Why We Should Put the Sand in First

The story about the rocks and sand in the jar has been travelling the Internet for a while now. If you haven’t heard it, the video is below. The lesson of the story is if you prioritize the small things first, you’ll never be able to fit the big things into your life.

Watch the video here

The rocks go in first, then the pebbles, and lastly the sand, with a touch of beer for good measure. It’s a good story about life, priorities and goals. If you don’t put the big rocks in first, the jar will just be filled with sand.

But did anyone notice how the sand so quickly infiltrates the jar and covers the rocks and the pebbles? Even when you pull the rock or pebble out, the sand still needs to be brushed off.

We all know what’s important in our lives and what’s not.

We all know what should come first — family, health, relationships.

And what should come last — the chores, the small tasks, the tiny insignificant details that cause us to go into mini tailspins.

Sand gets into EVERYTHING!

If you’ve ever been on a beach, it’s gorgeous. The sun glistening off the water, the feel of the warm sand between your toes.

We also shut all our bags, make sure food is covered up. We don’t think it’s a big deal at all, we just need to take care of it and make sure it doesn’t get into anything important.

We come home…and there’s sand everywhere! And we soon forget the beauty of the beach and instead spend our day cursing at every grain of sand we shake out of our clothes.

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”– Stephen Covey

The things on our schedule are important, that’s why we make it a point to keep track of them but what about the things that we “don’t have time for” or even left completely off our list?

The family dinners
The travelling
Starting our own business
The book we want to write

The routines, the chores, and the things we think must get done inch into every crevice of our lives and priorities. What we think is important gets top priority while the things we know should be our focus gets buried by the sand we bring into our lives.

The problem is not the sand

We will always have obligations, arguments with family and friends, chores and tasks that need finishing. We can’t get away from these. But what we can distance ourselves from is how much importance these have in our lives.

Are dirty dishes really worth the fight?
Is finishing up a task at work more important than the your kid’s school play?
Is fear enough for you to give up your dream?

Whatever we choose to focus on at that time is our priority. Our family feels it, our work feels it, our art feels it. It knows when our desire to make it work isn’t there, when our heart’s not in it because our head’s not in it.

Our priorities are defined by the choices we make. How much sand we pour over the rocks is up to us. If our rocks are fully covered already, maybe it’s time to dig out the rocks, clean them up and place them on top of the sand where they belong.

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Originally published at possiblepursuits.com on August 5, 2017.

Living life imperfectly and as creatively as possible.

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