by Murray Heintz, Registered Psychologist


How do you eat an entire elephant?  One bite at a time.

While the joke may be old, the approach is sound.

For many people, the thought of starting something new, taking on a new task, or wanting to undertake something new, like a life or career change, can be daunting. An all-too-common response is to catastrophize and identify why you could not possibly start that goal, let alone complete, that goal.

While it is true there may be both real and imagined barriers that must be addressed when setting goals, our fears and uncertainty of the unknown can lead us to start forming reasons why a goal is unreachable. “I have no money.” “Where will I find the time?” “It will take too long.” “How can I meet all my other responsibilities?” are just some of the questions that make our goals and dreams seem unattainable.

Just like eating an elephant, take things one step at a time.

Identify your goal and what steps are needed to complete it.

While focusing on barriers at this point is tempting, try to stop yourself from doing so as it will only prevent the elephant from being eaten.

When all your steps are identified, you can start “eating the elephant.”

Another term that is used is chunking. This is really what we are talking about here: breaking things into smaller, manageable chunks that you can achieve in a step-by-step process that can reduce those feelings of being overwhelmed and stopping you from starting.

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