Motivation Articles

A Story of Priorities and a Jar

Tips for Squeezing More into Your Life

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The following story is one that’s been circulating for awhile. I believe it holds a very important message regarding appropriately setting priorities in our lives.

A professor of philosophy stood before his class with some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks about two inches in diameter. He then asked the students if the jar was full.

They agreed that it was full.

So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly and watched as the pebbles rolled into the open areas between the rocks. The professor then asked the students again if the jar was full.

They chuckled and agreed that it was indeed full this time.

The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. The sand filled the remaining open areas of the jar. “Now,” said the professor, “I want you to recognize that this jar signifies your life. The rocks are the truly important things, such as family, health and relationships. If all else was lost and only the rocks remained, your life would still be meaningful. The pebbles are the other things that matter in your life, such as work or school. The sand signifies the remaining “small stuff” and material possessions. Continued ›

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About The Author

Julie Isphording Julie Isphording
Julie, a former Olympic marathon runner, is an author, radio host and fitness expert.

Member Comments

    I have heard this story before, but I think it is always good for us to remember what is truly important. I think everybody has a period in their life when they get to caught up making or doing life, rather than enjoy it. Thank you for sharing! - 5/19/2016 11:21:44 PM
  • I always heard that you poured a beer in afterwards, because there's always time for a beer. - 8/21/2014 11:01:45 AM
  • If you add water, you prove that the jar wasn't full at all. - 1/21/2014 3:34:24 PM
    You can see the visual of this on - Its a great site for motivation ! - 11/27/2013 2:53:00 PM
  • I'm back! This article is very truthful! - 10/31/2013 8:12:49 PM
  • And the female professor took the jar and poured in a cup of coffee which found its way between the rocks and grain of sand. The moral of the story: there is always time for a cup of coffee with friends. - 12/10/2012 8:40:30 AM
  • I loved this article.It helps alot to put life's big and little things in the right place. I agree with sandraleet, in my life God goes first in the foundation. This was inspirating and I will use this in my life. Thanks - 9/9/2012 10:52:32 AM
  • I love this story. It puts everything in perspective. We should take care to show our family and friends how important they are. My motto is to show love and kindness, and give hugs often. - 7/22/2012 9:23:52 PM
  • What a great way to look at life - I'm saving this one :) - 7/22/2012 5:18:33 PM
  • No mention of the water/ ice tea/ beer that can still be poured in? Shame. - 7/22/2012 4:10:39 PM
  • This week has brought this story into sharp focus. The fact that my brother got a liver transplant is a ROCK! Most everything else this week was really just sand. - 7/22/2012 11:51:35 AM
  • First put God in then the rest. - 7/22/2012 11:00:51 AM
  • Thanks... It is something to think about. We are all guilty of a little sand... Ha! Time to clean it up.... Concentrate on the real important things in our lives!... - 7/22/2012 10:39:29 AM
  • I have heard this before and have drawn a jar with each of these three materials in it. The rocks are labeled as are the pebbles. This makes a great beginning activity for school. It makes a great art project and/or journal entry. These labeled things sometimes change. What a wonderful reminder for me today! THANKS!! - 4/28/2012 4:44:54 PM
  • Thanks for this article. My life is indeed full, but I donīt always make the time for the "rocks,"and sometimes feel guilty for deciding to take care of myself in the fitness and health categories. - 12/18/2011 8:06:06 AM

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