Years ago, overwhelmed by a divorce, pending move and a stressful job, I was venting to my parents about my crushing workload.
When I paused the monologue to take a breath, my dad asked, “Do you know how to eat an elephant?”
My teenage years were over, but I still knew how to do a world-class eye-roll. Was he going to try to tell me a joke or something? I just didn’t have time for it.
“No,” I said, hoping he would quickly answer his own question so I could get back to complaining.
“One bite at a time,” Dad said.
Aha. It wasn’t a joke. It was advice. And lately, it is advice I’ve been putting to great use. Because while big goals inspire us, they can also easily overwhelm us after a setback or a tough day. It is the daily manageable goals that get us there.
For example, writers create screenplays and novels by hitting a goal of like 1000 words a day. Addicts stay clean one day at a time. Olympic athletes improve lung capacity and muscle strength through daily training. And I’ve come to appreciate the beauty of bite-sized goals. They keep me grounded in the present instead of floating in a future of “what ifs.” And they still let me have big dreams.
Thanks for the advice, Dad. I’ll finish that elephant some day, one bite at a time.