Stepping off the hamster wheel #1

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So you’ve found yourself on the hamster wheel

You might be feeling a bit stuck or, worse still, you might feel like you are heading for burnout – not knowing for how much longer you are going to be able to keep going before you stumble and perhaps fall.

Something has to change and the sooner, the better.

Let’s take a look at your bucket!

Think about your personal wellbeing and energy reserve as a bucket!

Years ago, I read ‘How full is your bucket’ by Tom Rath and Don Clifton. This book introduces a very simple metaphor of a bucket representing your own personal energy reserve. When your bucket is full you feel great and when it is empty you feel absolutely terrible.

The bucket concept stayed with me over the years and is one that, as it turns out, I have explored in great depth in the past few years as I have sought to recover from a sustained period of burnout – one moment, one minute, one hour, one day at a time.

So, it works like this.

Think about a bucket as your source of energy and sense of wellbeing. There are things that fill your bucket – give you energy, make you feel positive, add value to your life…AND there are things that drain your bucket – sap your energy and vitality and leave you feeling depleted.

If your bucket is draining faster than it is filling, it is going to empty

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You can’t avoid drains on your energy – having to do things that you don’t like doing, difficult conversations, conflict, loss, grief, life…

But here’s the thing – if your bucket is draining quicker than it is filling, it’s going to empty.

And, my friend, living with an empty bucket is not a happy place to be!

If your bucket is draining you need to do two things:

  1. Stop the drain

  2. Build the in-flow.

If your in-flows and out-flows are about even, you have got to a place of balance and congratulations are in order. For you, it is important to:

  1. Monitor how you’re going

  2. Restore as needed

  3. Seek to grow some reserves for that rainy day that will inevitably come.

If you have ample reserves, I suspect you are not reading this blog :). If you are, well done and keep doing what you’re doing! Monitor how you’re going and restore as needed.

Time for analysis and ACTION

It’s now time to invest in you – just a few minutes of your time to think about your own bucket:

  • How are you feeling?

  • What are your fillers and drainers? (there’s a list below to get you started)

  • What could you do to increase the in-flow and decrease the drain?

  • What will you commit to doing today, tomorrow, the next day?

Now let’s start a conversation. I’d love to hear about your bucket – what are your fillers and drainers and what is one simple thing that you are going to change to increase the in-flow or stop the drain?

There is so much we can learn from each other and I expect that sharing with this community might even contribute to filling your bucket! I look forward to hearing your thoughts and I will, of course, respond personally to any questions you have :)

Choose YOU



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  • Having fun

  • Gratitude – feeling it, expressing it to others

  • Positive connections with others

  • Spending time with people you know well

  • Being pampered

  • Freedom

  • Socialising

  • Creativity

  • Sunshine

  • Fresh air

  • Nature

  • Holidays

  • Thoughtfulness

  • Kindness (from others and to self)

  • Love

  • Exercise

  • Success/achievements

  • Mindfulness, meditation

  • Being valued/acknowledged, appreciated

  • Being loved and being seen by others

  • Saying ‘No’

  • Setting boundaries

  • A sense of belonging

  • Sleep


  • Money worries

  • A run of bad luck

  • Unexpected things: accident, illness, crisis, death

  • Asking for help

  • “No”

  • People (energy vampires, negative, toxic, haters, takers, judgemental)

  • Conflict

  • Busy-ness

  • Kids

  • Too great a workload

  • Not enough time

  • Competing priorities/needs/demands

  • Change

  • Transitions

  • Moving

  • Responsibility

  • Work

  • Emotional impacts of work

  • Demands of family

  • Material things

  • Living situation