“There are years that ask questions, and years that answer.” Zora Neal Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
What wisdom Zora expressed in her 1937 novel and how timely it is for these last few days of 2020.
This month, we looked at bright spots in 2020, we looked at 20 things to be grateful for in 2020, and now we are creating momentum going into 2021. By looking at the bright spots as well as what we are grateful for, we start to uncover what is deeply important for us. And by figuring out what is really important to us, we can plan our lives and create habits that keep moving us in that direction.
A great tool to bring awareness to various areas of your life is the idea of a life bucket. This is taken from the idea of the Wheel of Life, which is a business coaching tool that was developed in the '60s. It's a way to help figure out what is most important to you (a.k.a., your values, your meaning, your purpose). It helps live your life intentionally rather than by default. After all, who hasn't spent hours scrolling/surfing/binge-watching mindlessly? By figuring out what is most important to us, we can guide our time towards what is most important.
Meaning & Purpose: Life Bucket Categories
Ask yourself: which four areas are the most important to you? There is no correct answer to this, and the importance in various categories can and will change throughout your life.
Some of these might be interconnected. For example, I have noticed that my physical environment affects my business/career, my creativity, and my relationships. Too much clutter makes it difficult to focus and come up with new ideas. I also get embarrassed to have people at my house when there is too much clutter (I know that people are there to see me, not my stuff, but that's just where I am at this point in my life)!
Once you choose your buckets, then ask yourself these questions regarding each bucket:
Why is this important?
Where was I one year ago (at the end of 2019)?
Where am I now (at the end of 2020)?
Where do I see myself in 2021?
Turning your Purpose Into Action
By looking at what is important, you bring awareness to how you are spending your time. And chances are, you will want to spend more time on what is important to you. Here are some questions to help craft a daily action plan:
Are there gaps between where you are and where you want to be or who you are and who you want to be?
What are some small (even microscopic) things you can do on a daily basis?
Where do you need to make small adjustments in your life?
What has worked for you in the past (even in other buckets)?
If we start doing something daily, even something small, we can start to create momentum in our lives toward better health, better finances, better relationships, better balance.
Example of How This Might Work
Let's look at one of my four buckets: health.
Gaps: I feel like the biggest gap in my health is energy throughout the day to do and move as I want. When I eat too many sugary foods, my energy wanes by the end of the day. I also feel like a lack of energy keeps me from moving like I want to.
Daily basis: one sugar instead of two in a cup of coffee. Don't eat in the car (this is a bad habit that I have).
Small adjustments: Build in a treat or two through the course of a week (rather than as an unplanned, daily, mindless habit).
Worked in the past: "paying" myself first with my time by waking up early before other interruptions get in the way. Also, having someone to whom I am accountable (and who tells me to let the guilt go).
This isn't about overhauling your life! Instead, it's bringing awareness and simple, gentle action to shift your life. As you reflect back on this exercise in the coming year, it's okay to reassess and make adjustments! And you may find that 2021 is a year that asks questions or is the year that answers!