The teacher placed a large glass jar on the table.
Then out of a bag he took ten stones, each the size of an orange, and began placing them, one by one, in the jar.
When the jar was filled to the brim with stones, he asked his students:
‘Is it full?’
They all agreed that it was. The teacher, however, took some gravel from another bag and by jiggling the large stones around inside the jar, managed to fit in quite a lot of gravel.
‘Is it full now?’
The students said, yes, this time it was definitely full. At that point, the teacher opened a third bag, this time full of fine sand, and he began to pour it into the jar. The sand filled up any empty spaces between the large stones and the gravel, right up to the top.
‘Right,’ said the teacher. ‘Now the jar is full. What do you think I’ve been trying to demonstrate to you?’
‘That it doesn’t matter how busy you are, there’s always room to fit in something else,’ said one student.
‘Not at all. What this little demonstration shows us is that we have to put the large stones in first because, afterwards, they won’t fit.
Now what are the important things in our lives? What are the plans we postpone, the adventures we never have, the loves we fail to fight for? Ask which are the large, solid stones that keep God’s flame alive in you and put them into your jar of decisions now, because very soon there will be no room for them.’
— Paulo Coelho
Recommended Reading: The Alchemist