A professor in philosophy stood before his students with materials on the table in front of him. He picked up a very large and empty jar and filled it with rocks.
He then asked the students if the jar was full. They all said yes.
So the professor then picked up a bunch of pebbles and placed them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open spaces between the rocks.
He then asked the students again if the jar was full. And they all said yes again.
The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up the remaining spaces of the jar.
He then asked once more if the jar was full. All the students still said yes.
“Now,” said the professor, “I want you to think that this jar represents your life. The rocks are the important things – your family, your partner, your health, your children – things that if everything else was lost and only they are left, your life would always be full. The pebbles are the other things that matters – like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else, the unnecessary stuff.”
“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “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. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take your partner out dancing. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party, or fix the disposal.”
“Take care of the rocks first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”