What are the things that are important to you in life? How do you manage them? Do you give them all your attention or you just watch them go by each day? I saw this piece again today and it hit me deep. You may have seen this before but I want you to read it carefully. A professor stood before his class with some items on the desk in front of him. When the final student was seated, he picked up a large and empty glass bottle and proceeded to fill it with rocks…about 2″ in diameter.

He then asked the students if the jar was full. They all agreed that it was full. He then picked up a box of pebbles and added them to the jar shaking it lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open area between the rocks.  “Is the jar filled now?” The professor asked. “Yes”, the students said. But then he picked up a bag of sand and poured it into the bottle. The sand filled in everything else. Once more he asked if it was full and after some thinking they said that it was.

The professor then took two bottles of water from a bag at the side of the desk and opening them both, he poured their entire contents into the jar. The students roared at this demonstration. After the laughter subsided, the professor spoke: “I want you to recognise that this jar represents your life. The rocks are the important things in your life – your family, your spouse, your children, your friends, your spouse etc. These are things that if everything else was lost and only them remained, your life would still be full.

So, how do you treat these set of people in your life? Do you neglect them and let your work get into spending quality time with them? The kind of your investment into these set of people will determine what you would be able to take out when you need them most. Your starting point will be to identify who this set of people are in your life and make a conscious effort to invest in them. If you are married and have children, your spouse and children automatically falls into this. Then, you can identify others and make a commitment to sow into their lives.

The pebbles are the other things that matter – your business, your job, your house, your car etc. The sand is everything else. The small stuff. If you put the sand into the jar first, there will be 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.

Start to pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Cultivate the relationship with your spouse. Believe me, you will always find time to go to work, clean the house, rewire the lamp, fix the car. Focus on taking care of the rocks first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities right. The rest is just sand.