Life in a Jar – Determining Your Priorities

Feb 6 • Financial Planning, Life Planning • 1005 Views • No Comments on Life in a Jar – Determining Your Priorities

By Jamie Bosse

This short story was shared with me by a dear colleague of mine and I have seen different versions of it pop up here and there.  I think it is an awesome reminder of what we need to focus on in life, so I wanted to share it:

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are
not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 cups of coffee…

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When
the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large, empty mayonnaise jar and
proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They
agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook
the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then
asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the
sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students
responded with a unanimous “yes.”

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the
entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The
students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar
represents your life. The golf balls are the important things, your family, your children,
your health, your friends and your favorite passions, and if everything else was lost
and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter, like your job, your house and your car and
so on.

The sand is everything else, the small stuff. If you put the sand into the jar first,” he
continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If
you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the
things that are important to you.

“Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your
children. Spend time with your parents. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play
another 18. Take time to get medical checkups. There will always be time to clean
the house and fix the vacuum cleaner. Take care of the golf balls first – the
things that really matter. Set your priorities… Life is not a dress rehearsal… The
rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The
professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked.”

“It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room
for a cup of coffee with a friend.”

This story ties in perfectly with KHC’s motto of “Making Life Count!®”  Our core philosophy is living well today while planning for your future.  Our clients don’t work 60 hours a week just for the money.  They work to utilize their talents, make a contribution, and build financial wealth to do the things that are important to them.  Some of those things include funding their children’s college education, caring for their parents, traveling to places long dreamed of or simply living the lifestyle that they desire.  Whatever YOUR story, KHC strives to help you achieve it.  We help our clients clarify their goals, create a plan, and take action, no matter what life stage they are in.  We focus on the details of their financial health and help them avoid potential pitfalls so that they have more time to focus on their “golf balls.”

For help prioritizing your goals, visit our website at or contact Jamie Bosse at 913-345-1881 or

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