Work / life balance or empty Cups?

20/08/2019 12:21:46

        Honey light filters through the windscreen and warms Mary’s white knuckles that cling to the steering wheel. Sitting out front of the office where she has worked for the past six years, a familiar unease rests in her belly. It is the same knot in her stomach she feels every morning lately as she pulls up into her parking space.

‘Why do I even work here?’ she thinks to herself, gazing at the red brick in front of her. ‘I mean, what am I doing with my life? Every day I live the same old routine, and every day it gets harder and harder.'

Just like an elusive dream, the more Mary tries to recall how excited she once was about this role, the further it seems to go. She has only a vague recollection of the accomplishment and joy she once felt. She can’t even remember what it feels like now to wake up in the morning and not dread getting out of bed.

Mary is clearly burning out.

Mary has empty Cups!

There could be numerous reasons why Mary’s Cups are empty. The workplace structure might be emptying her Freedom Cup. The lack of progression or challenge might be emptying her Mastery Cup. The superficial relationships with co-workers might be emptying her Connection Cup. The day to day monotony might be emptying her Fun Cup. And how reliant she is on her wage might be emptying her Safety Cup.  

What Mary needs to do is develop the skills to identify and fill each Cup effectively. Therefore, Mary needs a Cup filling plan, and fast!

As part of Mary’s Cup filling plan, she will need determine her unique Phoenix Cup’s Profile (the sizes of her Cups), and then look at ways she can effectively fill them in the workplace without affecting the rights and needs of others. 

Something else Mary might want to consider is how she might fill her Cups outside of the workplace. If she begins her day with full Cups, she will be far more resourceful, then if she starts the day with Cups that are already nearly empty. Mary will need to ensure she is Cup filling in her personal life.  

Along with the Cup filling plan, what Mary also needs to acknowledge is that often when we suffer burnout (empty Cups), we blame the job. Although this can be the case, often, however, it isn’t the job so much that has changed, it is our perspective which has. Like a new outfit that we once adored, and now sits idle in our closet. We must realise that it is not always external things which make us feel a certain way, it can be our thoughts about those things. Therefore, the way we think about things, changes the way we feel about things, and the way we feel about things can determine how full or empty our Cups are. So how do we change our thoughts and judgements about the workplace as to not empty our Cups? To begin with, we need to think more realistically. I think it is unrealistic to think that you can love every aspect of your job, or any other part of your life. Over time we start to pay more attention to the parts that annoy us, even mentally tallying them up, whilst simultaneously not giving enough attention and respect to the parts we admire. Our judgements then are formed around what we choose to focus on. Therefore, as part of Mary’s Cup filling pan, she will need to pay attention to her thoughts, and ask herself if they are Cup filling or Cup emptying. 

After nearly every keynote or workshop I meet a Mary, and one of the inevitable questions I get asked is “Tell me what I can do to fill my Cups?” My answer is almost always, “I have no idea.” This is simply because the behaviours and choices one person may choose to fill a certain Cup, may be completely different from another person who may also have that same dominant Cup. This is why you need to come up with your own unique Cup filling plan, that relates to you and your unique Cups profile. Except a holiday to Bali. Bali will fill your Cups 😊  


By Christopher Phoenix

B. Plan (Hons)

Co-author of The Phoenix Cups: A Cup Filling Story

The Phoenix Cups Book

Delve deeper into The Phoenix Cups and discover the philosophy behind every day behaviours. A life-altering experience that will open your eyes and change your perspective of why people interact the way they do, how their needs not being met affect their behaviour, and what you can start doing to live a fulfilling life.