Get Your Big Rocks In First

For today’s article, I’m going to start off with a timeless story which exemplifies the big idea I’m going to share. I’ve condensed the original story into its key essence, so please read it before continuing on. :)

Big RocksOne day a teacher was speaking to a group of students. He pulled out an extremely large jar and set it on a table. Then he produced about a dozen big rocks and placed them, one at a time, into the jar.

When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?”

Everyone said, “Yes.”

“Really?” he asked. “Let’s see.” He pulled out some gravel and dumped them in. He shook the jar, causing the pieces to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. He asked the students again, “Is the jar full?”

His class was catching on quickly. “Probably not,” one of them answered.

“Very good!” he replied. He then brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. When he was finished he asked again, “Is this jar full?”

“No!” the class shouted.

“Excellent!” he replied. Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and poured it in until the jar was filled to the brim. The students looked at jar which was totally full, then looked back at him.

The teacher looked intently back at the students and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?”

One student said, “You could always fit more things into your life if you really work at it.”

The teacher said “That’s true, but it’s not the point of this illustration”. He said, “The point is, if you don’t put the big rocks in first, …… would you ever have gotten any of them in?

Big rocks – these are what’s most important and valuable to you.

Big rocks are the same as your Quadrant 2 Tasks. They are your 80/20 destinations. They are in-line with your purpose. Big rocks are what truly matter to you in your life.

Without getting your big rocks in place first, they will never ever get in. You can be busy pandering around with the gravel, sand and water in your life (note – the peripheral, miscellaneous day-to-day activities) and your big rocks will always be left at a side, with no room left for them.

What are your big rocks in your life? Career? Love? Relationships? Wealth? Health? Spirituality? For each of these big rocks that you prioritize, are they in place?

  • Career: Are you pursuing your dream career?
  • Love: Are you in a relationship with the love of your life?
  • Relationships: Are you fostering strong bonds with important people in your life?
  • Wealth: Are you financially well?
  • Health: Is your health and fitness level in top status?
  • Spirituality: Are you attuned with your spiritual source?

If not, are you working to get them in place? Or have you totally neglected them?

If you do not consciously get to your big rocks, you are never going to get to them. Don’t push it to a ‘later’ or ‘next time’. Don’t wait and think the big rocks to fall in place by themselves. It’s not going to happen that way. There will always be space available in your life for the gravel, sand and water, no matter when or where. But for there to be space to place your big rocks, you need to deliberately make the decision to put them in first.

Start to consciously take action and get your big rocks in. Only then will you start seeing the big payoffs and rewards you desire in your life.

This is part of the Maximizing Productivity series. Be sure to check out the full series:



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  • http://jayfrawley.com Jay

    Great post Celes. I know deep down you are right, and I strive to become that guy who gets it done early. I find myself doing the opposite. I wake up, do some small things throughout the day and then at night 10pm or so I start to get going. It would probably be less stress to get it done quicker huh? Stumbled. Thanks Celes!

  • http://nutuba.blogspot.com nutuba

    Excellent article with a lot of wisdom and insight. This is well written and it is an enjoyable read. Nice job!

  • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

    Jay@ Thanks for your kind comments and thanks for the stumble! :D

    nutuba@ Thanks nutuba! :)

  • Keith

    This is a short, cute, and useful post. I enjoyed reading it. :)

  • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

    Keith@ That’s great to know! I enjoyed writing this post as well :) It’s simple and short but conveys the point very effectively :D