The Golf Balls of Life
A professor stood before his philosophy class and picked up a large, empty jar. On the table beside the jar were containers of golf balls, pebbles, sand, and water. The professor filled the jar with golf balls and asked his students, “is the jar full?” Half the class said “yes” but half said, “no, there is still space between the golf balls.”
The professor then poured the pebbles into the jar and shook it so they settled into the open areas between the balls. Again he asked the students if the jar was full. Once again half said “yes” but half said “no, there’s still space between the pebbles.”
The professor then poured sand into the jar and asked the students if the jar was now full. This time most of the students said “yes” but one insightful student said “no there’s still some space between the grains of sand.”
The professor smiled and poured a significant amount of water into the jar and asked, “what if I put the water in first or the sand or the pebbles? The golf balls wouldn’t fit into the jar without something overflowing. Think of the jar as your life. The golf balls are the important things in your life like God, family, health, friends and your favorite passions. Take care of them first. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car. They are important, but they shouldn’t be what make your life matter. If you put the big stuff into your jar of life first – the stuff that really matters – the small stuff will find a way to fit in and if it doesn’t, maybe it doesn’t need to take up so much space your life. The sand is everything else – the small stuff. If you put the sand in first, there won’t be room for the pebbles or golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that really matter.
Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Hug your family. Call your parents. Hold hands with your spouse. Go to church. Get medical check-ups. Exercise. Eat well. Laugh. Take time for yourself. There will always be time to clean the house and tweet a status, but take care of the golf balls in your life first. The rest is just sand. Don’t get trapped in it.