A fulfilled life inevitably comes down to focusing on 3 domains: Health, Happiness, and Freedom. And, within those 3 domains, you’ll need to evaluate what your own “big rocks” are that you need to prioritize and safeguard. Pretty simple right?
The 3 life domains
I purposely oversimplified this categorization to make it easier to grasp what can be focussed on and prioritized, but it’s not a rigid structure. For instance, it’s likely that something makes you both happy, healthy, and freer at the same time.
🍏 1. Health
Putting work into your health is the clear winner when selecting the highest return on investment for bettering your situation. Being healthy and energetic inevitably makes you happier and also gives you a larger capacity to work on your freedom and happiness.
- Mental health
- Physical health
- Nutrition & Supplementation
- Strength & Endurance
- Rest and recovery
☀️ 2. Happiness
I define happiness here as being satisfied and content while at rest, not as the emotion of joy which is often short-lived and unsustainable. Usually, people experience this happiness when what they find important in life is sufficiently present.
- A meaningful and pleasant job
- A sense of purpose
- Social relationships
- An intimate relationship
- Leisure activities
- Learning and developing one’s self
- Helping others (help yourself first though!)
☁️ 3. Freedom
Freedom is doing what you want, where you want, when you want, with who you want. Acquiring wealth is probably the most common way of becoming “freer”. The more wealth you have, the fewer demands on your time a job has, the more you can choose what you do with. However, when you specifically target what freedoms are most important to you, you won’t need to earn an extravagant amount of money to be free.
- Financial freedom and mobility
- Freedom of speech and expression
- Political freedom
- Freedom of belief and religion
- Freedom of movement/relocation
- Freedom from liabilities (for example insurance)
Your big rocks inside the domains
In the 7 habits of highly successful people the author Steven Covey tells a story about how you have to fit in your major priorities (big rocks) first, or else you’ll never be able to get them in at all. Think about what your big rocks are. For most people it would probably look a bit like this:
- Exercise right
- Eat right
- Maintain healthy relationships
- Have a successful career
- Build your skills and keep learning
- Work towards a freer flexible schedule
Only after those big rocks, you’d consider filling in the gaps with playing videogames, sliding in the DM’s of Kevin Hart, or hanging out with that friend you don’t like all that much.
One day an expert was speaking to a group of business students and, to drive home a point, used an illustration I’m sure those students will never forget. After I share it with you, you’ll never forget it either.
As this man stood in front of the group of high-powered over-achievers he said, "Okay, time for a quiz." Then he pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed mason jar and set it on a table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, "Is this jar full?" Everyone in the class said, "Yes." Then he said, "Really?" He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. Then he smiled and asked the group once more, "Is the jar full?" By this time the class was onto him. "Probably not," one of them answered. "Good!" he replied. And he reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, "Is this jar full?" "No!" the class shouted. Once again he said, "Good!" Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked up at the class and asked, "What is the point of this illustration?" One eager beaver raised his hand and said, "The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!" "No," the speaker replied, "that’s not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all."
What are the big rocks in your life? A project that you want to accomplish? Time with your loved ones? Your faith, your education, your finances? A cause? Teaching or mentoring others? Remember to put these 'Big Rocks' in first or you’ll never get them in at all.