How to Eat an Elephant
A wise friend once asked, “how do you eat an elephant?” On instinct my first thought was, “never, would I ever eat an elephant.” Nonetheless, the spirit of the question begged for an answer. The thought of eating anything the size of an elephant is overwhelming at best. Making a lifestyle change can be that elephant for many people.
Whether you want to lose weight, change careers, or be more present and in the moment, change will be required. Stepping into the unknown can feel daunting. It can trigger feelings of insecurity, defensiveness and overall dread. There are ways to mitigate these feelings and proceed toward success.
Believe your goal can be accomplished.
In the face of an overwhelming obstacle, a little voice in your head will tell you it can’t be done. It’ll use every trick in the book to make you think the objective isn’t possible. We believe the narrative we tell ourselves. In the face of staggering odds, you have to know your goal is possible.
Self-confidence is tough when we’re afraid. People might even tell you it’s not possible to accomplish your goal. The only way to conquer fear and negative talk, be it in your own head or from others, is to take action. Visualize what your life will look like when you achieve your goal. Use reinforcing words like — when I achieve my goal verses if I achieve my goal. Act as if you were already at your goal. If you tell yourself something long enough and take action toward it every day, your psyche will catch up. When the belief in yourself begins to outweigh the fear, you become unstoppable.
Focus on progress over the end result.
Ever get on the scale and realize you didn’t hit the goal you were pushing toward? What about that interview you crushed, but still got turned down? Both scenarios didn’t produce the result you worked hard to get.
When disappointment kicks in, it’s easy to quit. Stop focusing on the end result! Instead, focus on progress. Maybe you didn’t lose 15 pounds in a month, but you lost 4 pounds. Maybe great results weren’t enough to get that promotion, but it’s shows you contribute to the success of the company. Focus on the milestones of progress to fuel steps forward.
Engage in your process.
The habits we form in our daily grind produce results. Long term success is rarely achieved with short term effort. It’s important to be aware of and develop daily processes that you can permanently sustain. The key to adopting the right process, is being a life long learner.
A lifestyle change depends on stepping outside of your comfort zone. Take ownership of your current state and accept that your daily habits created your situation. To change those habits, be willing to seek help from others who have been successful. Research and implement new strategies. Experiment and reflect. If you remain honest with yourself about the results your habits produce and are willing to make changes along the way, you will pave the road to better processes.
Failure is learning, keep getting up.
Appropriate risks are important for growth. Some will work out, some won’t. Success is determined by what happens after failure. Mindset is crucial to carve a productive path forward.
Setbacks are opportunities to learn and grow. If you’re willing to get back up and try again, resilience increases. Persistence and grit can lead to positive unexpected outcomes.
Moments when the overwhelming feeling tries to take over, I reflect on the question my wise friend once asked, “how do you eat an elephant?” No magic pill, no surgery, no mystical ritual creates a lifestyle change that leads to personal growth. If you want something different in your life, take the first step. Drown out the negative thoughts with an unwavering belief in yourself, resilience and consistency. When I asked my wise friend how does someone eat an elephant, he simply replied, “one bite at a time.”