Choosing your priorities: Setting down the BIG rocks first



There are many versions of the story I am about to share with you but the main concept remains the same.

A professor stood in front of his class and pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed mason jar and set it on the table in front of him. He then produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully 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 in the class said, “Yes.” He then reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. He dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. Again he asked his class, “Is the jar full?” “Probably not,” one of them answered. “Good!” he replied. And he reached under the table and 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. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?” “No!” the class shouted. “Good!” Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked up at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?”One eager beaver raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!”

“No,” the speaker replied, “that’s not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”


What are the BIG rocks in your life?

Sit back for a moment. Close your eyes and just THINK. Let your mind contemplate about what makes you happy, eager, excited or scared. One of my biggest fears, and I’m sure yours as well,  is staying stuck in a place with no room for growth.

You are SMART, you are AMBITIOUS and you are TALENTED. Now tell me dear, what are your dreams? If tomorrow you could wake up and live the life you wanted, what it be like? Where would you live? What would you do?

Dreams take work-24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The days are exhausting and the sleep will never be adequate but the rewards are the stuff of dreams.

It’s not about having time. It’s about making time and choosing to make things priorities, placing the BIG rocks down first.




It’s all in the perspective. At times, it might feel like you’re not really working toward your goals because you’re not making any obvious steps toward them. I’ve learned though, that anything you do can potentially be a step towards your goals depending on your purpose. You can’t lie to yourself. I mean, you sort of can, but you wouldn’t be successful and if you were successful, that’d be scary.


Any goal can be broken down into little steps. Each of those steps has mini-steps that compose them. It might feel like you’re not moving, and it might seem to be going at a snail’s pace but small steps add up to big steps that almost always seem to miraculously happen overnight. They didn’t!  Each step, no matter how small is progress. It’s only a matter of time before it adds up.

It’s sort of like how the leaves on the trees always suddenly appear one morning.  There is an interim period that if studied closely involves the budding of the leaves-their development at night and day-hidden from sight. In the same way, your progress will not always be visible. Have Faith that your efforts are building something that in due time, will sprout beautifully and evidently to the world.


Make realistic goals. You can and should DREAM BIG, but start small.

Each day is a blessing and its full of opportunity, but only if you take it.

You have 1,440 minues every day. How are you using them?


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4 Responses to Choosing your priorities: Setting down the BIG rocks first

  1. Kelly Basham says:

    Great tips on setting goals. I have a habit of trying to get it all done at once. I love your reminder to break my goals down into smaller steps to help me achieve them.

    • says:

      Thank you for your comment. I’m glad you found the post helpful. You’re right, it’s very tempting to try and get it all done at once, but I keep reminding myself of the fact that the tortoise wins the race because despite his speed, he is consistent and those small steps add up over time. Thanks again.

  2. Danielle says:

    I love the rock illustration! Such a good reminder on how to go about effectively and efficiently achieving our dreams and goals.

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