Dear Aphrodite, I am ready to have the balance I’ve always desired in my life. I feel so exuberant about it and I can’t take no or opposition for an answer. I’m basically starting from scratch and though I’ve had successes in the past, I want to be able to cultivate a life for myself rooted in pleasures, peace, and luxury in a way I’ve never had. My mind and my dreams are so confusing- I see what I want and need and I also see and feel the actions of people around me and I just end up in the same confused state. I do believe in what I want and need for myself but it’s definitely brand new territory I’m pursuing and though I’m excited by it I feel like I lose myself often in the confusion. How can I better establish my own boundaries so anxieties about the changes I am pursuing don’t scatter me? Signed, Dea
Dear Dea, With Venus having just entered efficiency-loving Virgo, joining Jupiter, planet of better and big things, we could all learn from your question. So I’m going to put on my coaching hat and talk with you about time management. If you want to be effective and successfully reach your goals, prioritizing what you spend your time on is a crucial boundary to learn.
I learned this exercise, called Big Rocks, while in Nutrition school and trying to keep up with my full time job and life. It goes like this: Imagine you have a jar, and a specific amount of: sand, pebbles and rocks. The jar, which can only contain so much, represents time. The sand represents relatively inconsequential stuff like social media, phone calls, emails; the pebbles, simple tasks that may have some negative consequences if you don’t do them; the big rocks are the most important things in your life that will have serious consequences if you don’t do them. The interesting thing is, if you pour the sand in first, followed by the pebbles, you will find your self in a situation where some of the big rocks won’t fit. In other words, you’ll run out of time and your biggest priorities will not be met. But if you start with the big rocks, then add in the pebbles and the sand, somehow everything magically fits (you can watch the video demonstration of this right here*).
It’s a striking metaphor for what actually happens in real life. Stephen Covey, who originated this exercise which demonstrates the same point once said: Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important. So what are your big rocks? You have a goal: a life with more peace and luxury than you’ve previously known. I’m assuming you have a strategy for this. Maybe it’s becoming an entrepreneur, going back to school or writing a book on your topic. So choose your big rocks, prioritize them, and let everything and everyone else fall into place around you. For instance, if I want to publish a book, that becomes my big rock every single day. Phones, other people, burst pipes and emergency plumbers will happen. But I can turn off my phone. I can let people know that I won’t be available for a certain number of hours every day. I can answer emails only between noon and 1 PM, if I choose. And if the pipe bursts, I can let the plumber in …and get back to writing.
Sure, other people can and will try to create priorities and “urgent emergencies”, for us, but only you get to decide what’s important. If you feel too easily roped into others’ lives, pulled hither and tither, you might even say: “Hey, I’m turning over a new leaf. I’m working on a really important goal that requires all of my focus. I’m happy to talk to you, but later. Thanks so much for understanding.”
What are your big rocks? Relationships? Creative free time and play time? Spirituality? Starting a business (which may also have other big rocks within it, like, time to plan, networking etc.)? Have fun identifying your big rocks and putting this new system in place. Creating boundaries around your time is a strategy for getting exactly what you want: a more peaceful, enjoyable life!