Yesterday, on my Facebook feed, I watched a video from Meir Kay - it was the well-known “Life Rocks” story. In case you missed it, here it is… Or if you don’t have time to watch it, I have provided a synopsis after the video!
“A professor is addressing his class. He fills a jug with big rocks and asks the class if it’s full. The class responds with a “Yes”. So, he adds pebbles to the jug. He asks again if the jug is full, and again the class responds, “Yes”. He says, “No” and now adds sand to the jug.
The sand and the pebbles represent the small daily tasks we fill our lives with. If we don’t fit our big rocks in first, our lives will fill with only sand and pebbles. BUT if we start with our big rocks, we create room for what’s important in life - and the sand and pebbles can only fill the spaces in between.”
It’s a fantastic analogy for our lives and a great starting point to take a look at everything we have going on – and what we spend our time on!
So, how do you know what the big rocks are in your life?
Now it’s time for a mini-coaching exercise...
Grab a pen and paper (or journal if you use one) and list your big rocks.
Some will likely come easily to you – family, friends, career or business – but over time, and particularly post-children these rocks will change. They will change to the point you may remove one or two big rocks and not replace them. This is one of our biggest challenges as parents – fitting in the big rocks that are important to us, but have no “tangible” benefit to our family.
You know the ones I’m talking about – playing a sport, making time for fitness, being creative, attending dance classes – all those things that light up our hearts and make us who we are. The extra things we do that bring us joy, fulfilment and happiness.
Were these types of activities once big rocks for you? Are they are big rocks in your life now?
If your answer to the second question was a “NO”, do you want them to be a big rock for you?
If they are – add them to your list!
Take a moment to review your list – how many big rocks do you have? While there is no “right” number, you will probably find yourself overwhelmed if you listed more than 5-7. If your list is any greater, I will actually be very bold and suggest maybe some of those “big rocks” may be pebbles. The pebbles are still important, but not the primary focus of our time and effort – they are an occasional thing that if we had to leave off the list wouldn’t have a detrimental impact to our joy, happiness and fulfilment.
Next, it’s time to number these big rocks to give them a priority – 1 for most important through to 5-7 for least important. The purpose of giving them a priority order is to help you make decisions about where and when to invest your time and energy.
Now it’s time to reflect on your list, and your priorities.
Take a moment to answer the following questions:
How does your current focus of time and energy compare to the priority order of your big rocks, i.e. your real priorities?
Are there some big rocks on your list that you currently do not give any time or attention?
What does this highlight for you?
Did you discover any insights or experience any “ah-ha” moments? Or perhaps this exercise confirmed everything you already knew, but haven’t had the time to reflect upon?
The first step to being able to focus on your real priorities is to become aware of what those priorities are – which is what you have just done. Once you are aware, you will begin to notice the times you aren’t aligned with your real priorities and have the opportunity to make a choice in how you invest your time and energy.
I know, it isn’t always that simple, and as a mama of three boys, wife and business owner – I completely get it! My time and energy isn’t always 100% aligned with my real priorities either, but I am always working towards creating the balance that is right for me, and my family.
Remember, it’s okay to be a work-in-progress – embrace it!
I am a big believer in incremental steps to create lasting change, so I simply recommend bringing your real priorities into awareness and noticing how you typically spend your time and energy.
I’ll be back next week with the next incremental step that will help you to identify the tangible changes you can make to bring more alignment with your real priorities.
Until next time...