Achieve More Balance in Your Life by Prioritizing Stone over Sand

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

In the past few months, I have spoken with four different individuals who were all struggling with maintaining a sense of peace in their lives. One was my neighbor who was having a hard time adjusting to working from home due to Covid-19. Two were my students who were graduating that semester with a degree in Elementary Education. They were overwhelmed with balancing the sudden shift in remote (virtual) teaching, completing their class assignments and substitute teaching. Finally, my boyfriend was feeling extremely uninspired with work and frankly, life in general. In all of these instances, I kindly encouraged them to examine whether they are prioritizing the sand in their lives or the stones.

In this metaphor, the stones in our lives are those things that bring us a sense of joy, calm, peace, fulfillment; it can nourish your soul. The sand refers to all the little mundane things we do everyday, that we have to do everyday. These are things like going to work, checking the countless emails in our inbox, buying groceries, cleaning the house, walking the dog, etc., etc. The basic idea is that most people start each day filling their jar with sand. When you do this, you are unable to fit the stones — the things that feed your spirit — in the jar because it is already full. On the other hand, if you start your day (or week) placing your stones in the jar first, the sand will naturally find places to settle. The big idea here is to prioritize the stones in our lives, so we can be our best selves. And tending to our stones should not be contingent upon getting through the sand, because it is never-ending. Our stones is what makes life worth living.

I’ll give a quick example of how I have applied this metaphor in my life. From as early as I can remember, I have always enjoyed working out and participating in physical activities (e.g., kick ball, track, basketball, etc.). I was the girl that didn’t mind getting sweaty if it meant I was challenging myself. As I have gotten older, I find that I often put all of my energy into everything and everyone other than myself (this is the sand). As a result, health and fitness take a back seat. This just starts a negative cycle in which I feel out of shape and unattractive, so I feel unmotivated to exercise. And the more I don’t exercise, the more lousy I feel. When I notice this happening, I remind myself that prioritizing my workouts puts me in a positive state of mind. This is good for everyone.

So rather than hope I have time at the end of the day to exercise, I try to start my day with a jog or a workout. This also involves me deciding what days I want to exercise in the upcoming week so that I already have it plugged in my calendar. If I can schedule all the little sand granules, why not set goals to do things I enjoy?

If you feel your life is imbalanced, you may want to assess whether you are channeling most or all of your energy in to the sand in your life. Below are three steps you can take to begin prioritizing what matters most to you.

1.Identify your stones. You can do this any number of ways. In the past, I have created a good ole-fashioned conceptual map. To do this — a) Take a piece of paper and draw a circle in the middle. Write “Stones” in it.; b) Draw several circles around the Stone circle. For each, draw a connecting line to the Stone circle. The end result should look something like this.

Use this map to brainstorm what your stones are. For example, one of my stones is exercise, as I described above. Thus, I would write ‘exercise’ in one of the surrounding circles. I recommend using a pencil as you might make a lot of changes!

2. Once you have identified your stones, you should spend time thinking about how you will fit in your stones. For instance, because I wanted to make exercising a priority, I planned out what days and times I would go to the gym or run outside. My personal goal was to exercise at least three days a week. I also took it a step further and added a time-frame. The idea of exercising indefinitely seemed overwhelming. Telling myself I would follow this regimen for one month made me think my goal was attainable. Making some sort of plan of action for each stone can help you prioritize your stones in both thought and action. As you create goals for each stone, I highly recommend making them S.M.A.R.T, or specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based. It is also a good idea to have no more than five stones you are focusing on at a time as well as keep your goals in a place you will see often.

3. Change your stones as needed. As you carry out your action plan, you may find that certain things are no longer a priority and/or you discover more stones. Identifying your stones is intended to bring peace, not cause stress! You may also find that you are prioritizing too many things right now and want to refine your list. This is okay ☺ It means you are thinking carefully about what is important to you and what you can handle.

Tomorrow or the next day, or the next week, I invite you spend some time thinking about what stones over sand means to you and how you can implement this in your life. Most importantly, be kind to yourself. Don’t dwell on the times you don’t meet your goals. Dust yourself off and try again the next day☺






I help clients train their minds for peace and purpose. Go to to book your free discovery. I look forward to hearing from you!

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Dr. Lina Richardson, Transformational Life Coach

Dr. Lina Richardson, Transformational Life Coach

I help clients train their minds for peace and purpose. Go to to book your free discovery. I look forward to hearing from you!

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