As the start of the new year is a traditional time to plan for the year ahead, here is a little story to help you think what is important for you to focus on in 2009:
One day, an old professor was invited to lecture on the topic of “Efficient Time Management” in front of a group of 15 executive managers representing the largest, most successful companies in America. Standing in front of this group of elite managers, who were willing to write down every word that would come out of the famous professor’s mouth, the professor slowly met eyes with each manager, one by one, and finally said, “we are going to conduct an experiment”.
The professor pulled out a big glass jar and placed it on the table in front of him. Next, he produced a bag of stones, each the size of a tennis ball, and placed the stones one by one in the jar.
He did so until there was no room to add another stone in the jar. Lifting his gaze to the managers, the professor asked, “Is the jar full?” The managers replied, “Yes”.
The professor paused for a moment and replied, “Really?”
Once again, he reached under the table and pulled out a bag full of pebbles. Carefully, the professor poured the pebbles in and slightly rattled the jar, allowing the pebbles to slip through the larger stones, until they settled at the bottom. Again, the professor lifted his gaze to his audience and asked, “Is the jar full?”
At this point, the managers began to understand his intentions. One replied, “apparently not!”
“Correct”, replied the old professor, now pulling out a bag of sand from under the table. Cautiously, the professor poured the sand into the jar. The sand filled up the spaces between the stones and the pebbles.
Yet again, the professor asked, “Is the jar full?”
Without hesitation, the entire group of students replied in unison, “NO!”
“Correct”, replied the professor. Next, as was expected by the students, the professor reached for the pitcher of water that was on the table, and poured water in the jar until it was absolutely full. The professor now lifted his gaze once again and asked, “What great truth can we surmise from this experiment?”
With his thoughts on the lecture topic, one manager quickly replied, “We learn that as full as our schedules may appear, if we only increase our effort, it is always possible to add more meetings and tasks.”
“No”, replied the professor. The great truth that we can conclude from this experiment is:
If we don’t put all the larger stones in the jar first, we will never be able to fit all of them later.
The auditorium fell silent, as every manager processed the significance of the professor’s words in their entirety.
The old professor continued, “What are the large stones in your life? Health? Partner? Family? Friends? Your goals? Doing what you love? Fighting for a Cause? Taking time for yourself?”
What we must remember is that it is most important to include the larger stones in our lives, because if we don’t do so, we are likely to miss out on life altogether. If we give priority to the smaller things in life (pebbles & sand), our lives will be filled up with less important things, leaving little or no time for the things in our lives that are most important to us.
Because of this, never forget to ask yourself,
What are the Large Stones in my Life? Once you identify them, be sure to put them first in your “Jar of Life”.
I would love to hear how you get on in deciding your ‘large stones’ for 2009. Of course, if you would like some expert help in creating your goals for this year, please ask me for an initial goal-setting session.
This 90 minute ‘taster’ coaching session is free of charge for new clients and you will find out how I can help you get what you want!