Journaling Buckets

Chaos overlapping chaos in recent months has everyone’s idle running fast, news [and wine] consumption peaking and brain buzzing. Tension and shallow breathing are a default setting for many us. 2020 put everyone I know to the test.

One of the silver linings of these unprecedented times is a mellowing of people’s travel and social schedules. Journaling is catching on. Introspection and life/career reprioritization are trending. This short post will make your next few journaling sessions better regardless of your journaling tenure.

For the past ten years I’ve focused lots of my reflection/journaling on four major life aspects: Soul, Tribe, Capacity and Impact. BEing intentional in these four life/career buckets is a recipe for optimal living. Here’s a summary definition of each:

  1. Soul – Core values, inner gladness, intangible essence of life. Purpose aspect of life.
  2. Tribe – Social networks (family, friends, colleagues, all…). Connection aspect of life.
  3. Capacity – Health and growth (physical, mental and spiritual). Readiness aspect of life.
  4. Impact – Tangible goals, plans, actions, outcomes, recognition. Impact aspect of life.


Focusing attention on these life/career buckets in a general way is helpful anytime. Checkin’ in and free journaling about how life/work is going in each bucket helps. Here are some helpful simple prompts:

What are my core values? What can I do for my tribe right now? What am am I grateful or hopeful for? What would increase my capacity? Am I prioritizing the right things? What scalable impact can I pursue? What are my goals for___?

These four buckets become even more helpful contemplation lenses when you’re facing a specific life/career milestone, transition or decision. For example, if you’re considering a role at a new company, it helps to free journal about aspects of your prospective role and employer in all four buckets.

  1. Soul – What are their core values and purpose? What is your gut saying?
  2. Tribe – What is their culture like? Who will I be working with?
  3. Capacity – How do they prioritize health and well being for their people? Will I grow?
  4. Impact – What are their top objectives? Why is it important for them to win? How is success defined? What would succeeding in the role do for me/my family?


Reflection and writing in a confidential journal has fueled me for almost 30 years and helped me navigate the century’s second decade and a brutal 2020. Please let me know how these journaling buckets add value in your life/career journey. Happy 2021.

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Bryan Breckenridge