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  • Writer's pictureJeff Butorac

How Do You Eat An Elephant?

How do you eat an elephant?

I have come across this saying a number of times while reading about the Navy SEALs. I'm not sure of its origin, but I love it as a visual when discussing how to tackle a big goal or make a substantial change in life.

So, how do you eat an elephant?

Easy, one bite at a time!

What a fantastic analogy! It perfectly paints the picture of what you need to do if you want to undertake something that seems overwhelming. What does it mean? It means, to not try and take on whatever your goal, plan, or mission is all at one time. Not only will it seem overwhelming, but you will also have a much greater chance of failure because the task is seemingly so daunting.

Instead, focus on just the “first bite” or small task that you can accomplish towards your goal. Put your attention on just that first step until it’s completed. After that, find the next task you can accomplish, and then the next. As you work through these task (or small goals) two things will start to happen. One, you will realize that when each task is taken with single-minded focus, it is not as challenging as it seemed when it was part of the whole task (or elephant). Secondly, you will begin to build more and more confidence as you are successful at completing each task, which will in turn, make the next one seem less daunting.

Often times we become overwhelmed and decide not to take on major aspirations because we feel like goal is too far out of reach to complete or will take too long. Take for example, losing weight. You can’t just wake up tomorrow and be 50, 20, or even 5 pounds lighter. If you have the goal of losing 50 pounds it may seem so impossible that you may decide to not even try. Instead, think of what small task can you accomplish today to help you on your way. What small lifestyle change can you make that will help achieve this goal? It may be as simple as starting to walk an extra 10 minutes a day or to drink one less soda a day. After you accomplish that goal, find the next small challenge that you can accomplish.

By building these small victories on top of each other, you will start to see the progress that you desire. Make adjustments to your daily goals if required. They will build on top of each other and start to become something significant. It will take time to achieve your goal, but very rarely does anything worthwhile come quickly. Relish in taking on each task one at a time, and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment when you complete it. Those accomplishments will build the confidence that you need to take on the next task at hand.

So start to dream about what your elephant might be. Just remember that you will have to take it down, one bite at a time.

Jeff Butorac

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