A friend sent the following story to me the other day. The same story has been used by others, but I am unsure of the original author. However, it is valuable to stress how important it is to have our priorities in order. I hope you enjoy the analogy and the message it brings forth:

A professor stood before his Philosophy 101 class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill the jar 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, of course, rolled into the open spaces between the golf balls. He again asked the students if the jar was full. They again agreed it was.

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

Next, the professor produced two cans of beer from under the table and proceeded to pour the entire contents into the jar, filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

"Now," the professor said, as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things — your faith, your family, your partner, your health, your children, your friends, your favorite passions — 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 would be no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. 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."

"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 beer represented. The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of beers!"

This analogy does an excellent job of showing how important it is for us to focus on what is truly most important. We often say that we will accomplish what we truly want when we have the time. The truth is that we already have the time. Once we understand this, we are able to focus what is most important.

To paraphrase the late Dr. Richard Carlson, psychotherapist and motivational speaker, who told us not to "sweat the small stuff" because most of what happens in our lives is the small stuff: Don’t major in minors. Focus on what is really important.