Contribution, Connection, Vitality – What Bucket Are You Neglecting?

Time is the #1 excuse for not exercising and discipline is the #1 reason for stopping. Which is sad when you recognize that (in most cases), this behavior stems from the false belief that exercise should focus on “burning calories.” And thus, requires excessive amounts of steady-state aerobic activity (aka cardio).

We won’t get into why “cardio” doesn’t work for weight loss, and why it’s worse for your long-term health and longevity (as we’ve already done plenty of that in the past). But what we will mention, is that the exercise you should be doing doesn’t take much time or discipline at all; especially when it’s accompanied by a healthy diet and lifestyle. It simply comes down to making it a priority.  Or what Jonathan Fields refers to in his recent book “How to Live a Good Life,” making regular contributions to the VITALITY bucket!


In fact, Jonathan’s 3-bucket concept is what sparked this post, and what I wanted to share with you today. As it really spoke to me (when I first heard about it on a recent Pat Flynn podcast), and it seems like an excellent assessment tool for helping ensure you accomplish your goals while still living a balanced (or “good”) life.

Basically, it involves classifying your time as Contribution, Connection or Vitality, thinking of each one of those categories as a bucket, and doing your best to keep them topped up consistently. With Contribution referring to making money, working, etc. Connection representing relationships with friends and family. And Vitality including both mental and physical performance.

Now, as you may’ve guessed, most people are not good at maintaining all 3 buckets. For instance, I know I’m guilty of prioritizing contribution and vitality over connection; and many of you reading this are overflowing with contribution and connection, yet have no vitality bucket in sight.


Obviously, neither situation is favorable. Though what’s disturbing, is that many times there’s no obvious signs of neglect (with connection or vitality), until it’s already too late – no friends, bad health, divorce, whatever.  This is why Jonathan recommends doing a quick assessment of your buckets on a daily basis, and acting accordingly. Whether that’s calling an old-friend because your connection bucket is dwindling, or going for a walk because you realize you’ve been sitting in front of a computer overflowing your contribution bucket all day!

Keeping in mind, of course, that vitality is as much about not doing, as it is about doing. Which could mean hitting the sauna, meditating, or taking a nap as opposed to exercising or adding more stress. And also keeping in mind that you can fill more than one bucket at a time. Like going for a walk with a friend.


In any case, it’s all about investing in all 3 of your buckets now, to ensure you’re still operating with all 3 in the future. Because lets face it, there’s nothing “good” about a life lived with an empty bucket; no matter how much you fill the other ones.

Stay Lean (and balanced)!
Coach Mike


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