Walking Or Running Legs In Forest, Adventure And ExercisingAction expresses priorities.
—Mahatma Gandhi

We’re approaching the end of Practice 1, Take Charge. We’ve covered several concrete things you can do to take leadership in your healing work. Now, how can you be sure to take action?

Once again, I want to draw from the wisdom of Stephen Covey in his landmark book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. His third habit is “Put First Things First.” By that, he means that once you know what your goal is, be sure to prioritize the actions that will get you there. Don’t let other things get in the way.

What follows is an abridged and paraphrased version of one of my favorite stories from Covey’s book about putting first things first. If you have done work on time management, you have probably heard this story before. Even so, it’s always good to hear again. I know I need to relearn this lesson repeatedly.

A guest speaker at a university class pulled out a large jar and set it on a table in front of him in a lecture hall full of students in preparation to teach a session on time management. First, he put about a dozen large rocks into the jar until it was full to the top. Then he asked the students, “Is this jar full?” Predictably, they answered that it was.

“Really?” he asked. He then poured a bucket of gravel into the jar and let it filter down between the rocks until it was close to the top. He asked again, “Is the jar full?” Now the class had caught on and answered, “Probably not.”

The speaker smiled and went on to add a sack of sand that filtered through the gravel and a pitcher of water that filled in all the air holes before declaring that the jar was finally full.

Then, he took a second, identical jar and added the sand, gravel, and water first. This time, when he tried to put in the big rocks, they wouldn’t all fit.

He then shared with the class the point of the demonstration: “If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all!” 21

What are your big rocks? What are the highest priority items that you want to be sure to do each day, each week, and each month to make your life go well? If you don’t schedule them in your calendar first and fit everything else around them, they might not fit in at all.

In order to overcome a serious health challenge, we need to make sure that the activities that promote our healing are some of our biggest rocks. We need to make them sacred items that go into the calendar, and let all the other gravel, sand, and water of our lives fill in around them.

Everyone has different big rocks, but some examples might be:

  • Shopping for and preparing healthy meals.
  • Making and attending medical appointments.
  • Daily exercise.
  • Taking supplements.
  • Researching treatments.
  • Researching healing dietary changes or exercise regimen.
  • Joining a group or taking a class.
  • Daily meditation, prayer, or writing.
  • An early bedtime.

»» For Today ««

Begin to think about what your big rocks might be.


This is the 24th in a series of excerpts from the first section, Take Charge, of my new book, Everyday Healing. To start your journey on Day 1 and read the whole book: Everyday Healing: Stand Up, Take Charge and Get Your Health Back . . . One Day at a Time please visit Amazon, Barnes & Noble  or your local independent bookstore to pick up your copy today.

As always, if you have any thoughts, feedback or questions, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below and let’s talk!

To your health,