Career: One of the Big Rocks

Stephen Covey of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People fame showed a wonderful video of illustrating the need to put first things first.  In simple summary, when given a collection of rocks and a jar, you need to put the big rocks in first and then let the little rocks slip in around the rocks in order to fit it all in.  If you put the little rocks in first, the big rocks can’t fit.
Gary is a friend who lives in East Lyme, CT. He hasn’t liked his job in years. When I ask him why he doesn’t make an effort to find a new one, he always responds that he doesn’t have the time. Gary is one of those guys who is constantly tinkering with house projects. I don’t mean the essential kind, like the roof is falling apart, but repainting the kitchen a different color simply due to preference and staining the deck far before most people would choose to do so. To those who enjoy such work and who take pride in their house looking optimal, I get it but Gary seems more about keeping himself busy in a productive way (good!) but avoiding focusing on the big rock (his career) for the little rocks (house projects).  Not good.
Ron is a friend who lives in Greenwich, CT. He has hated his legal career for as long as I can remember. Like Gary, Ron says he has “no time” to focus on career change. But Ron spends endless hours on various town committees. I’m all for civic engagement but I’m also all for personal career happiness. When Gary is sitting (bored out of his mind) at a late night zoning meeting, as he was last week, instead of spending time on creating a career vision or searching for another job, he, too, is putting the little rocks ahead of the big rocks.
“Career” is a big rock.  Other than health and relationships, it is usually the third rock to put in one’s jar. Keep that in mind the next time you claim to have no time to change your career.