Have You Forgotten Your Big Rocks?

Lately, I’ve been reminded from many different sources that you have to decide what’s most important in your life and prioritize those things. Put them in your schedule. Give them the honor of being your most important things. It doesn’t matter whether those things include people, your health, your faith, experiences you want to have, your career, your business or anything else. The point is that those things are important to you and should be afforded priority in your life. Stephen Covey tells the following story of the “Big Rocks” of life to illustrate why this is critical: 

Big Rocks

“One day this expert was speaking to a group of business students and, to drive home a point, used an illustration I’m sure those students will never forget. After I share it with you, you’ll never forget it either.

As this man stood in front of the group of high-powered over-achievers he said, “Okay, time for a quiz.” Then he pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed mason jar and set it on a table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar.

When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?” Everyone in the class said, “Yes.” Then he said, “Really?” He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks.

Then he smiled and asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?” By this time the class was onto him. “Probably not,” one of them answered. “Good!” he replied. And he reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?”

“No!” the class shouted. Once again he said, “Good!” Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked up at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?”

One eager beaver raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!”

“No,” the speaker replied, “that’s not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”

What are the big rocks in your life? A project that you want to accomplish? Time with your loved ones? Your faith, your education, your finances? A cause? Teaching or mentoring others? Remember to put these ‘Big Rocks’ in first or you’ll never get them in at all.”

Stephen Covey

What I’m doing next

It’s easy to forget what’s important when life becomes busy, overwhelming and chaotic. Every task and activity seems like it takes priority, and we lose sight of why we’re doing what we’re doing. So, what I plan to do next is to carve out time to sit with the questions of “What do I want from my life?” and “What are my big rocks?” This isn’t something I can do on a whim – I have to set aside dedicated time to do this soul-searching. It just so happens that one of my big rocks, vacation/travel, has stayed a priority for me, so I will do this deep work during my upcoming vacation.

When will you take the time to remember your big rocks? Comment and let me know!