Rocks in a Jar

Jun 26, 2020

When I read the business news, it seems the predominant focus regarding corporations is financial results and announcements.

As expected, companies make decisions to invest in initiatives that provide the most immediate returns.

Many successful businesses are like individuals who post on Facebook.  They post the great things taking place in their “corporate lives.”

Immediate gratification is omnipresent – Advertisements, stocks, corporate results, etc.

With all this around us, is it any surprise that most of us spend our time and energy for short term achievements?

There is however a major difference between individuals and corporations.  As an employee you can build a product, close a sale, publish a paper, get promoted.   You invest time and energy and the returns can typically be seen in within months or a few years.

Now think of this in the context of your personal relationships, health, and other important matters.  The time you invest in your marriage, personal relationships and health, on a day to day basis, takes years to show its “results”

Many studies have found that it is personal relationships that provide enduring happiness.

Despite this, many people over-invest in their career and under-invest in family and personal relationships?

As individuals how we allocate our time shape’s our life strategy.

Have you heard this short story?

Philosophy professor standing in front of his class with a large empty jar, fills it with rocks and asks the students if the jar is full.

They respond yes.

He then fills it with pebbles which disperse amongst the rocks and asks again if the jar is full.

They respond that it is..

He then fills it with sand which disperses amongst the pebbles.

The jar represents your life.

The rocks are the most important things in your life (family, health).  If this were all you had, your life would still be full.  The pebbles represent the things that are important to your life but not critical (your job, your house, etc).  The sand represents the remaining filler things in your life such as social media, errands and other time fillers.

The metaphor is that if you start with putting sand in the jar you will not have room for rocks and pebbles.

The same goes for your life.

If you spend your time and energy on the small and insignificant things, you will never have room for the things that are truly important.

In order to have a more effective and efficient life, allocate your time and pay attention to the rocks first because they are critical to your long term well being and happiness.

How much thought have you given to the PURPOSE of your life?  

Keeping this purpose front and center for how your time and energy is allocated will result in long term happiness!

Are you allocating your time and paying attention to the things that are critical to your happiness?

Set your priorities.  Take care of the rocks first and the pebbles second.  Everything else is just sand….

Have a great weekend,


If you study the root causes of business disasters, over and over, you'll find this predisposition toward endeavors that offer immediate gratification.  If you look at personal lives through that lens, you'll see the same stunning and sobering pattern: people allocating fewer and fewer resources to the things they would have once said mattered most. Clayton Christenson, Harvard MBA Professor

Karl Choltus

Deep thinking Canadian sharing thoughts created in the shower.