I was recently talking with a dear friend who is planning a move across the country. She was describing how overwhelming all the details were. Remembering our own move from Alaska to the midwest, I was reminded of how there were times I had no idea how everything was going to work out. We had to work around school schedules, sell our house, and get flights as well as get our big down and furniture all moved. I advised her just to focus on the next step rather than thinking too much about the whole thing and I was reminded of this saying…
“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
I don’t think anyone should actually eat an elephant, but very often goals can seem so huge an overwhelming if you look at the entire thing, rather like the prospect of eating something as huge as an elephant. Still, no matter how big the project or goal, it’s possible to break it down into smaller, more manageable steps or pieces and then walk through each of those.
If you have a lot of weight to lose, you want to run a marathon, a big work project, a degree you’re wanting to complete, or any other major goal…what you do each day, consistently, is what is going to get you there. If you’re trying to lose weight, you’ll have to eat healthy over a long period of time. Running a marathon depends on following a training plan for months. A degree requires slowly working through classes. Work projects often require multiple steps over several months. In each case, if you are at the beginning, thinking of all those steps piled together can seem overwhelming. If you’re just starting running, running 26.2 miles for a marathon can seem absolutely impossible…but focusing on just running today, for as much as you can…can seem doable. Focusing on just following your nutrition plan today can be a lot easier than picturing eating healthy for 6 months. Focusing on just your classes this semester can be easier to do than thinking of all the course hours you need to complete.
Bite by bite, slowly, by building those daily habits, you progress toward your goals.
With our move, I worked hard to let go of worrying about any step beyond the next one and, once that step was done, I focused on the next and just trusted that the following steps would also be manageable once I reached them.
What elephant are you trying to eat?