How do you eat an elephant? Really?

There is an old saying that goes “how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Yes, it’s a metaphor – or analogy – whatever you want to call it. But even though there is some truth to the saying, there are a few things to take into account when you try to “eat your elephant”, or surmount a mammoth task.

Ok, so you eat your elephant one bite at a time:

The aim is not to see how quickly you can do it – the aim is merely TO DO IT. As such, breaking the task down into its tiniest possible components or sections will make it seem easier. While you focus on handling the little things one by one, you will in fact be chomping away at the “big elephant.”

Pace yourself:

Finishing the elephant is not a race against time. It is a marathon struggle against sheer volume. If you know how much you are capable of doing at any give time, do only so much – but get it done.

If you try to push to hard, the effort might not be sustainable, and you may burn yourself out before you reach your goal.

Don’t snack in between:

If you “snack in between” (do other things that don’t contribute to your progress), it will take longer to complete your goal, or “eat your elephant”. The more you snack, the more you run the risk of losing your motivation and desire to complete the goal.

How do you eat an elephant? Really? - self improvement tips - success goalsWork systematically:

When tackling a mammoth task, it is easy to fall into the trap of “trying to do a little bit of everything at once.” While it might feel as if you are doing more, you may in fact not be getting more done – because you are not only splitting your focus, but you are also dividing your capacity to attain a state of “flow.”

Keep your eyes on the prize:

In some cases, accomplishing the goal – or finishing the elephant – is the prize. In other cases, there may be a bigger prize waiting – the real reason why you tackled the massive undertaking in the first place.

Whenever you feel like you aren’t going to make it, keep your eyes on the prize – and draw your strength from that.

Ignore the naysayers:

The very fact that you are “trying to eat an elephant”, will probably cause others to doubt your capability to complete the task. They don’t believe that you will complete it – simply because they themselves are unable to do it, and/or they cannot envision themselves doing it.

Their opinions are not your reality.


If you do, success becomes (virtually) inevitable.