Put the Big Rocks in First

The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule,
but to schedule your priorities.
–Stephen Covey

Sometimes planning a trip can be quite a feat of juggling. Do we plan the flights first? Or book the resorts and activities and then look for flights? On some trips it seems you have to do everything first, but there are ways around that. In deciding how to arrange you travel plans, I rely on a maxim popularized by Stephen Covey: put the big rocks in first.

Imagine that you have a quart jar and a collection of sand, pebbles, and fist sized rocks. All of these will fit inside the jar, and doing that is your task. If you put the sand in the bottom, then the pebbles, you will probably have big rocks sticking out the top of the jar. But if you put the big rocks in first, surrounding them with pebbles, the sand will fill in the smallest gaps and everything will fit. (You could even pour in a few cups of water to make the jar truly full.) What looked impossible can be done, with room to spare. This is true of organizational and life goals as well, but I just want to look at travel planning today.

Put the big rocks in first then the rest is easier.

Putting the big rocks in first makes the rest easier.

What is the centerpiece of your trip? If you are going to see the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena on New Year’s Day, or view the solar eclipse next August in Wyoming, that event is THE biggest “rock.” You need to enter it on your calendar in INK. Everything else has to fit around that. Once that is in place you can plan your accommodations, arrival and departure, and other activities you want to enjoy while you are in the area.

But perhaps your intent is to visit longtime friends who have no restrictions on their calendar. They want you to stay an indefinite amount of time, whatever works. But you want to take this opportunity to use up all those frequent flyer miles you have been accumulating for some grand excursion. The frequent flyer tickets will probably be your biggest “rock” as you compare space available to and from various airports for the optimum price and dates. Once that is scouted out, you can compare calendars with your friends and then purchase those tickets.

Once in a while it seems that you only have big rocks, no pebbles or sand. The flight availability is restricted, forcing choices between various inconvenient times and high prices. The ski slopes and beach resorts are almost completely booked for holiday stays, and your family all have slightly different schedules. At times like this we wish for elastic jars, magic, and miracles – or we make compromises. The best cure for this situation is to prevent it by starting your plans early. But that does not help much if you have begun late.

Sorting priorities is vital to good trip planning. Knowing which parts of the plan can be flexible and which are fixed helps to make the path clear. I will be happy to help you sort out where the wiggle room is in your planning. Call me!

Boundaries divide. Travel unites.

29 September 2016

About Travel Unites

A travel agent since 1994, I want people to get together for greater understanding across boundaries.
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