A teacher stood before her 12th grade students. This would be her last lesson, for her students would graduate the following day. She quietly picked up a very large and empty pickle jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. She then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. She picked up a bag of dried peas and poured them into the jar. She shook the jar lightly. The dried peas quickly filled up the open areas between the golf balls. She then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed.
Then the teacher picked up a container of sand and poured it slowly into the jar, shaking it so the sand completely filled the jar. She asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “yes.” The teacher showed the class two cups of coffee from under the table and poured them into the jar, effectively filling the space between the grains of sand.
“Now,” said the teacher, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to know that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things – your family, a future spouse or children, your health, your friends, and your passions – things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The dried peas are the other things that may matter to you like a job, a house, a car. Sand is everything else … the small stuff.”
“If you put the sand and the dried peas into the jar first,” she continued, “There is no room for the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on these items, you may never have room for the things that are really important.”
“Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play, laugh, have fun. Take a friend out to dinner. Twenty years from now, there will be time to clean the house. 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 his hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The teacher 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.”