The parable of 1,000 marbles and how to get your priorities right

4 min Read Published: 31 Oct 2014

The parable of 1,000 marbles and how to get your priorities right

bowl of marblesOne of the things we all experience from time to time is the speed at which life seems to pass by. The demands of work and family fill every day, with very little time left to contemplate life and make sure we are enjoying the moment. We get wrapped in the stuff of living and sometimes our priorities get a bit skewed.

I recently stumbled across a story that I think may help you to get your priorities right, understand the passing of time and get the best out of life.

The story starts on a Saturday morning and a 55 year old man is enjoying an early morning coffee, in that moment of quiet and solitude before his family wakes. As he drinks his coffee he realises how much he enjoys Saturdays. Spending time with the family, enjoying hobbies and just relaxing.

This 55 year old then starts to contemplate on his life and, putting down his coffee cup, decides to calculate how many more Saturdays he is likely to enjoy before he dies. He then calculated that if he lives until the age of 75 he will have 20 years of Saturdays left. Multiplying 20 years by 52 weeks he worked out that he had around 1,000 Saturdays left to enjoy before his likely demise.

This calculation made him realise how precious every Saturday was and that every Saturday that passes is one less left to enjoy. As he sat there sipping his coffee he wondered how he could ensure that he treasured every future Saturday.

He then had an idea!

Later in the day he took the three mile trip into the nearest town and visited as many shops as he could to purchase something special to help him treasure his future Saturdays.

What was he looking for?

He was looking for marbles!

In his shopping trip this 55 year old man went from shop to shop and purchased 1,000 marbles, one for each precious Saturday left in his life. He returned home and put the 1,000 marbles he bought in a large clear container and put this container on a shelf in his study where he could see it every day.

Every Saturday from that day on he removed one marble from his jar on the shelf and threw it away. Over time he watched the number of marbles in the jar reduce and he made sure that every Saturday was special to him. He never wanted to waste a marble.

On the man's 75th birthday he threw away the last marble and realised that he was not only lucky to have reached the age of 75 but he was now living on borrowed time.

Every Saturday now meant even more to him and he made sure he spent every one in the right way and making the most of his family, hobbies and just relaxing.

Final thought

So what's all this got to do with money? Whether it be your work, your family and even your finances one of the key things in life is to get your priorities right. Money certainly oils the wheels of life but it doesn't make them turn. So take control of your finances but don't obsess over them. Once they are under control you can focus on your other priorities in life. To help you get started have a read of our article 'How to keep on top of your finances in just 5 minutes a day'.

(image by Maggie Smith,