The Doctors Next Door

The Fish Bowl and Rocks

Hello again!


I've been quite the slacker lately, leaving Dr. Carrie to shoulder our blog alone.


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Nope, I wasn't on an extended vacation on a remote island, although it does look inviting, doesn't it? 




I've been busy rearranging my new fish bowl and rocks. Dr. Carrie actually taught me the concept, but I'll give you the gist of it. (I know you're wondering what a fish bowl and rocks has to do with'll see...)

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In the metaphor, the fishbowl is your life and the rocks are the things in your life. The big rocks represent the important things and the little rocks aren't as important, but necessities nonetheless. Right now, I have a big rock sitting on my lap, "helping" me type.  A little rock in my life would be cleaning the house or checking my personal email.


Let me give you an example of how I needed to rearrange my fish bowl. I enjoy working-out. I feel energized, less stressed, and healthier. I tend to eat better when I exercise and I sit up straighter. Over the last several years, free time has come at a premium. With kids, a family, pets, work, commuting, church, and the need to actually get some sleep each night, my exercise routine has fallen by the wayside. (Sound familiar to you, too?) Every time I would lament to Dr. Carrie how much I miss my yoga and biking, she'd always tell me how the big rocks have to go in the fish bowl first, then the little rocks. If you fill up the fish bowl with the little rocks first, there won't be room to get the big rocks in there.


And for me, exercise is a big rock, but with the kids so young, it's hard to find the time. Our days are always hours-penic. (That's a fancy medical word for not-enough-hours-in-the-day.) We are busy. Too busy sometimes to take time for ourselves, don't you think?


(Uh-oh, here comes another one of my big rocks, wondering what my first big rock is doing...I may have two big rocks on my lap in just a second...)


A few years ago, I read a book about time management. One of the tips was to categorize items on your "to-do" list into three categories:


  1. Things you have to do
  2. Things you should do
  3. Things you want to do


(This technique, by the way, does NOT apply to the "Honey-Do-List". Everything on that list is by definition a "Have-to-Do.")


Once categorized appropriately, the book recommends throwing out the "should do" list and focusing only on the "have to do" and "want to do" items. While this may sound like a procrastination strategy, it isn't. Yes, I should clean my house. But the question is, should I clean my house or play with my kids? It's about making choices based on your priorities, the things we say are important in our life. It's basically the same philosophy as the fish bowl and rocks.


And, then while contemplating how I could fit exercise into my life again, I got a new job, a full-time job. My fish bowl needed to be rearranged...STAT.






So, what's this have to do with medicine? Well, we know that physical health is intertwined with mental and emotional health. We can't sacrifice a healthy lifestyle and adequate sleep for the nonessentials in our lives. Balancing the competing demands of your personal needs and desires with work, family, and friends can be challenging, especially with full-time work, young children, and the upcoming holiday season.


I looked for a bigger fish bowl. That didn't work. Life comes only in one size, 24 hours in a day, 7 days a week.


I dumped all of the rocks out of the fish bowl. I saw lots of little rocks and only a few big rocks. I got out my dusty old big rocks from the storage bins in the basement.


I ruthlessly got rid of the little rocks, keeping only the ones that were on the "have to do" list.


After lots of trial and error, I finally got my big rocks into that bowl, and you know what? Dr. Carrie was right. Those little rocks managed to fit right on in.


Maybe you're struggling with the same question - how do you fit everything into a busy, hectic schedule? Hopefully, you'll find some of these suggestions helpful. I know I'll need to make some minor adjustments as time goes by, but I'm thrilled I've gotten to swim three times in the last three weeks. Heck, it's three times more than I've exercised in the last three months!


And the cleaning the house part? Well, there just wasn't room for that little rock in my fish bowl. 



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