A teacher once stood before his class with a large empty jar. As the students looked on with curiosity, he proceeded to fill it with rocks from a box by his side. He then asked the class if the jar was full. The students nodded that it was.
The teacher then picked up a handful of pebbles from another box and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open spaces between the rocks.
The teacher again asked the class if the jar was full. The students agreed it was.
Next the teacher picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. The sand filled up whatever gaps remained inside the jar. When he asked the class once more if the jar was full, the students unimously replied, “Yes”.
“Now,” said the teacher, “I want you to understand that this jar represents your life. The rocks are the really important things – your family, your health, your responsibilities, your great work, your mission in life – 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 – your current job, your house, your car, your insurance policy. The sand is everything else, the small things.”
“If you put the sand into the jar first,” the teacher continued, “there is no room for the rocks or the pebbles. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on small things, you will never have room for the things that matter, things that are important to you.
“Pay attention first to the things that are critical to your happiness. Spend time with your family. Play with your children. Do work that gives meaning to your life. Have a noble mission. Connect with your inner self. Learn what life has to teach in the truest sense. There will always be time to clean the house, call your friends over for dinner, or fix your car.”
“Take care of the rocks first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”