Have you been filling your
life with sand?

If you have ever taken a time management class, you might have heard “the aquarium story.” It goes something like this.

A life coach come on to the stage with a large aquarium and silently begins filling the aquarium with large rocks, until not another rock can fit. The life coach looks out at the audience and simply asks, “Is it full?” To which the audience usually responds, “Yes, it’s full.”

With a knowing smile, the life coach then pulls out a bucket of gravel and begins pouring it into the aquarium until it fills in all the cracks between the rocks. Again he asks the audience, “Is it full?” This time the audience is not so sure, some yell “yes'” and some yell “no.”

His smile deepens as he pulls out a bucket of sand and begins pouring it into the aquarium until it fills in every crack. He asks the audience again, “Is it full?” The response becomes even less sure.

With a knowing nod, he pulls out a bucket of water and begins pouring it into the aquarium until it nearly pours over the top. He then asks the audience, “What’s my point?”

“Huh,” thinks the audience, “I wasn’t expecting that question.”

The life coach then goes on to explain that the rocks represent the important things your life; the gravel represents the daily tasks that must be done; the sand represents the non-important things that intrude into your life; and the water represents all the things that people throw at you daily.

Consider what would have happened if he had started by filling the aquarium with water. Would he have been able to get even one important rock in without making a huge mess? Or what if he had filled the aquarium with sand before trying to fit in a rock? Again he would have had an exhausting mess.

So here is the point. Most of us fill our days with water,  sand, and gravel, so that we never find room for the rocks; those thousand things that are important to creating a fulfilling and worthwhile life for ourselves and those we love.

If you want to build a worthwhile life, you need to load the rocks into your daily schedule before you go loading anybody else’s sand. You can always find room to squeeze in sand or water, but if you want to find room for what is truly important to you, you had better load your life with what is important to you before you go loading anything else.

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