How to Eat an Elephant
How Do You Eat an Elephant? One Bite at a Time. This is the principle of how to accomplish your ultimate goal by setting and achieving smaller goals first.
Setting Big and Small Goals
The first month of the New Year January is traditionally the month when most people decide on their New Year resolution. One’s resolution may be a big goal such as publishing one’s book. As humans we can be euphorically emotional with our big ideas. When we are faced with a big problem, a big task or a big goal such as an enormous elephant we tend to want to eat the whole elephant in one chunk. We want to solve that problem or accomplish that big goal in one fell swoop. But nature does not work that way. The only exception when nature works that way is when a miracle happens. There is even an exception to that too – miracles don’t happen in isolation, a miracle is usually triggered by a series of built up preparations.
When you are faced with setting big and small goals, a good principle to use would be to apply the SMART goals criteria as outlined below:
Specific – be clear in your mind what your ultimate desire is that you want to achieve, why, how and when you are going to make it happen, even with the smallest goals. Paint a clear picture of your big goal.
Measurable – make sure you can measure and monitor your progress. Get the help of a mentor to keep you in check. A good mentor would remind you to keep your focus on your big goal.
Attainable – Getting your book into the New York Times Bestseller List is attainable but would take a longer time and frustrating hard work to achieve. But getting your book into your local bookshops and into Amazon Kindle is easier to attain and would take less time. This is an achievable small goal.
Realistic – In spite of your enthusiasm you still have to work on your goal within the constraints of societal norms, other people’s schedules inadvertently clashing with yours and unfavourable natural interventions. Be realistic about how and when you would be able to achieve your goal. Set for yourself small real targets that you can achieve in the short term.
Time-frame – Make a decision to achieve your goals within a reasonable deadline. Everyone has the same amount of time in the day they tell us. That may be the case but your time is best known to you. However, set a deadline for when you would like to accomplish a task, attain a small goal and ultimately the bigger goal. And what happens if you don’t meet the deadline? Well, as long as you are still passionate and determined to achieve your big goal you can go ahead and set another deadline. Under this frame of mind, slowly but surely and as the sun rises and sets, a day will come when your success will dawn on you.
How to Really Eat an Elephant
Firstly you need to sub-divide the big goal of eating the elephant into smaller goals. In order to know how to really eat an Elephant you require three main recipe ingredients:
#1 Risk Taking – Eating an Elephant is a mammoth task so you need time, a business plan, vision, determination and passion. You have to look at the elephant and decide where you are going to start. For starters you can start with one leg. Applying this principle to your big goal, you can start by getting your business plan done or start the writing of the synopsis of your storybook or flesh out the characters of your fictional story.
#2 Resources – You need to have and implement a strategic plan e.g. technical know-how, knowledge. In order to eat an elephant you have to be very resourceful. You can start by brushing up on your writing skills. You can join a local book club, enroll into a short story writing class, join a business network or join an online forum for aspiring writers like yourself.
#3 Leveraging – You need to use tools e.g. cutlery. You cannot come to the table to eat an elephant without the appropriate cutlery. In the same way, you cannot write a book without the essential tools you need to get the job done. These tools maybe buying a desktop computer or laptop if you don’t already have one, buying the yearly published Writer’s Yearbook, buying some notebooks and pens for scribbling your ideas for those times when powering the computer becomes too much work.
Celebrate your Small Achievements
In order to make the task of achieving the big goal less daunting, you should break down or cut up the huge task into smaller manageable pieces. Setting milestones and deadlines is also as important – after completing a task such as copy-editing, jump up for joy. Celebrate your small achievements and reward yourself for achieving this milestone. Go ahead and do something that you enjoy. For example go see the latest 3D movie and spoil yourself with a big box of pop-corn and soft drink.
The Elephant in the Room
Achieving anything significant in life takes time. In spite of the new technology and information readily available to us today the Elephant in the room is that there are only a few situations where somebody had achieved anything of significance in a short time. You will encounter difficulties in the writing and publishing of your book. So don’t lose hope if things don’t work out as planned the first time. You can always try again.
In the Grand Scheme of Things
Ultimately, in the grand scheme of things eating a whole elephant is easier said than done. But applying a little common sense into the situation could actually help you to eat a good sizeable chunk even if you could not manage to finish the whole elephant. In this vein, breaking down your big goal of publishing your book or starting a business can be achieved by setting for yourself achievable micro-targets or small goals. Overtime all these smaller goals would add up to form your big goal. A parting word of caution and advice is if you were to observe any of life’s wisdom it will be that you should be merry and happy in the quest to achieving your life’s big goal. Be sure to enjoy the journey and don’t give up…..ever!
“Champions know that success is inevitable; that there is no such thing as failure, only feedback. They know that the best way to forecast the future is to create it.” – Michael J. Gelb