves through the day, they are going to move you closer to what you hold dear.
Read this guide to discovering your values in life.
Take the VIA survey of signature strengths (top 5) along with other character strengths (19 or more). Start thinking about the ways you can integrate them in your life.
Figure out your ‘killer app’. It’s the thing or things that you’re really, really good at. Could be a blend of natural talent and skill. Use StrengthsFinder 2.0 to do it.
Share an idea that you have been mulling over. It could be something you are thinking about creating.
Use the WOOP method (Identify a Wish; describe the Outcome; think about the potential Obstacles; detail a Plan for overcoming the obstacles) to approach a problem that you need a solution for. Here is a template you can use.
Do the Give 30 experiment. For one day, everytime you have the opportunity to give, to offer an act of kindness that will take you less than 30 seconds or cost you less than a dollar, do it.
Start saying no (because you can’t add a yes until you do). Think about a request currently being made of you to which the answer should be no, but you do not have the gumption to do it. Say no.
If you are currently in a job that you dislike, ask yourself some questions to see if you can change your perspective:
- if you had no choice but to do the work until it was done, what could be done to make it as enjoyable as possible?
- is there a bigger purpose to this work that I am not seeing or connecting to?
- what new responsibilities could I take on that would change the way I engage with this work?
- how can I build my non work life around what I do that allows me to frame it more positively?
Think about the kind of work that inspires you, and consider how you might pursue it in a way that leads to meaningful outcomes.
Good life buckets = simple but effective
I think that the Good Life Buckets is an excellent way to raise your awareness of the areas of life that aren’t working for you.
You probably do already know what those are in the back of your mind, but doing the Buckets exercise does have the effect of focusing the mind and intention.
Fields reminds us that change doesn’t always have to be complicated.