Water, Sand, Pebble, Rock

Focus Less on the Little Things
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Photo by SJitpitak/Shutterstock

Have you heard the analogy about trying to fit water, sand, pebbles and rocks into a container? If you start with the water and the sand, then add the pebbles, by the time you get to the rocks there is no room left for them no matter how hard you try to cram them in. But if you reverse the order and put the rocks in first, you get different results. After the rocks are safely in the container you can add the pebbles and they will settle in and around the rocks, filling in the gaps. The same happens to the sand, it will find a home amongst the pebbles and rocks as it is able to slip in between the larger objects. And finally, the water has the ability to flow everywhere, into the smallest spaces, even between the grains of sand. By reversing the order you can suddenly, and almost magically, get everything to fit.

Your life is the container. You have finite time and resources available each day to accomplish the things you want to do. I found that once I became a mom I shifted my focus to the smaller things in life, the water and the sand. I spent all day changing diapers, picking up toys and other things of that nature. I was just surviving. At the end of the day I would be exhausted but I never felt like I was really accomplishing much. It’s because I was filling my life in the wrong order.

I needed to look at my life and decide what my rocks and pebbles were. We all need to look at what the big things are that are important to us that we simply cannot ignore any longer. Maybe you stopped having date night with your partner because it seemed too difficult to find a way to make it work. Maybe you stopped volunteering because you felt you didn’t have the time to be away from the house and the baby. Maybe you let your membership and the gym lapse. Maybe you stopped dreaming about going back to school and finishing your degree because it felt too overwhelming. We all need to figure out what our rocks and pebbles are so we can put them in first and build the rest of life around them.

I’m not saying that changing diapers and cleaning the house aren’t important. They are. They absolutely need to be done but they can be done in tandem with the bigger stuff, not in place of it. They will fit themselves in snugly against those larger items, the ones that make your life feel like yours. We don’t have to put our lives on hold and exist on autopilot taking care of everyone and everything around us. We can take the time to put ourselves and our needs out front and center too. It doesn’t make us selfish, it makes us happier and better for all the people in our lives.

And those big important things, the ones that we know give the real value to our lives, are the ones to which we should prioritize giving our time and attention. Play with your kids, even when they get too big to think they want to spend time with you. Make time for your partner — go to dinner or for a walk or watch a movie. Take care of your body by exercising or meditating or cooking a healthy meal. Give care and attention to your rocks and allow them to fill your life first. The dishes can wait a minute. Facebook will be there in a quiet moment tomorrow. Today is the last day your kids will be this small. They will be older tomorrow. Cherish them, and the other people you love, today. Please remember to put the rocks in first, before your life gets so full of the little things and you’re unable to fit them in at all.


Categories: Lifestyle, Parenting, Searching for Balance, Solutions, Work-Life