“I feel like we’re playing hooky from work!” I turned and looked at my husband’s wider-than-life grin beaming across his face in the afternoon sun. Drawing a deep breath, I took in the incredible beauty around us: snowcapped mountains, blue skies above and fresh snow under our feet. “You know, I feel the exact same way!” I exclaimed. It was early Friday afternoon and we were doing a five-mile backpack-ski to a forest service cabin for a three-day trip in the Elkhorn Mountains in Montana.

I felt so grateful to be outside during a “work week” on such a glorious day. My mind flashed back to 23 years ago when I skipped school and spent a sunny, late spring day cruising around with my girlfriends.

When I returned to school I brought with me a forged note from my dad stating “Please excuse Leslie from her missed day at school, as she was taking care of her sick Grandmother.” As fate would have it, something about the letter seemed highly suspect to the high school principal.

Was it the mention of a Grandmother who lived two states away? Or was it my neat cursive handwriting that revealed the note’s true origin? I’ll never know. But I spent the last day of my senior year in High School serving detention!

Yes, it felt good to experience the alive, tingling sensation in my stomach and the excitement and sense of freedom in my heart as we skied down the winding trail in the mountains. And this time there were no adverse consequences to pay! I was so thankful that my husband and I had taken the time a month earlier to pick a weekend for getting away.

Put First Things First

In his book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Stephen Covey shares a story about the concept of “putting first things first.”

A time management instructor was speaking to a group of workshop participants. On the table in front of him was a wide-mouth gallon jar. Beside the jar was a pile of fist-sized rocks. He took the rocks and carefully placed each one in the jar until it was completely filled. He then asked the group if they thought the jar was filled to capacity. Everyone in the group nodded their heads in agreement; yes it was plain to see the jar was definitely filled.

The instructor then pulled out a bowl of gravel from under the table and poured it into the jar. Once again he asked, “Is it full now?” At this point the class was beginning to catch on. “No!” they yelled.

He then pulled out a small sack of sand and poured it into the jar. He looked up at the group, “Is it full now?” Without waiting for their response he leaned down and picked up a pitcher of water from under the table and filled the gallon jar with water.

“What’s the point of this demonstration?” he asked the group. “The point is, if you don't put the big rocks in first, you'll never get them in at all!"

Several months earlier my husband and I took the time to look at our calendars together. We set aside a weekend in the upcoming month to escape for three days to a place where we could have a rich experience together.

We had no idea what we were going to do. All we did was mark the weekend on out calendars. By doing this, we were putting our big rocks in first. We knew that, otherwise, we would get busy with work, errands, chores, or the other countless things that seem to come up.

Once we arrived at the cabin time seemed to stand still. It felt like we had skied into a life where busy schedules seized to exist. We spent the weekend doing simple chores - chopping wood and hauling water from the creek that was half a mile away.

We went for a long hike on the southern exposed side of the mountain. We paused often and drank in the view while we snacked on trail mix, beef jerky and cheese, enjoying easy laid back conversations with each other.

I felt like we were kids again on summer vacation. Our minds weren’t busy thinking and planning. There were no concerns or worries - just pure presence and joy.

They say you can’t stop time. But I disagree. Time stood still for three glorious days because we put first things first. We made a conscious decision to organize our busy lives around our value of spending time together in a creative adventurous way. Because of this we returned feeling revitalized and refreshed – with memories we wouldn’t trade for the world.

Simple Steps You Can Take To Live Fully and Create Rich Experiences

Do you value having rich, creative experiences with the people you love and care about – but your busy life seems to get in the way of making that happen?

Here’s what you can do to put first things first:

1. Take a brief moment to close your eyes, get quiet and ask yourself who you feel an inner craving to spend some quality time with. Is it your partner, child (or children), family member, friend or just spending some quality time alone?

2. What kind of creative, rich experience would you like to have? Allow yourself to have fun with this – what ideas come to your mind? Know that it doesn’t have to involve a lot of time.

It could be as simple as going out to tea, going for a walk, or making dinner together. You can also wait to talk to the person to decide what you’d like to do.

3. Talk to that person and mark a date on your calendar for getting together. Even if you’re not sure what you’re going to do, go ahead and pick a time and date anyway (putting the big rocks in first).

Author's Bio: 

Leslie Cunningham specializes in working with women entrepreneurs who experience fear and self-doubt in their ability to consistently make more money in their business. The end result that women achieve through following Leslie's advice and expertise is that they are able to permanently get off the emotional financial roller coaster ride and break into six-figures and beyond. http://impactandprofits.com/