Adventurer Tim Jarvis knows a thing or two about setting goals.
Guided by the “thinking is good, but doing is better” motto, he recently re-enacted Shackleton’s 1914 complete ‘double’ voyage from Elephant Island to South Georgia and dangerous crossing of its mountainous interior.
Speaking at TEDxAdelaide in May 2013, Tim retold a metaphor he had heard for setting large life goals
To paraphrase Tim:
Collect a pile of rocks, approximately fist-sized. Place those rocks inside a glass vial, where they sit with plenty of air surrounding them. Now grab some gravel, and add it to the vial. The pieces settle around the large rocks and fill the gaps somewhat. Now collect handfulls of sand. Release the sand into the vials, where it filters through and fills all the gaps around the rocks and the gravel.
The rocks are your large life goals. These take up most of your time and your energy. The gravel are smaller goals; they are still important, but can be fitted around the life goals. The sand is all the trivial stuff you must deal with on a day-to-day basis. It must be relegated to fill the gaps between large and small life goals.
The metaphor has been mulling around in my mind in recent weeks.
For me, the question resides in deciding what your life goals are, and what level of priority to assign to them.
For some, large life goals will come in the form of expeditions and explorations that most of us could never even contemplate. For others, these will take the form of managing an ongoing health issue or turning a bad financial situation around.
From my own perspective, I find that my large and small life goals tend to shuffle around a bit. Some weeks, I’m focussed on myself and what I’d like to achieve in work and personal growth. Other weeks, I decide my family is the centre of my life.
I guess I’m constantly turning the vial upside down and searching for new ways to pack it all in again.
[image thanks to Steve Johnson on flickr]