How Do You Eat an Elephant?

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Sometimes we come to a place where we look at a project or a goal or an assignment and think that it seems a little too much — perhaps impossible. It’s tempting to give up before even trying. You may be like Scarlett and decide to tackle it tomorrow…and tomorrow never comes. Maybe the sky will fall before the deadline, and then it won’t be an issue. One can always hope, right?

Just like it is impossible to swallow an elephant whole, we can’t tackle big things overnight. BUT — it can be done over time in pieces.

  • Break it down. What are the “bite-sized” parts of the whole project? What are little goals that will get you to the big goal? Making an action plan doesn’t just map a path to the end, it also helps break the big into lots of littles.Once you know the little pieces, you can simply look at the one step you need to take, just like chewing one bite. It works.
  • Start somewhere. I use this trick for myself a lot. Just taking one step toward the goal can break the cloud of feeling overwhelmed. That step in the right direction creates a tiny bit of momentum that puts you on the right track, even though it’s at the very beginning of that track. Now you’re ready to keep going!
  • Stick to it. It’s so tempting to want the easy solution, but there isn’t always a quick fix. Sometimes we simply need to keep chewing.If you know the path, know the steps, know you are on the right track, keep walking. It may be a long walk, but your faithfulness and hard work will pay off.

Bon appetit!

Spot Check

Life gets away from us. Time flows so quickly, a year is gone before we know it. We are dealing with so many right-now needs that we don’t realize all that we are doing over time. Emergency mode can take over and planning fades to the back.

Our focus on big responsibilities can be hard to keep. We know some things are important, but making time can be hard. Dragging our eyes off the crisis to the crucial is difficult. Keeping priorities front and center is usually hard work.

One thing that will help is regularly taking time to regroup. It may only be a few minutes — on a car ride, maybe, or while washing dishes — but it will be good for you. If you can grab a little more time, look at your calendar as a prompt.

  • How are you really spending your time? Does that match up with your priorities?
  • Have you added a lot of stuff that you didn’t plan on? Do you have room for that or do you need to look at saying “No” to something for now?
  • Are the tools you use doing what you need, or do you need to find something that works better?
  • Do you need help?

Sometimes you find something to change, and that helps you going forward. Sometimes you find that your time is being used well for that to which you are called today. Take that encouragement and walk on. Either way, spot checks give you confidence that you are not letting “life” get away from you, that you are managing your time and activities wisely.