Back in the AOL days, stories would make their ways around the inboxes on the internet. One email, told the story of a professor who taught about time managment. He took an empty, wide-mouthed jar and put it on the desk in front of his lecture class. He then placed several large rocks into the jar and asked if the jar was full? The class agreed it was. Then, he took out a bag of pebbles and poured the pebbles into the jar, filling the jar to the top. He again asked if the jar was full. The class skeptically agreed it was. He then took a bag of sand and poured it into the jar. The sand settled between the pebbles and the rocks. The professor asked if the jar was now full. And the class, catching on, said, “no!”
“Right!” Said the professor as he took a jar of water and poured the water into the jar. “Is it full now?”
And the professor put the cap on the jar.
The Spirituality of Setting Priorities
The Professor then explained about the big rocks. He said that the big rocks were the priorities of a person, which should go into our lives first. For an artist, this should be time and attention to our art. For a student, the big rocks should be time to study. For a parent or a spouse, the priority should be time with our family. But whatever our priority turns out to be, it is we who gets to make the decision about what are the big rocks, what are the pebbles etc.
So, in essence, we are in control of our destinies, we are not controlled by outside forces. When we act in accordance with the priorities we’ve set, our lives align. Life isn’t “happening to us,” but rather, it is we who are choosing to make the unimportant into bigger rocks then they should be.
Back in the day when I was a professional musician. If someone wanted me to go have coffee with them, I usually went. Even if it interfered with my practicing, I still gave away my time to people who were not important to me. This would exhaust me and deplete my resources. What bad choices I made!
When I became aware of the theory and metaphor of the big rocks, I got more aligned with what was important to me. I began to say ‘no’ to others. It was difficult at first to do so. Then I came to understand that saying “no” to someone else was actually saying “yes” to me and my soul. This became a spiritual gift. I learned that saying yes to oneself, over the expectations of others, made being too busy into a myth indeed!
I’d love to hear what are your big rocks and how you came to realize how important they were.