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How do you eat an Elephant? One bite at a time

Have you ever heard the expression “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time” before? It’s an apt way of describing taking on a perceivably monumental task and breaking it down into (pardon the pun) bite-size chunks.

We’ve all been there before – facing that large, daunting task in front of us, not knowing where to start or how we’re going to get there. Whether it’s that major home renovation, trying to lose those extra 20 pounds or planning a large project, we all face these challenges at some points in our lives and often we suffer paralysis by analysis in trying to determine how we’re going to accomplish them.

Often the biggest hurdle is taking that first step, whatever it may be, in the direction of accomplishing your goal. We always need to begin with the end in mind (Habit #2 of Steven Covey’s 7 Habits) however taking that first step can be tentative, if not downright scary. And it may not even be the right step but as life teaches us, we learn far more from our missteps than we do our successes. The trick is being able to adjust our course as we go along and keep pointed towards our end goal but allow for corrections to our plan to get there.

Early January a few years ago I decided I was going to go back to the gym and lose that weight like so many of us say on December 31st around midnight. And I actually went through with it for the first few weeks of the New Year before falling into that same old excuse haven. During one of my visits I heard a very inspiring thought from one of the trainers at the gym. He said that he tells his clients not to over plan or overthink how they’re going to lose the weight or conduct their workouts – just show up and the rest will tend to take care of itself. That still rings true today in my professional and personal life – just show up. To me it’s a very simple, yet significant, step that will put you on a track towards your goal. It may not be the right track but the beautiful thing is that you have the ability to course-correct as you go, make adjustments and put yourself on a better track.

Taking that first step is often the scariest, we don’t know what to expect or even if it’s the right step but after we take it, we gain that tiny sliver of experience that will continue to build and give us that insight and vision to make better decisions and course corrections that steer us towards our goal.

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