What do you love about your life? If it took you more than a few seconds to come up with an answer, I want you to consider whether you are living an overstuffed life — one filled with excess that is covering up, maybe even suffocating, what is most important to you.
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Have you heard of the story of the professor at a business school who had his students fill up mason jars with stones, pebbles, and sand?
Stephen Covey famously illustrated the story in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change.
Are You Focusing On What’s Most Important In Your Life?
In the story, an expert was speaking to a group of business students and pulled out a mason jar and some rocks. The expert carefully filled the jar up with rocks until he reached the top of the jar. Then the expert asked his students whether the jar was full.
Of course, they all agreed that it was full. But then the man pulled out some pebbles and poured them into the jar, and they settled in between the rocks.
This time, when the man asked the students if the jar was full, they were more hesitant and said probably not.
The man then filled the jar with sand and asked the same question, again the response was probably not.
Only when the expert added water to the jar so that it was completely full did they agree that it was full.
At that point, the man asked if anyone understood the point of this story. One student said that it meant that you could always add more things to your schedule. But the expert disagreed and told the class that the point of the story is that if you don’t put the big rocks in first, they’ll never fit in the jar.
Life’s Joy And Meaning Come From Prioritizing What’s Most Important
A speaker at my MOPS group had us perform a similar experiment. She brought us all mason jars, walnuts, and rice so we could each participate in the experiment. She asked us to think of the “big rocks” in our lives.
Immediately my husband and children came to mind. But after thinking about it a little more, I realized that I wasn’t focusing on the “big rocks” in my life.
This visual experiment forced me to acknowledge something I had been ignoring. I was filling my day with too much of the other stuff – the pebbles, sand, and water.
I wasn’t focused on the things that bring real joy to my life, like spending quality time with my husband and children, reading, writing, volunteering at church, and self-care. These are the things that bring joy and meaning to my life.
If I don’t bring these “big rocks” to the forefront of my life, they will never become a priority.
List Our Your Big Rocks And Start Putting Them In First
What about you? What are the big rocks in your life? What are the essential elements of your life that bring you joy and meaning? And are you putting your focus on these “big rocks” first? Or are the pebbles, sand, and water getting in the way of loving your life?
Spend some time today listing out your big rocks. Ask yourself if you’re putting them first. Don’t suffocate your life’s joy by putting the focus of your life on the pebbles, sand, and water. Start focusing on the big rocks first.
I’d love to hear how you prioritize the “big rocks” in your life. Please let me know in the comments section below.
With Love and Joy,