Way back in my previous life as a high school teacher, my mentor/teacher mom told me to keep a bucket. It didn't have to be an actual bucket. A large envelope, a paper bag, a file folder, a lunch box--any kind of container would do. Every time a student, parent, or other teacher wrote me a nice note or sent me a complimentary e-mail, I was to put it in the bucket. The bucket would become the collection of hope to get me through the ocean of crap that teachers must wade through to do their jobs.
I followed her instructions and kept a bucket. When I moved on from teaching, I took the bucket with me. When I began working in corporate America, I created another bucket: a secret file folder in my desk drawer. I carried that bucket with me from job to job. It was my reminder that even though corporate America sucks, there are good people and good times to be found there. I still have that file folder tucked away in a desk drawer in my home office.
When I became a freelancer, though, I stopped keeping a bucket. I'm not sure why. Being a freelancer can be just as frustrating and discouraging as any other job--with the added bonus of social isolation. You'd think a bucket would be a necessary tool. Apparently, I didn't. I forgot buckets of good things ever existed.
I was reminded by a link posted on Twitter. I read the post and thought, "What a great idea!" Two days later, I realized, "Hey! I used to do that!" (What can I say? My memory isn't what it used to be.) That was followed quickly by, "Why did I stop doing that?" and then, "I should do that again!"
Given the frustrations that seemed to dominate my 2013, 2014 seemed like the perfect time to revive the ol' bucket-of-goodness habit. I dug out a pile of personalized note paper from my years as a teacher, appropriated the dog's old treat jar (don't worry--he will still gets his treats, just not from a jar), and prominently displayed them in my living room. You know the idiom "out of sight, out of mind"? Well, if I don't SEE the bucket, I won't FILL the bucket.
I'm not limiting this year's bucket to work stuff, either. I want to fill it with positive progress reports on my journeys to health. I want to fill it with notes about finding what I'm seeking. I want to fill it with achievement after achievement on the road to accomplishing my dreams. I want to fill it with reminders that my life is more than my work, because it's all too easy for me to forget that little dictum. Of course, if I get any compliments or positive feedback related to my work life, I will put them in the jar too. Work is, after all, part of my life and should be represented. I just want that representation to be proportional in a healthy, balanced way.
Now here's where you come in. I invite you to keep your own bucket of good things for 2014, but really, I need you to remind me to READ all the good things in my bucket on December 31st. Maybe even blog the highlights. What do you say? Are you in?