What matters most
Key Idea

Put more energy into what you value most instead of things that don’t really matter.

What Matters Most

We fill our lives by putting energy and effort into what matters most to us.

There’s a popular demonstration to illustrate this idea called “Jar of Life.” A jar is filled with

  • big rocks (representing important things like family, health, and work),
  • little rocks (representing less important things like sports or hobbies), and
  • sand (representing unimportant things like watching television or social media).

When you fill the jar with the big rocks first, then the little rocks, and then the sand, everything fits in the jar. If you reverse the process and start with sand, then little rocks, then big rocks, not everything fits in the jar.

This process illustrates that when we fill our time with the most important things first, the little rocks and sand can be worked in. But, when our time is consumed by unimportant things, we run out of space for what really matters.

A twist on this idea is to exchange the big rocks for balloons. So, instead of trying to add more unimportant things into our jar, what if we decided to put more air into our balloons? In other words, what if we put more time, energy, and effort into the things that matter most? What happens when we stop jamming more unimportant sand into our life?

There’s nothing wrong with having some little rocks and sand in your jar. We need variety in our lives. We need opportunities to rest and rejuvenate so that when the time comes we can fully focus on what we value.

Focus on What You Value

Next time you’re feeling like you don’t have time to focus on what you value, ask yourself:

  • What are the critically important big rocks or balloons in your life?
  • Which is more fulfilling – putting more energy into what you value most, or putting energy into things that don’t really matter?
  • How could you invest more time and energy into your big rocks or balloons?
  • What unimportant sand could you remove from your life in order to invest more energy into your balloons?

Remember, when you feel like you’re falling short, or when there’s just not enough time in the day, don’t cram in more sand. Try putting more air in your balloons.