Wendy's Wellness Wisdom - The 5 Buckets Principle

You can have it all! National work/life balance expert Wendy Kaufman introduces you to the Five Buckets Principle to get you started on a happier, healthier more successful life.

Welcome! I am so glad to be sharing my thoughts with you in this space on work/life balance which has been a passion of mine for over 25 years.  I will be asking and urging you to ponder how balanced your life is.  I will be using real life examples, asking real life questions and looking at real life dilemmas to help people live more full and complete lives. 

Let me introduce you to my 5 Buckets Principle - Life is full when you fill all your buckets equally. So you can have it all!  At first glance, the five buckets may not appear to cover all aspects of everyone's life.  But they do, they are universal and complete and applicable in some way to all our lives.  My more than 20 years in the work/life balance field as coach and trainer combined with some real life science, has shown me that each of these buckets is as important as the other.  Let's examine each bucket one by one.

Work - This bucket includes the kind of schedule you have, what you do for work paid or not paid; in an office, at home or a non-traditional work setting.  It includes your career goals.

Spouse/Family & Friends -This bucket considers who is in your social sphere.  Research has shown that hermits live shorter lives than those in relationships.  This is where you ask yourself am I prioritizing my "loved ones" in the right manner.

Health - Do you take care of yourself, have your annual checkups, know what your healthy numbers are like weight, blood pressure and cholesterol? - Are you doing all you can to be healthy?

Finances - Big Bucket for everyone! Do you live in fear of foreclosure, which believe it or not, in a recent study was shown to be a major concern of many people in the last few years.  Do you know your credit score? Have you made time to make a personal budget?

Giving Back - An often overlooked bucket -this is about looking beyond yourself.  To paraphrase Victor Frankel, from his book Man's Search for Meaning- those who give more are more successful.  (Incidentally this book was listed as one of the Ten most influential books in the world.) The more you give the more you get.

I encourage and urge individuals to focus on filling each bucket to about 80%.  Why only 80?? If we go over, we have the tendency to fill one at the expense of another.  It goes hand in hand with the Pareto Principle - it is not beneficial to spend your energy on perfecting the last 20% of anything -No perfectionism is allowed here!!! Just good enough is good enough,  my nickname is "perfectly imperfect".

Let's take a client "Chris" as an example who came to our seminar and said - "I built a successful business, the revenues are growing every year. I thought I would be happy, but I am miserable." After looking at Chris' situation I realized his Work and Finance buckets were overflowing.  Further discussion revealed the empty buckets: his health was compromised becasue he had gained 50 pounds, his family and friends were absent from his life and he was completely unconnected to his community.  He asked, "What business book can I read to get my life back?"...The answer is this is not in a book -what I suggested to him and others like him are: don't hit the snooze button, get out of bed, get on the scale and start your day with some cardio or exercise.  Have a family breakfast -talk to your family instead of just running out the door.  Make choices.  Change.

Another CEO that I coach complains that she has no relationship with her teenage daughter.  First she rationalizes that it is because her daughter is a teenager and that all teenagers are like that.  Then she had to admit that she has not been around much, missed several events at her daughter's school, and used inappropriate sarcasm one too many times.  She needs to look at her day to day schedule (including weekends and nights) and reprioritize her daughter's events - apologize for the mistakes that have occured and moved on.  My suggestion was to get a family calender and mark in red important "can't miss" family events.  We are not saying you have to go to every soccer game but you should not miss those things that are of paramount importance to your family.

Six months later I am happy to report that not only is this CEO's relationship with her daughter better, but her work atmosphere has become more pleasant.  She is not thinking about losing her daughter all the time anymore.

Finally find a charity organization that is near and dear to your heart and volunteer once a month.  Even recently in my own life, my dad had a heart attack and I took two months off from every bucket except family.  I concentrated on my "what needed to be done" and doing it.  Now I can re-visit all the buckets, get back to the gym, attend networking meetings, go to a Broadway show with my husband and still have time to see my parents as well as volunteer for a new committee for the not-for-profit Board that I am on.  This is a prime example of how important it is to prioritize the 5 buckets of your life on a regular basis.

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