Time to Empty the Jar

Yesterday, I wrote a short blog about the infamous jar – that jar filled with big rocks, smaller rocks, tiny rocks, sand and water – the metaphor about priorities and life. My earlier post was focused on the need to make adjustments inside the jar, especially when we take on new, different or leadership roles in our organization, because we’re asked to take on more and more.

Since writing that blog, I’ve been hounded by the question of what my priorities are in my life, and it struck me today that it’s time to empty my jar. While I can attempt to move things around in my jar, I’ve found that I typically just keep adding things while only occasionally taking things out. More important, I don’t know if I’ve ever just emptied my jar and started over with my priorities, and that’s what I’m going to do—and that’s what I’m offering to each of you. Time to empty the jar.

Here’s a fairly concise list of the many priorities in my life, but not (yet) in any particular order of importance:

  • Family
  • Sons
  • God / Church
  • Friends
  • Relationships (romantic)
  • Travel and Adventure
  • Business / Calling / Mission
  • Exercise
  • Reading / Learning
  • Mankind Project (men’s work, retreats and leadership)
  • Positive Coaching Alliance (Board)
  • Help and Support for Others (being there for people)
  • Entertainment (Broadway shows, etc.)
  • Mentoring Others
  • Two MasterMind Groups
  • Doing Nothing (aka relaxing)
  • Writing New Book
  • New Townhouse (moving in)

If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, then welcome to my world. Not that I feel overwhelmed, but it’s a lot, and these can’t all be big rocks in my jar. If you’re envisioning a little boy in a giant candy store with wall to wall candy, you have the picture, and in the words of Willy Wonka, “So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it.” Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971).

Thus, the impetus to empty my jar and start over, at least with my priorities and determining what are big rocks, smaller rocks, tiny rocks, sand and water. Honestly, this will be a challenging process because I want it all and there’s a voice in my head that says “I can do it all,” even though I know it’s not true. Unfortunately (sort of), I’ve been able to do more and experience more than most people. People see or hear my schedule and wonder how I’m able to do it. Frankly, I think I get a bit of a high off of making this all work – I call it my superman shadow that feels good going 100 mph and doing and experiencing more than most people. I get it – this is not necessarily healthy, but I’ve proven that I can often have more in my life than others without any apparent costs. But that’s the trick because there are always costs.

I love traveling, but when I’m off having another new experience somewhere, I’m not in town to spend time with friends or family, or to do things that fill me up at home. Similarly, most of us have jobs, careers or businesses, and for me my business is truly a calling – the thing I must do because it’s the essence of me, my mission in life. Therefore, I invest heavily with time, attention and even love into my business and calling, and that creates a cost with other things that are important to me. My close friends also know that there’s a cost of being the person and coach that I am in that many people look to me for deep levels of support. While I love offering this gift to others, there’s a weight that I sometimes feel in supporting others, and I then need to find ways to fill myself up and to get support from others. In short, there are always costs.

Many years ago a coach shared this perspective with me: “Every ‘yes’ to one thing is a ‘no’ to everything else in that moment,” and this is great wisdom. I know this truth, but I think I’ve been ignoring it or oblivious to it for the past year. It’s been an incredible year, and I was there for the most important thing in the past year – the moment my Mom took her last breath. But I’ve also missed things. I’ve struggled this year with missing time with friends, especially in the northeast Ohio area, and pondering why I don’t hear from friends here. Several friends have told me that they don’t reach out to me to get together because “it seems like I’m always gone.” I’m not always gone, but I am often gone and apparently that has deterred people from reaching out. Another cost.

I am more committed than ever to fully and authentically living out my mission and calling, both personally and professionally, and that will always be a big rock in my jar. There are certainly other things listed above that will be big (or larger) rocks in my jar, including family, friends, travel, God and supporting others (which is really part of my mission). What’s become clear to me this week is that it’s time to empty my jar and start over with my rocks (big, medium, small and tiny), my sand and my water. The water is what fills in around everything else, and I think for me that’s all about joy, love, growth and learning – they’re the river that run through my life.

Whether you feel like you need a bigger jar (it doesn’t work that way), like your jar is overflowing or that there’s room for more in your jar, I encourage to accept this invitation to empty your jar and start over. That’s my intention over the next month – the month of March – as I seek to get clear on who I intend to be through every nook and cranny of my life and to then build my jar based upon that clear intention. Will you join me? Is it time to empty your jar?

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