BY JENNIFER MOCCIO
“The life you have left is a gift. Cherish it. Enjoy it now, to the fullest. Do what matters, now.” -Leo Babauta
“That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” -Steve Jobs
The term & meaning of the word ‘focus’ is a huge focus in my life, especially right now. One very unique, yet sometimes difficult skill to master is prioritization. It is THE thing you need, in order to balance many aspects of life. I call those that do this well = Master Jugglers. In the recent years, I do believe I’ve made significant progress toward Master Juggler status, as I’ve found organizing and prioritizing personal things, work, family, friends etc. much, much easier to do. With the juggle, comes the struggle to keep the stress in check, of course. You never want any of your “balls” to drop (giggles welcome). If you err on the side of the perfectionist personality (ehh hem 🙂 ) then developing the skill to prioritize is not only useful, it is essential. I truly believe that mastering this skill is the only way you’ll be able to keep your focus consistently on the MOST important things that matter. While discussing my thoughts on the subject of focusing & prioritizing with a very special person in my life, he mentioned an analogy that I’d never been privy to. Yes, I understood the overall concept; however it had never been explained to me in such an eye-opening way. Maybe some of my little nuggets have heard of the Rocks, Pebbles, and Sand story before, but I never had.
So, here goes!
If you take an empty jar and proceed to fill it with larger rocks, the jar will appear full. If you then take pebbles, pour them into the jar and lightly shake the jar, the pebbles, of course, will roll into the open areas between the rocks. The jar will still appear to be full. You then take a sack of sand and pour it into the jar. As you might have guessed, the sand fills up around everything else.
You must recognize the completely full jar as your life. The large rocks are the important things (family, significant other, health, and children etc – basically anything that is so important to you that if it were lost, you would be destroyed). The pebbles are the other things in life that matter, but on a smaller scale (job, house, and car). The sand is everything else—the small stuff.
The eye-opening lesson: “If you put the sand or the pebbles into the jar first, there is no room for the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your energy and time on the small stuff, material things, you will never have room for the things that are truly most important. Pay attention to the things that are critical in your life. 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 and fix the disposal.” -Anonymous
These words and the overall lesson here is crucial to understanding the concepts of focusing & prioritizing. You MUST focus on the ROCKS – the critical, can’t-live-without, need it in my life type of things. All of the PEBBLES & SAND are just secondary and should fall on the latter part of your priorities list. If you can successfully work toward recognizing all of the ROCKS in your life, you will be one step closer in focusing on what’s most important, and ultimately reaching happiness while we’re here on this earth.
Happy focusing, my friends!
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