Filling Our Time With What Matters Most

One of my clients recently came in and expressed his feelings of overwhelm. He felt overcommitted at work, stressed at home, and generally confused. He said that he didn’t feel that there was any time left for him. I reminded him that to stay in balance, we can only give from the overflow. And I asked him: Would he be willing to try an experiment?

I asked him to imagine that he had in front of him a large jar, and some sand, water, pebbles and 3 big rocks. I told him that he had to fit everything into the jar, and then asked him, “what should you put in the jar first?” He thought for a moment and then said that he had to put the three big rocks in first, because he would never be able to fit them in if the other items went in first. Bingo!

If we don’t take care of ourselves by making sure that our “big rocks”- the most important activities and uses of our time- are in the jar first, we certainly won’t be able to take care of all the other people in our lives or the work that has to get done. And we probably will feel overwhelmed, resentful, stressed and/or confused. Some of the “big rocks” my clients talk about are:

  • Listening to music
  • Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Being in nature
  • Vitamins/nutritional supplements
  • Reading
  • Praying
  • Writing in a journal
  • Drawing/painting
  • Getting enough sleep, etc.

Notice that these are actions that you do on your own. And that after doing them, the benefits that you receive include feeling more balanced, more “yourself.”

What are your big rocks? What makes you feel good? What keeps you in balance? I encourage you to identify your three big rocks and practice them at least several times a week. Prioritization requires attention and discipline; when our activities reflect what’s most important to us then we can generously give from the overflow.