The Jar of Life

It's easy to get distracted by things that don't matter in fitness (and in life). Focus on the Big Rocks to make real progress!
By Big Bertha
August 12, 2022
The Jar of Life

Oftentimes, when a new member starts up at Stoked, they are super excited to get rolling and are highly motivated to make changes. You might have that same feeling now. They come in, start learning new exercises, are being consistent with their workouts and overall, they’re crushing it.

Along with that, they’re doing their own homework on things they can be dong better - maybe with their diet or sleep, maybe looking into what supplements they can start taking - the list is really endless.

This is all good, and while well-intentioned, it can lead to their focus getting out of control on things that might not matter too much. And when this happens, it’s not uncommon to see those little distractions cause big problems in their progress.

The Rocks, Pebbles and the Sand

There’s a common analogy used to portray one’s priorities in time management called the Rocks, Pebbles and Sand.

It starts with someone showing an empty jar, and next to it, a jar of big rocks, a jar of pebbles, and a jar of sand. The rocks represent the important things in life - your health, your family, your friends, etc. The pebbles represent slightly smaller priorities in life - maybe your car, home, and your job. Lastly, the sand represents all the smaller things in life.

The presenter then takes the sand, and pours it into the empty jar, filling it a third or so of the way. Next, they take the pebbles, filling it to another third. Lastly, they start placing the big rocks in – only to find they cannot all fit. 

After emptying the jar, the presenter tries it again, only in a different order. First, he prioritizes putting all the big rocks in. Next, he pours in the pebbles, and they cascade down into the nooks and crannies of the big rocks. Lastly, he empties the sand into the jar, allowing it to fill all the smaller gaps. 

This represents the need to focus on the big rocks first, and then manage your smaller pebbles, and lastly, the sand.

You can watch a demonstration of the analogy here.

We can take this analogy, and relate it to our fitness goals as well.

The Rocks

Our rocks in training are the things that will move the needle the most for our goals. 

These are:

If these big rocks aren’t being met in relation to your goal, then you simply will not get there. It is paramount that you take time to focus on locking these in if you want to move that needle.

The Pebbles

These things are great additions to the rocks once the rocks are nailed down consistently. However, on their own, they won’t get us to where we want to be.

The Sand

These last few things are all nice, but not needed. Unfortunately, they’re things that people tend to focus on instead of their rocks or pebbles, and ultimately just waste time and resources.

The Takeaway

It’s easy to get distracted by things like protein powders, BCAAs, theraguns and stretching routines that all feel good, but do little to move the needle in the direction we want. When it comes down to making progress, we need to train hard, frequently and consistently while prioritizing our sleep at night, our step-count during the day, and eating portions that align with our goals. When we do those things, we see far greater progress than we do from any of the pebbles or sand-like distractions.

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