Incorporating the Big Rocks Into Your Life

Do your days run you? Do you feel like you spend a lot of your time reacting to what's going on around you right now than deliberately planning your day? Are you ready to slow down and take control of your schedule? Are you ready to do more meaningful activities and live more consciously?

The Big Rocks

Stephen Covey's "Big Rocks" story is pretty famous. He does an exercise in his presentations where he fills a clear container with big rocks, and then pours in pebbles and sand, which fills up all the spaces. When he tries to do the same thing with those same three materials but starts first with the sand and pebbles, the big rocks cannot fit.

This metaphor represents our time and what we choose to do with it. Our work fills up a good deal of our time.  When we fill the rest of our day with little emergencies, errands, housework, and random things on our to-do lists, we often find that we don't have time to do other activities that really matter, like hobbies we once enjoyed, more time with loved ones, really being present with our children, exercising or meditating, or just doing nothing. Our lives tend to move faster and faster and doesn't seem to be slowing down. Kind of like sand in an hourglass…

What Are Your Big Rocks?

Coloured stones - Porto beach - Corse (France)...Look at what you've done over the last six days:

  1. What did your answers reveal to you in your day of Reflection? Compare what went really well with what didn't go so well. Doing more of what works and changing what doesn't work so well are examples of big rocks.
  2. What are your values? Do you feel that you are living them right now, or do you have some work to do? Doing an activity that represents or ignites a value is a big rock.
  3. How are the different areas in your life looking? Are they heavily leaning in a couple of categories, or do you feel really good with your overall life? Activities which encourage positive growth in one of your important areas of life is a big rock.
  4. Are most of your fundamental needs being met, allowing you to be productive and able to focus? If not, what do you want to change? The goals that resulted from this visioning exercise should offer you a framework of what you want to change to be living a more fulfilling life by the end of 2009. That which fuels your fire and pumps you up is a big rock.
  5. In yesterday's exercise, you took an even closer look to see what systems in your life are working and not working. The implementation of new systems and structures to make your life run smoother is a big rock.

How do I tell the difference between a big rock and a pebble or sand?

In any moment in time, check in with yourself and ask yourself how you feel. If you feel really good about what you're doing and it adds meaning, love, abundance, compassion, happiness, joy and other good feelings in your life (and also in others' lives), chances are you're doing a big rock activity.

What about the pebbles and sand?

The reality of life is that we cannot only be doing big rock activities. If you pile up a bunch of big rocks in a container, you'll see empty space in between them. That's where the pebbles and sand is supposed to go. It's made up of our responsibilities and obligations, busy work that is just part of our everyday experiences. It's not necessarily good or bad, but it is there. It's been shown, though, that people who more consciously choose to spend most of their time focusing on the big rocks experience more satisfaction and joy in their lives and don't feel so overwhelmed by all the little stuff. They are grounded by doing more of what is important to them, that it balances the rest of what life presents them.

How can you live a life with more big rocks in it?

  1. Decide on a handful of big rock activities you want to work on this week, say 4-7.
  2. Fill in your calendar for the week with your activities and appointments that you're already committed to. Include your normal workday, the times you're schooling your kids or driving them to and from activities, and other events that you have planned.
  3. Next, take each of your big rock activities and place each one in your schedule. Try to do them early enough in the day as you can, or at the very least, schedule each one in a time slot when you won't be rushed or tempted to cancel it because of a fire that needs to be put out.
  4. Each day, include at least 15-30 minutes of self-care time, an activity that nurtures your soul. This is a requirement!
  5. Make a laundry list of items that need to be done during the week. It's helpful for some people to break them out either by type of activity (phone calls, check emails, pay bills, etc.) or by the length of time it takes to do the activity. Add more to the list if you must, but know that some may get pushed to the following week.
  6. Either the night before or in the morning before your day starts, take a look at the upcoming day. See what items you have on your laundry list and determine which ones you have time for. Don't attempt to fill in each time slot. This will help you account for fires that need to be put out or items on your list that take longer than you anticipated. Set an intention for the day that you have all you need to be successful, and all that you need to accomplish what you've planned is available to you.
  7. At the end of each day, celebrate what you've done throughout the day, big and small. If you got nothing done on your list, still find something to celebrate and resolve to have a better day tomorrow.

Seems like a lot, doesn't it, to live a conscious, deliberate life? You need to put forth a different kind of energy to create a life you really want to live. You can no longer let life happen to you. You need to continually remind yourself what you really want, and why you want it. That's done by writing out or drawing what's important to you and keeping it forefront in your mind at all times. It takes living life more in appreciation than by complaining and seeing only what's wrong. It take stopping in moment that you're mad or upset, and doing any little thing you can do to feel better in the moment.

It takes time, but it does get easier to do. Life feels easier and you find yourself attracting more of what you want to you. More clients, more business, more collaboration. In the case of a life as a birth professional, we may even start to see more positive outcomes in birth, more acceptance of the work we do, as well as more of a demand for what we do.

Just by planning a life with more big rocks in it? It can happen. Start today.