One of the things that became clear to me during last week’s A Slower Pace CHALLENGE was the need for clear priorities. As the pace of your life slows down as a result of putting in place some Slower Pace principles, you will have more margin in your life — more time, more energy, more focus. However, if you do not have clear priorities — such as faith, family, health, personal growth, and others — you will end up swapping your old habits with unproductive and unfulfilling alternatives. It would be the dieting equivalent of giving up McDonalds fast food only to hit up Burger King for your meal instead of a salad bar or healthy alternative.

So what are your priorities?

Did you set them yourself or were they set by something or someone else? In today’s culture, that is a valid question.

Is what you are doing / reading / working on next because the calendar or “to do” list said so?

Many of you may have heard this next story. Imagine you have an empty Mason jar. This represents your life, your energy, your time — 1440 minutes a day, 168 hours a week — all of it finite and limited.

There is a cup of sand in front of you. This represents the many various things you need to get done throughout the day. Pour it into the jar.

Now, there is also a cup of pebbles in front of you. This represents the various commitments you have made. It can be after work activities, church programs, volunteering, sports practices, kids’ music lessons, carpool commitments — the list can go on an on. Go ahead an pour the pebbles into the Mason jar.

Finally, there are five golf balls in front of you. These would represent the major items in your life that are most precious to you. They can be many things, but personally mine consist of faith, wife, kids, career, and service.

Take your golf balls and put them into the Mason jar…..however, they do not fit. There is no more room in your life for them. It is the end of the day and you still have things left undone. You are finally home from work but have no energy for your spouse, kids, or family.

When I heard this story, I was ashamed at how often that was the case. However, there is hope.

Rewind the story back to the empty Mason jar. Now instead of the sand going in first, you make a CONSCIOUS decision to put in your priority golf balls into the jar.

Now that you have your priorities taken care of, go ahead and pour in the cup of pebbles. Shake the jar around. See, there still is room for the carpool duties, sports practices, and music lessons.

Finally, that cup of sand — go ahead and add it to your Mason jar of life. Yes, you might need to shake it a bit, or slow down your pour as the sand works its way to the bottom. But there is a high chance that you can fit it all into your jar. And even if you cannot fit all the sand in, it’s only sand. It is not a golf ball which is what you were left holding in the first scenario.

And to top off the metaphor, take a cup of sweet tea (or coffee or beer). Add that to your seemingly full Mason jar of life. Just when you thought your jar couldn’t hold any more, the lesson is that there is always time for a cup of sweet tea (or coffee or beer) with a friend.

Here is a video of the same metaphor.

So what are your golf balls or big rocks?

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

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