Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Mayo Jar: Making Room in 2007

With the New Year right around the corner and all our talking about New Years Resolutions it seems like a great time for some reflecting and taking the time to look at your life and ask your self some questions, such as:

How did you spend your days in 2006?

Where was your energy being spent?

Was life too full, and if so, what were you filling it with?

As you do this inventory of your time and energy; pay attention to where you were fitting in your priorities, and exactly what your priorities were.

As a coach I aim to help people live their lives with purpose. So instead of doing what they think they should be doing, or what other people expect them to do, they learn to go through the day making choices that will bring them closer to what is most important to them and that is what I wish for you to aim for in 2007.

But what happens when what is most important gets pushed back, put second or third, or off the “list” all together? Sometimes the hours in the day just run out. Or, sometimes what used to be a priority becomes faded and over time we don’t know what our priorities are or what’s happening with our days. So, does simply doing less always help?

I came across this story a while back that offers some great perspective. I’m not sure what the correct title of the story is and the author seems to be unknown, but I call it The Mayonnaise Jar, and it goes like this:

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open
areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous "yes."

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

"Now," said the professor as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things--your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions---and 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 and 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 golf balls. The same goes for 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 time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first---the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked.

It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room
for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend."

With 2007 right around the corner, this is indeed a perfect time to reflect on what exactly is in your jar. Have all the important things, things that you value most and the things that bring you joy, been included? Or have they been left out for lack of room? Is that what you want for 2007?

My wish for you is that you find room. Where should you start? I’d love to know your thoughts on that!!

Coach Erin Zielinski

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