You’ve probably heard of that famous story that emphasizes the importance of prioritizing what’s in your life. If you aren’t familiar with it, you can read it here:
A philosophy professor stood before his class and had some items in front of him. When class began, wordlessly he picked up a large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks right to the top, rocks about 2″ diameter. He then asked the students if the jar was full? They agreed that it was. So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them in to the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks. The students laughed. He asked his students again if the jar was full? They agreed that yes, it was. The professor then picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. “Now,” said the professor, “I want you to recognize that this is your life. The rocks are the important things – your family, your partner, your health, your children – anything that is so important to you that if it were lost, you would be nearly destroyed. The pebbles are the other things in life that matter, but on a smaller scale. The pebbles represent things like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else. The small stuff. If you put the sand or the pebbles into the jar first, there is no room for the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your energy and time on the small stuff, material things, you will never have room for the things that are truly most important. “Take care of the rocks first – the things that really matter.”
One of the most interesting perspectives of this story is the last couple sentences:
If you put the sand or the pebbles into the jar first, there is no room for the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your energy and time on the small stuff, material things, you will never have room for the things that are truly most important. “Take care of the rocks first – the things that really matter.
It’s crazy to me that we allow ourselves to spend majority of our energy and time on things that truly do not matter at the end of the day. I’m talking about the extra long hours at work, the doomscrolling through twitter, and even reading this blog post. The thing is, normal life doesn’t stop. The small rocks and sand continue to pile up in our jars like a Tetris game where we’re trying to clear through them just to get to our reward; the big rocks.
The question is, do you put these big rocks aside or do you find an easier path to them? This pandemic has accelerated many aspects of our seemingly normal lives. For example, high achievers are on the edge of exhaustion yet their impulse is to work even harder. The only way out for them is to work through it all as it’s the only path that’s known to them. Is there a solution to this? Let’s explore.
Fatigue is fatal
It’s hard to really know whether or not you’re fatigued. Being fatigued can make you even believe you’re not fatigued when on the outside it’s obvious you’re not operating at full capacity. Battling fatigue is challenging and mostly means being proactive about filling up your physical and mental willpower tank regularly with food, water, exercise, sun, rest, and more.
Decluttering your mind
There’s constant work in our heads of things that never found a resolution or closure. How do you close the loops on these things that sit in your mind rent-free? It seems that our grudges, regrets, and traumas of our pasts tends to clutter our minds more and more everyday. How do you take action within your locus of control to have the uncomfortable conversations and say the things that are left unsaid?
Enjoying the moment
Every minute you spend worrying about the future or regretting the past is another minute lost. Much of the pain we endure in enjoying our big rocks is caused by ourselves. Our anger, sadness, inaction, or even rationality stems from our inability to let go of the things we cannot change. Knowing what we can and cannot change can be the difference of enjoying the moment.
Proactive problem solving
Many problems occur because of repetitive inaction until a breaking point. We tend to know exactly what causes the very problems we have & we allow it to pile up because we delay doing each day.
Procrastination is a double-edged sword. It can be waiting for the right time or just putting things off depending on how you see it. The challenge is that only certain things can be digested for the right time such as ideas and creative endeavors. Other things like balancing your work is not something you can put off.
The inability to make decisions causes us future pain. Just making a decision based on your gut tends to be the right answer anyway, so don’t dwell making the perfect decision. There’s no such thing as a good decision at the time of deciding.
Too many choices is a bad thing. Simplifying your choices or not having a choice can tend to serve you well.