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How to eat an elephant

I’ve always loved the saying, ‘How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.’ Though the task of eating an elephant is not one we are faced with, the premise holds true.

How often do we defeat ourselves because we think it’s just too hard? We can’t see how something can be achieved so we don’t even try.

Throughout history there’s folk who you’ve never heard of who didn’t start, or gave up at the first hurdle, because they couldn’t fathom how something could possibly be done. So, they didn’t even try.

The people we’ve heard of in history are people who didn’t baulk at the first problem, they went around it, or over it, or through it, or just figured out another way. They refused to be defeated by the fact that it was seemingly impossible.

When Henry Ford was inventing the motor car, he was told countless times that the task was impossible, but he just shrugged and like a wise old owl said cryptically, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”

So how does this relate to you I hear you say? 

Let’s explain.

Take a moment and think of a big, hairy and scary audacious goal that you want to achieve.

Got it? 

  • Running a marathon.
  • Learning to tap dance.
  • Starting your own business.

If you feel a growing sense of panic or excitement at the size of your goal, that is totally normal. But now I want you to breathe. Just breathe. The simple act of breathing can ground you and allow your mind time and space to think.

Now take your fingers to the keys, or pen to paper and think about that goal – and ask yourself. What do I have to do to achieve it? What steps do I have to take to make it a reality? What’s three things I can do in the next 48 hours to move me closer towards my goal?

Breaking down your huge goal into smaller achievable steps is such a beneficial process. Creating a series of steps that can be done, one at a time, is the way to get it done. 

If you want to run a marathon, you don’t go from 0 to 32kms in one day. You break it down – into small achievable steps. You start by walking, then jogging, then running. First 1 km, then 2 km, then 5km – you get the idea, right?

Now’s the time for me to let you into a secret on how to succeed!

You HAVE to get into action.

Don’t just THINK about what you need to do – you HAVE to do it.

Nothing seems impossible or too big when you do this. Nothing.

I’ve always wanted to do Ocean Swimming, but I never did anything about it. I just thought about it secretly, wistfully watching a good friend flourish as she became a proficient Ocean Swimmer. After the death of my father recently I took a couple of weeks holiday at the beach and every morning I would watch this group of people joyfully diving into the sea, like a pod of dolphins, and together swimming out to a yellow buoy. They were about my age, looked fit and confident and I was envious. Every couple of days they would gather to swim and I would watch. Finally, I got sick of sitting, watching them do what I wanted to do, so I signed up to compete in an Ocean Swimming event in a couple of months’ time. That is my big hairy audacious goal – with an end date.  A ‘no going back’ end date. As part of this event, there’s a nine week training program to work towards the goal of a 1km swim. For my first couple of training sessions I was terrified, as it’s been 40 years since I was part of a swimming squad. But the swim coach started us off doing short swims of 100m and then building us up, so by the end of the session we had achieved the 1km, in bite size chunks. Now, just a few weeks in, I am managing to swim over 1km a few times a week and am even considering doing the 2km swim instead.  Watch this space!

You see the ‘elephant’ that I am eating is a 1km Ocean Swim event and I am doing it one bite at a time. And absolutely loving the challenge and how proud I am that I am finally doing it, rather than thinking about it.

What elephant are you going to eat today?

Want to hear more? Join my free monthly online Goal Setting Workshop today. Visit Annie K Coaching for dates and times.