One day in class a philosophy professor picked up a large empty jar and proceeded to fill it with small rocks. He then asked his students if the jar was full? They unanimously agreed that the jar was full. Then the professor picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks. He then asked his students again if the jar was full. They unanimously agreed that the jar was full. Then the professor picked up a bag of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.
“Now,” the professor said, “I want you to recognize that this is your life. The rocks are the important things: your family, your partner, your friends, your health, your children, and things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else. If you put the sand into the jar first, there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.”
Many years ago a great friend told me this story called Rocks in the Jar. The story can be found on the internet and is told in slightly different versions but all with the same main message.
When we are working towards a goal or dream we know it takes focus, hard work and grind to get there but it’s also easy to think it’s the sand that we need in order to succeed. The small stuff. We think we need x, y and z to get there. We can’t start until we have all the ducks in a row. We need more money. We live in the wrong house. We need a new computer. If we didn’t have to work we would have the time. It’s the weather. Someone else is already doing it. We need a business loan.
Or, we think it’s too late to work on our dream because we filled the jar with the wrong things and re-doing it will be too much work. But that’s the great thing about the jar. We can decide to empty it, rearrange it and refill it. We can make changes to our life. We can work on the rocks and make sure that no matter what, they are what makes our life full. We can make sure the pebbles are right for us and don’t take way from the rocks. We can make sure that the sand we use is enhancing our rocks and pebbles instead of making them look hidden or dull.
I hope that this story helps you focus on building the best jar you can. And, if you think your jar has to be perfect before you can work on your dream or that it is too late to fix it, change your mindset. It is never too late! Start fixing your jar today. Start working on your dream today. Just remember to fill you jar with rocks first, then pebbles, and then sand.
What is holding you back from fixing your jar or starting on your dream?
Karin Tegeman says
Great post! I can really relate to that story. The last couple of months it feels like I have been emptied my jar of many of the things in it. And now I’m putting new things in there, in the right order, building my best jar 🙂 Thanks for the reminder!
Thanks! I love that you are rebuilding your jar to make it the best it can be. I know it will be amazing!