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3 Ways to Eat an Elephant

A wood cutout figure of a person stepping onto one higher block at a time against a darker wood panel. A person's hand is holding the next block for climbing higher toward goals.

Eating an elephant, may not sound politically correct, but the metaphor gives you a great visual. In front of you stands this BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal). This applies to the personal and/or business areas of your life. This BHAG may look like an elephant or some other large mass that makes you feel defeated before you even start.

When it comes to setting goals, I can be one of the biggest procrastinators. What’s with that? Why is it so challenging to write down some things that I would like to accomplish that would add value, happiness, and peace to my life? My thought process goes like this: “If I write something down, that means I have to do it. What if I fail? I’ve tried this before and it hasn’t worked. I don’t want to waste my time failing.”

I know I am not alone in this feeling. At the end of the day, we need to look for a “win.” It solidifies the fact that we’re moving in the right direction. Even if it is a baby step forward, that counts as movement. As I coach people to help them reach their goals, I have found that there are three simple steps to remember.

Step 1: End In Mind

Take a step back for a minute and look at what’s in front of you. Take a deep breath, quiet yourself and ask these questions.

  • What does this “elephant” look like?
  • How will you know when you’ve hit the mark?
  • Why is this important to you?
  • How will you feel when you have arrived there?
  • When do I want to hit this goal? 1 week, 1 month, 1 year?

Step 2: First Bite

You’ve heard it said, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” This also applies to setting goals.

  • What is the first step you can take?
  • What resources do you have at your disposal?
  • Who can you call for help? Who can you help?
  • Who can you ask to hold you accountable? Maybe a coach?
  • What is the clear time frame you need to be successful in this first step? 1 day, 1 week, 1 month?

Step 3: Celebration

It is easy to get so caught up in the plan of getting to our goal, that we often forget to look at our “wins.” Clarify what a “win” looks like… don’t assume you know it. Write it down.

  • How will your celebration speak to your heart (not just your head)?
  • How will this celebration make you feel?
  • Research now, where you could go or what you could do.
  • Would you bring someone else along to share in your celebration? Who? Why?
  • How does your celebration relate to your goal? Example: if you want to lose 10 pounds, will food be a part of your celebration?

The best Ways to Eat an Elephant is one bite at a time. It may take awhile to get there, but with wins along the way and celebrations to enjoy, the goals you make are almost accomplished! Now it’s up to you to get started.  Ready…set…go!