How to Eat an Elephant

How-to-eat-elephant_thumb1What’s the biggest dream or goal you have in your life at this moment? Is it saving money, getting fit, or becoming a better public speaker?

But are you overwhelmed because these goals are so huge and will require significant time and energy?

Do you know how do you eat an elephant? One mouthful at a time!

The Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu, said “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a  single step.”

How do these statements relate to our goals? They give a strategy of how we can tackle seemingly overwhelming goals and challenges. Big goals and challenges are tackled in the same way as smaller goals –  one  step at a time.

It’ s like taking a long car journey, you know you want to drive from Sydney to Brisbane is going to take 12-hours, but your attention will always be on this piece of road, to that town or the next break stop, you have faith that as every mile passes you know are going get there.

How can you tackle that big goal – how to eat that big elephant? There are 3 steps you can follow:

1. Visualise

First visualise your goal and imagine how you FEEL having achieved the goal.  If your goal is to confident public speaking –  imagine the feeling of speaking fluently and confident.  Imagine people complimenting you on your great speech. It is this feeling of future success that will motivate you.

2. Plan the Next Step

The next step is to determine what are the next steps you should take to move forward to  your goal. It is important that these steps are comfortable yet  challenging but won’t overstretch you otherwise you will lose motivation. The right size step will allow a steady pace that can be easily maintained.

A couple of years ago I decided to save 10% of my monthly pay packet. The money goes into a special savings account. Now I have sufficient savings for a family holiday. The monthly saving was not painful as I got used to living on the remaining 90% of the pay. I didn’t really notice the effect of making these savings.

You don’t need to define every step to reach your goal, but sufficient steps to make progress towards completing your goal.

3. Establishing the habit

The third step in accomplishing elephant sized goals is regular action, preferably daily or  weekly.You need to be  persistent in taking the regular steps, and the way to do this is by making the activity into a regular habit.

Now I have heard from several sources that it takes 30 days to establish a new habit. Therefore remind yourself for the next 30 days to take this action, then after that the habit will be established. Use a 30 day calendar to cross off each day so you can see your progress.   I use the Lift  app on my iPhone (it is free!) to help me track my habits.

So you want to become a better speaker? How will you do this? One speech at a time.

How to improve at Table Topics? Try the habit of spending a few minutes each day to give yourself a topic  maybe inspired by the news of the day or maybe the previous Toastmasters meeting. Practice speaking out loud for 2 minutes on that topic. Practice when you are driving or walking.

Do you have trouble saving money? Imagine giving up one takeaway coffee a day – and you save $3 a day – how much money would you save in a year? Just over $700 – you could put that towards your new iPad or holiday.   Imagine the feeling of having that amount of money and all you did was drink one less coffee a day?

Choosing small, easy steps is  be fun and so easy to do  that you hardly think you are working on your goals.

Take Action Today!

The goals you desire are attainable.

What big elephant of a goal or dream will you tackle?

What steps do you need to take to reach that destination?

Starting today, claim  that big dream, visualise what it would be like to reach that goal and decide on the next action steps.

Keep taking these steps until you have reached your dream. Then you can celebrate eating that elephant!

This is the text of a speech presented at Chinglish Bilingual Toastmasters on the 22nd May 2013.

Here is a video recording of the speech:


Author: charuzu

I live in Sydney and interests include music, piano playing, technology, cooking, English language, public speaking, Toastmasters, Asian culture (especially Japan and Korea), cinema, personal development, productivity and making friends with people from around the world.

4 thoughts on “How to Eat an Elephant”

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