Do you remember the allegory about the professor at the head of the class – on the table, she has a pickle jar, a gaggle of golf balls, pebbles and some sand. As the story goes she masterfully places the disparate items into the jar. From time to time she turns to the class and asks if the jar is full. Each time, they convincingly reply, “yes”. Finally, having run out of things to place the professor pauses to admire the full jar and then reaches for two cups of coffee from under the counter. She pours them in.
Let’s indulge in a little housekeeping. The jar now represents life. The golf balls symbolize the important things: God, family, health, friends, and favorite activities. Things that if all were lost, life would still be full. The pebbles equate to things that matter: your job, your home, your car. The sand is everything else. Finally, coffee speaks to connecting with a business contact, socializing with a friend, or even exploring something new.
I am not going to start proposing that you cram more into your already hectic schedule. I will suggest, however, that actively shifting your perspective and approach will greatly empower you to realistically tackle what’s ahead and more. If you spin your wheels on the little things, you will soon find yourself lacking the necessary bandwidth and motivation for the more important things and vice-versa. Approach your to-do list in a balanced fashion, while being mindful of the bigger picture, the pickle jar.
Diligent and methodical practice will sharpen your skillset and yield improved results. Consistency means creating your own luck. And that will uncover hidden gems – the more bit I alluded to earlier. Imagine discovering new interests, opportunities, success. Perhaps even the house keys you misplaced a few months ago. It’s these surprises that provide pleasant delight and keep us striving for more. How will you fill your pickle jar and what will you uncover?