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Expanding The Container

There is a great concept that goes like this: we each have a container, call it a glass jar. Next to it we have various rocks, pebbles, and sand representing things we can put in the jar (spend our time doing). The thinking goes; identify those areas which are most important, and make sure to do those things first (put the rocks in first), as by doing this the things which are less important – the pebbles and sand – will fill around the rocks. But if you spend your time first doing unimportant things (surfing the internet, etc.), you will not have enough time for those things which truly matter – relationships, volunteer work, your spiritual practice, etc.

The number one excuse I hear from people as to why they don’t spend time working out – putting their health and fitness ‘rock’ in first – is that they don’t have enough time.

I would argue that not only is health and fitness one of the most if not the most important rock, but by putting this rock in first, you will actually expand your container. Here are just some of the ways being fit and healthy gives you more time to do other things:

  • You have more strength and energy, so you can get things done faster, leaving more time for other things.

  • You sleep better. When you are well rested, you are more productive.

  • Your mind is clearer. A clear mind makes fewer mistakes which saves you time cleaning up problems.

  • You spend less time being sick or injured. This frees up more time for important things. How productive were you they last time you had a bad cold or hurt knee?

  • There is a strong correlation between strong health and finances. Being more fiscally fit gives you more opportunities to travel, give to your favorite causes, etc. which expands your universe.

There are myriad ways that being healthy and fit enhances your life. Rather than thinking of spending a few hours a week as ‘taking away’ from other so-called priorities, shift your mindset to how this small investment of time actually increases your productivity in all areas of life, saves you time (and money – healthy people have far less health care costs), etc. Further, many things that lead to optimal health take no incremental time at all. Does it take more time to order a salad rather than a piece of pizza? Of course not, but if you eat the former rather than the latter for lunch, you will have more energy throughout the afternoon, get more done, and thus have time for a post work workout!

I made a decision early in life that no matter what my circumstances were, I would always dedicate at least a little time each day to being active. I have been in many situations where my peers used the circumstances as an excuse to not workout (very demanding business school, Wall Street analyst where they expected us to work virtually around the clock, etc. I won my 2nd world sailing championship as Financial Analyst on Wall Street. My peers said it couldn’t be done. While they were gossiping about how I would spend an hour at lunch in the gym, I got my work done by being focused and productive, and sailed to victory). As the CFO of an internet company during the boom and bust times of the late 1990s/early 2000s, I could have easily worked 16 hour days without a break (as many of my colleagues did). Instead I would get up early, work for 5 – 6 hours, then run daily around lunch time. Not only did I return to work refreshed and energetic, but I often solved whatever problems I faced since some of my best thinking was done when running solo along the beach.

Your health and fitness is the very most important rock you possess. Either put it in your jar first now, or you will not only be less productive along the way, you will be invariably forced to put it in an even larger (and not ‘shiny’) rock first in the future as you deal with the inevitable sickness or injury from not having taken care of yourself.




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