Life is a juggling act. The trick is figuring out which balls are glass and which ones are rubber.
Identifying our top priorities is critical to life success.
To use a parallel metaphor, the classic illustration of putting the big rocks in first has to do with a jar. If you fill your jar with pebbles and sand first, you won’t be able to fit the big rocks in. If you put the big rocks in first, then the pebbles and sand and water will fill in all the cracks and you accomplish more with your life than when you’re just chasing all the little things and ignoring the most important priorities.
Putting in the big rocks means choosing to prioritize the glass balls. Making everything else fit into the smaller cracks.
So, if you’re going to avoid overwhelm, you’re going to have to assign your priorities and make peace with them. That means if you slip up on something else, you extend grace to yourself. You keep your focus where it needs to be. On the most important things.
Stephen Covey in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and Amy Lynn Andrews in Tell Your Time talk about organizing your life around roles.
This is one way to identify which of your balls are glass and which are rubber. In general, your relationships, especially family, are going to be glass. Work is generally rubber, meaning if you drop a ball at work, or something slips through the cracks, it will bounce back. You can make apologies, clean up the messes and keep going.
Prioritizing your important tasks helps you fight the urge to always be a tyrant to the urgent. Even prioritizing your relationships isn’t enough, though. As well as quality time, you also have to be doing the right things with your important relationships.
So many people get stuck in life. They keep going in circles making the same mistakes over and over again.
It takes some down time to identify priorities. It takes some quiet reflection and some hard mental work. Who can do that when you’re overwhelmed? But, it still needs to happen. Fight for it. It’s totally worth it.