Deciding to start a journey is one thing, knowing where to start is something else again and can sometimes be a greater challenge than the journey itself.
Most people are aware of the story of the professor and the jar of rocks. The story goes something like this: a professor produces a large jar and a tray of rocks. He then fills the jar with the rocks and asks his students if they believe the jar to be full. Yes, they say. Then the professor produces a tray of pebbles which he adds to the jar, gives the jar a shake so the pebbles fit in the spaces between the rocks and asks the class again, is the jar full? Some of them catch on and say, no. The professor then pours sand into the jar which fills in the remaining empty spaces. The lesson most people draw from this story is that you can always fit more into your life. The lesson I take from this story is that if you don’t deal with big rocks first… you’ll fill the jar (your life) with the small stuff and there’ll be no room left for the big or important stuff.
Starting my journey meant choosing my ‘big rocks’. Most of us putter through our lives not giving a great deal of thought to why we do what we do and whether or not it’s really important to us. I was no different, until I travelled with my daughter and my parents to Britain a few years ago. I returned from that trip changed in a way I’d never anticipated. It might have been about timing or it might have been the renewed connection to my ancestors or it might have just been the sleep deprivation on the flight home but, my view of what my life could be, changed irrevocably. I wanted something different to what was being sold on prime time television. I wanted something that was possibly even subversive. I wanted a simple life filled with those things that were important to me… and only me. Because, it is my life and as far as I know I have only one.
Over the next few years I took some risks, experimenting with different jobs and businesses in an effort to discern what it was that I wanted to do with my life and, just as importantly, how I was going to make it pay. I’m a lot closer to that determination than I was at the start of my journey but I’m not there yet. What I have been able to discover though, is what my ‘big rocks’ are. Here’s a selection.
- Cooking from scratch so that we can avoid unnecessary additives like colours, flavours, preservatives, etc.
- Avoiding genetically modified ingredients like corn, cotton seed oil, canola oil.
- Growing as much of our own fresh produce as possible which cuts carbon emissions, pesticide use and excessive use of water.
- Redesigning the garden to increase productivity.
- Harvest as many natural resources as possible, like water, sun and wind.
- Live the three ‘R’s – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
- Reduce the number of hours of corporate employment.
- Produce multiple income streams to increase financial resilience.
- Work from home.
- Using conscious consumption to reduce discretionary spending.
- Buying staples in bulk and stockpiling other items when available at a reduced price.
- Using all of the above to increase my surplus cash so I can renovate my cottage, pay off my mortgage and be completely debt free.
These are a few the priorities I apply to my life. They’ve remained constant for over five years so I think it’s safe to say they’re not likely to change any time soon. Sure, I get distracted from my goals occasionally and spend frivolously but knowing what is important means I can get back on course more quickly and easily than if I had no plan at all.
Have you considered what you’d put in that jar first? Can’t hurt to give it some thought.