What Are the Golf Balls in Your Life?
I turned 40 the other day. I suppose there are two ways to look at it. I’m either
- an 18 year old with 22 years worth of experience, or
- I’ve moved onto the escalator of middle age.
My initial reaction to turning 40 was to sit down and write a list of all the places I wanted to go and the things I wanted to experience before I hit 50 or 60. Inside I felt a mild panic that as life was accelerating I needed to up my pace. However I had a re-think when I heard the following story.
There was a philosophy professor who was giving a lecture. In front of him he had a big glass jar. He started off by filling up the jar with the golf balls and when they reached the rim of the jar he held it up to the students and asked them if the jar was full. They all agreed, there was no more room to put golf balls in, it was full.
He then picked up tub of small pebbles and poured these in jar so that they filled the space around the golf balls. “Is the jar full now?” he asked. The group of students all looked at each other and agreed that the jar was now completely full.
The professor then picked up another container, this time it had sand in it. He poured the sand in between the pebbles and the golf balls and once again he held up the jar to his class and asked if it was full. Once again the students agreed that the jar was full.
“Are you sure it’s full?” he asked. He finally picked up a bottle of wine and tipped the wine into the jar until it filled up all the remaining space. The students laughed.
The professor then went on to explain the experiment. “This jar represents your life,” he said. “And the golf balls represent the things in your life which are really important, these are the things that have real value. Like your family, friends and your health. The pebbles are things like your mortgage, job, car, clothes and so forth. The sand represents all the other small stuff.
“If you fill the jar up first with the sand or pebbles then you won’t have space for the stuff which matters most. So you must always remember to first make room for the things which are most important in your life first.”
“Spend time with your children; make time to paint or to go on walks, take your partner out for a meal. What is your hobby or passion? What reconnects you with life? If you don’t spend time on these,” he said lifting up a golf ball. “Then you’ll find your life swamped with the little stuff.”
“What about wine?” asked one of the students. “I’m glad you asked about that,” he replied. “Because, remember that no matter how busy you are you’ve always got time for a glass of wine with friends.”
Re-Evaluate What is Important
I like this story because it helped me re-evaluate what was important in my life. We live in a world where life seems to speed up as we get older. The temptation is to try to cram more and more in. But maybe the reverse is true – maybe it’s about putting less into our lives and focusing on the quality.
Take some time to consider what the ‘golf balls’ are in your life.