Eating An Elephant
So, you have this giant elephant of a goal. And you want to eat it.
Ever want to quit before starting?
It’s 10:30 p.m. and you’re inspired. You pinned recipes, ordered four books on Amazon, and even downloaded the podcast everyone’s been talking about. Tomorrow is your day. Bright and early, baby!
Then, the sun rises and your motivation is swallowed up by the snooze button.
You’re not alone. A new day prefers old habits. Yesterday’s plan is today’s unchecked box.
I’m not here to judge. I once pulled an all-nighter writing a six-month meal plan to start the following evening, and then ordered pizza three nights in a row.
Through consistent failure, I’ve learned that incremental growth is still growth.
Let me say that louder for the people in the back: Incremental growth is still growth!
If you’re standing at the bottom of the mountain, the peak looks intimidating. You’re miles away with baggage on your back and those hiking boots aren’t what they used to be. It’s overwhelming. Besides, what would actually happen if you made it to the top? Will there be another peak? Sure, someone else has done it, but is it possible for you to get there? Will you always have to be here? No breaks? No days off or off days? The idea of going the extra mile is cool, but the first mile can feel pretty steep.
As the saying goes, “The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.” Goals don’t require magic tricks. You can’t just make an elephant disappear. Find your apron and utensils and start chipping away. It requires investment, not illusion.
My goal is to work out consistently and build a healthy lifestyle. A few years ago, I got married (awesome) and had kids (double awesome). I also gained over 60 lbs. of bad habits (not great, Bob). In married life, I’ve felt guilty when I went to the gym and miserable when I didn’t. When I felt the urge to start back up the mountain, I attempted to sprint to the top.
Ten steps later and I was out of breath.
Twenty steps later and I was back at the bottom of the mountain, eating an entire box of Oreos while still wearing my work outfit.
This year, I decided to slow down. Fitness doesn’t have to be an obligation, nor does it need to be a competition. I just need to work out when I can, with what I have. Embrace the good excuses and remove the clutter. If I can win today, it could lead to stacking good days and building healthy habits.
And, well, it’s been nine months and I’m better off.
I average a few bites a week. That elephant is down 40 lbs. and I’m more disciplined than I’ve been in years.
Five ways to make it easier to eat the elephant:
- Have a plan for small victories. Sometimes “making a list” needs to be number one on your to-do list.
- Find support. You don’t have to do this on your own. I’m not talking about your cousin’s friend who’s a CrossFit coach, or that girl from your high school who does MLMs and lost 30 lbs. over a summer. Find your tribe, and relish. (Sidebar: Big thanks to Outside the Box for being my tribe.)
- Appreciate the moment. Today is the only day you can win.
- Speak positive about struggles. Don’t demonize scars or failures, embrace them as landmarks. A knight in shining armor has fought no battles.
- Value the finish line over the finish time. It ain’t a marathon or a sprint, it’s your life. Live it daily.
Bottom line: Your path is yours. Take ownership, but don’t rush and force yourself into something you can’t sustain. No one can eat an elephant in one bite, everyone will take a different amount of time to finish it. Give yourself grace and enjoy the process.
Incremental growth is still growth.
You can do it.
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