How Full is Your Bathtub?

Imagine that water is flowing into a bathtub at a set rate from the tap, but there is no plug in the plughole, so water is also flowing out of the bathtub at the same rate.  How long will it take for the bathtub to fill or empty? In theory the more water we can put into the bathtub, the more it will fill up.

This is a metaphor of the image of encouragement/discouragement that Dr Jane Goodman of Oakland University, Michigan discussed in a webinar on Navigating Career Transitions that she delivered recently for the Career Industry Council of Australia.

The whole world is currently in transition, our lives have and continue to change in response to the impact of COVID-19. From the way imports/exports are affected to how we travel, our daily and work routine to meeting up with friends are a few examples of how not only our work but also personal transitions are greater than ever before.

So, what does a bathtub metaphor have to do with transitions?

When we are in transition, it is really important to surround ourselves with people and support networks who fill up our bathtub, and limit some of the exposure of people and things that drain or discourage us (you know the kind of people who make comments such as “why would you do that?” “that’s not something you can do”, “you tried once and failed, I wouldn’t try it again”).

You might not be able to isolate yourself from them particularly if they are key members in your life, but look for ways in which you can insulate yourself, and look for more places where you can get encouragement. Perhaps it might be for example a book club. Providing encouragement during a transition is something a Career Practitioner can do.

A very good friend who worked together with me previously also attended the webinar. As soon as it finished we were on the phone to each other, and she said “that was you in the bathtub, struggling to keep the water filling up whilst being drained by my then husband as well as the toxic work environment”. She then went on to say that as soon as I had removed myself from those situations, my life and physical health started to improve as my bathtub filled up.

She also said that the biggest contributor to helping me fill my bathtub was a person from Germany who I met on a flight back home last March, who despite only meeting them for a very brief moment in time, was pivotal in helping me move forward with my life, and believing in myself again. Since then I have continued to surround myself with positive connections and limit the negative influences in my life.

For me, this last week has found me with an additional level of support in the form of Oscar the adorable furrball that I have been looking after for a friend, although he does like to interrupt my course readings time

Who helps you fill up your bathtub?

Photo by Belle Co on

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