The Rest is Just Sand

Dunes

A philosophy professor stood before his class with a few items on the table in front of him. He picked up a large glass jar and started to fill it with rocks.

The professor then asked his students. “Is the jar full?”

The students nodded their heads and agreed that the jar was full.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks.

He then asked the students again. “Is the jar full?”

The students again nodded their heads and agreed that the jar was full.

The professor then picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. The sand filled up the remaining open areas of the jar.

He then asked once more. “Is the jar full?”

The students this time responded with a unanimous “Yes.”

“Now” said the professor. “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The rocks are the important things – your family, your partner, your health, your children – things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter – like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else, the small stuff.

“If you put the sand into the jar first” he continued. “there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take your partner out dancing. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party, or fix the disposal.”

Take care of the rocks first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.

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How to set goals

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While some tasks are completed within a matter of a few seconds, others take a life time to achieve. But if you want to move through life, you need to set goals – else you will become a driftwood.

  1. Determine your goals: When planning life goals you need to ask yourself a question: where do you want to see yourself after 10 years, or maybe 15? A career life goal might be to become a programmer. A fitness goal might be to become fit.

Examples of specific goals:

  • I want to cut down junk food.
  • I want to learn Spanish.
  • I want to participate in 10K marathon.
  1. Break your goals into smaller constituents: Once you have decided your goals it is time to break it down into smaller goals, this way you will be able to track your progress also. For example, if you want to be fit you need to start eating healthy.
  1. Write short term goals: One you have decided what your main goal is and also divided it into smaller goals, it is time to write it down. This will not only make it harder for you to ignore but make you accountable.
  1. Move towards your larger goals: Use these small goals that you have made for yourself as a stepping stone to achieve your bigger goal.
  1. Adjust goals periodically: There is nothing constant in life, including life itself. Hence one should always be prepared to tweak his/her goals.

Always remember, a goal without a plan is just a wish.

The importance of setting goals in life

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The last post, Meaningless Goals, was about wasting time and energy chasing absurd and pointless targets. So it was only logical, or at-least this is what I thought, to talk about the importance of setting goals in life in this post.

So what exactly are goals?

Goals are the oxygen of our dreams, they give direction and meaning to life. Compelling us to lead a disciplined life and transforming our personality and outlook in a positive way.

Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible. – Tony Robbins

Here are my 5 reasons why setting goals is important in life:

  1. Achieving potential : Setting a goal means setting a target to strive towards. To accomplish this one needs to stretch beyond the normal. This helps the person look beyond the familiar routine and grow in life. Always remember, familiarity is the nemesis of growth.
  2. Creating focus : We all have potential to do something good in life. It is up to us to realize our potential and focus our abilities and talent in the right direction. Just like how sunlight can’t burn through anything without a magnifying glass focusing it, a person cannot achieve anything without focus.
  3. Taking control of your life : At some point of time we need to grow up and take control of our life. Meaning, not only should we hold ourselves responsible for our success but also for our failures. So instead of waiting for things to happen we need take charge and make things happen.
  4. Creating accountability : Having goals makes a person accountable, because rather than just talking a person is compelled to act. This self accountability makes the individual responsible for his/her successes or failures.
  5. Motivation : Setting goals helps a person connect with his/her innermost desires. Motivating and giving the person something to strive for. This motivation helps overcome the negative desires that cloud the mind, reconnects with the innermost desires and redirects the focus on accomplishing the goals.

Goals are simply tools that help funnel energy in the right direction. They help a person reach his/her potential and do something good, for oneself and for the community at large.