One Step at a Time by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC
Any major pursuit in life is a big undertaking. There are often many months and many steps required to reach a goal. Because of this, major accomplishments can seem overwhelming, and this feeling causes many people to give up on their goal.
There’s a very old joke that speaks to the problem of overcoming an overwhelming goal. It goes like this: “How do you eat an elephant?” “One bite at a time.”
This old saying is a great way to remember that no major goal can be accomplished at once. Any big undertaking must be taken just like eating an elephant – one small bite at a time. There are several advantages to breaking your undertaking down into several steps.
1. Breaking your goal down into smaller steps gives you a plan. When you list the small steps in sequential order, you immediately have a plan to follow to reach your goal. Take it one step at a time, and you’ll get there.
2. It’s easy to measure your effectiveness. When you measure how you accomplish each smaller goal, you’ll be able to see if you’re on track to reach the larger goal.
3. You’ll avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed. When you break a large goal down into smaller ones, you can get a sense of accomplishment regularly, and you’ll feel that you’re making progress. It is this feeling of accomplishment that helps you stay motivated toward achieving the larger goal.
4. Consistency is easier. When you are able to work on smaller goals and you see accomplishment regularly, you are likely to be more consistent in your overall efforts. When you are measuring yourself only in larger goals, it can be tempting to feel the need for a break once a goal is achieved. With smaller goals, you get just as much accomplished, but you don’t feel so exhausted when you finish.
The work is the same whether you attack a project as one large task or several smaller ones. However, the psychological advantages attained by breaking that elephant into small bites may be just what you need to keep going until you reach your goal.