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How Do You Eat An Elephant?

August 4, 2016


I know, that's quite a bizarre question to ask someone you've never met and you're probably wondering 'Why the heck is she trying to eat an elephant?' Perhaps a better first question to ask is what is it you have always wanted to have a crack at? What do you really want to achieve?

We all have something that we'd love to attempt, achieve or even a habit we'd like to break.  Often we'll push it aside and think we can do that later or we might even get to a point where we set a goal to achieve what we want but we feel that it's such an overwhelmingly big task, so we delay taking action or we make excuses.  Well, this is where the elephant comes in.

One day I was chipping away at work when my boss set me a task. At first glance of the task at hand I was clearly overwhelmed and expressed concern "This could take me weeks!".  My boss (and mentor) said to me calmly "Holly, how do you eat an elephant?" My first thought was 'What are you on about mate?' He responded "One bite at a time, bit by bit."

When a climber is trying to summit Mt Everest, they break it down into 5 smaller treks.  When a cyclist competes in the Tour De France, they break the race down into manageable stages. If you're not into climbing Everest or competing in a Tour De France, maybe you want to exercise more, improve your cooking, learn a language or simply feel good about yourself.  Whatever it is you are trying to change or achieve, set yourself a 30 day challenge and see how you go.  Big changes start with small steps, so break your goal down into bite size chunks.

I recently thought I'd apply this same philosophy to my own life.  With a significantly larger personal goal of alleviating ongoing anxiety, I started small and set myself a challenge, to meditate every day for 30 days.  I'll admit, the first few days were difficult for me to set aside the time but by the end of the 30 days I was comfortably meditating for 30 minutes at a time.  The process allows us to create good habits and brings about the self confidence to go bigger and better next time.

Yoko Ono once said "Smile in the mirror. Do that every morning and you'll start to see a big difference in your life."  Whether it's smiling in the mirror each morning, running a half marathon, writing a novel, or simply waking up half an hour earlier every day to listen to the birds sing, we can do it.   Have a crack and see how you go, you might be pleasantly surprised.  Have fun mates!

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