I once heard a story that has stuck with me over the years, about doing the most important things in life first. But today as I pondered, I also have thought about how the important things are often the small, simple things in life, yet they have a huge impact. The analogy as I remember it, goes something like this –

A professor had a jar with various items to be fit inside. Larger rocks, smaller pebbles and sand. He discussed with the class what each of these things represents – the larger rocks were the really important things that needed to be done (not always the most time consuming, just most important), the smaller pebbles were the important things that should get done each day, and the sand was everything else, the things that take up the most time but have the least importance. He first started by putting in everything that takes a lot of our time but has the least amount of importance, the sand. These items vary from person to person, for me it would be things like social media, reading the news, sometimes I would add cleaning the house, depending on the other bigger rocks of my day. Things that are ok to do, but just take up time and shouldn’t be our focus. Then he put in the smaller pebbles, thing that are more important, but not the most important. For me the pebbles would be things like eating, sleeping, possibly cleaning the house, painting, much of my business stuff that I do, important, but not necessarily the most important. Then he tried to add the big rocks, the things of most importance. For me those things would be reading my scriptures, praying, spending time with my husband and kids, things like that. But it didn’t all fit, which is how it works when we fill our time with the things that are least important, the sand. Then he reversed the order, large rocks, pebbles and then sand. What happened? it all fit.

I love this analogy, and this morning as I was studying, I had the chance to read about the small and simple things that we do that have a huge impact. In this analogy they are represented by the large rocks, because they are most important, not because they take up the most time. In fact, a lot of the large, more important things we should be doing in life take up the least amount of our time overall. Sometimes we then minimize their importance choosing instead to spend our time on the pebbles and the sand thinking that eventually we will get to those bigger things. But it doesn’t work that way.

Going back to the quote above, it is the small things, consistently done that lend us the strength we need to move ahead and progress. A simple “I love you” to your spouse and children takes less than 2 seconds, but that simple phrase can carry someone through their whole day. A small hug, or with my kids, a high five and a “how was your day” helps them to know I love them and am interested in what they are interested in. Taking 5 minutes out of my day to really stop and talk to someone, whether family, friend, or even stranger helps that person know they are seen and that they are important. Spending 20 – 30 minutes a day studying my scriptures in the morning starts my day off on the right foot and helps me be open to guidance from my Heavenly Father all through the day, even when I am working on the pebbles and sand items, when I have read and studied, He helps me see the best way to proceed and course corrects when need be.

The large, most important things in life are really the small and simple things we do every day consistently. They make the most difference over time and help us make small improvements that start to add up over time and eventually make a huge difference. Patience is the key to these big changes as they don’t happen overnight, but consistent effort and taking the time each day to put in those big rocks first will change our lives for the better, faster than we might think. This week I encourage you to figure out what your small and simple – big rocks are, and then to do those first and more consistently. I know it can change your life, because it has and continues to change my life.

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