A professor stood before a philosophy class holding an empty jar. As the students took their seats, he started to fill the jar with golf balls. He showed it to them and asked if it was full. All the students agreed that it was.

Then he grabbed a bag of pebbles and poured them in the jar. These pebbles filled the spaces left empty by the golf balls. He looked at the students and asked again if the jar was full. The answer was positive again.

The professor had another trick: he took a bag of sand and emptied it in the jar. The sand made its way into the remaining space. Again the question came: “It’s full now, correct?” The answer was a resounding “Yes.”

Smiling, he took two cans of beer and emptied them into the jar, so the beer effectively filled all the empty space.

This jar represents life”, the professor said. “The golf balls are the important things, like family, health, friends, love, and all those things you love and feel passionate about. They are things that would fill your life even if you lost all the rest. The pebbles are essential, but less important, like your job, your house, maybe your car… The sand represents all the rest of the things we shouldn’t pay so much attention to.”

The professor continued. “There is room for all of this only if you put the golf balls in first. If you put the sand or pebbles in first, there won’t be room for the golf balls. The same happens in life. If we used all our time and energy in the small things, we would never have space for the things that really matter.”

But there was still one question to answer. One of the students lifted her hand and asked about the meaning of the two cans of beer.

The professor smiled and answered: “I love that question. The beer is here to show that even if your life looks full, there is always room for a beer with your friends.”2c


Take care first of the golf balls. Set priorities, the rest is just sand.

What can we learn from this story? Well, that we should pay attention to the things that are crucial in our lives: play with your kids, have a night out with your partner, play sports, take care of your passions, give yourself time to visit the doctor. There will always be time to clean the house or fix the tap.

If we use all our energy in the small things, we won't have space for the things that really matter Click To Tweet


What are the “golf balls” in your life”? How much care do you take of them?