Tiny bites take down the beast

New Years Resolutions

You’ve probably heard the joke, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer? One bite at a time.

It’s funny because it’s so literal, so ghastly—and so simple. And it makes perfect sense! We’re smaller than an elephant, naturally. How else would we do it?

So why then, when it comes to the big things in life, do we insist on tackling them as if we, too, are big? We resolve to launch that business, lose that weight, put an end to that toxic relationship or habit, but we forget the sheer magnitude of our target. All too quickly, we become overwhelmed and give up, defeated. 

But what if we were to approach our Big Thing like it’s that elephant—with a fork and knife?

Whether it’s a new year’s resolution or a major life change, a physical issue or a spiritual one, what if we were to strategize our win with tiny bites, micro goals, instead of going at it in entirety?

That means breaking out the big goal into small, do-able monthly goals.

For instance, instead of “I want to get in shape,” list what it will take to actually do this in a sustainable, successful way, which includes everything from dietary changes and actual exercise to rearranging your schedule so you can wake up early enough to squeeze in said exercise. Then divide those steps up into achievable monthly small goals that get you where you need to be.

January’s goal might be to cut out sugar and junk food, plus start walking three days a week. In February, the goal would be to add in more healthy habits, such as also cutting out processed foods and adding two days of strength training. By July, wow!

Or take “I want to read the Bible.” Instead of speed-reading just to say you did it, or fizzling out halfway through Numbers, start out small—read one chapter a day in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament, every morning right when you get to work. Keep it up, and soon you’ll have a whole new habit!

Proverbs 21:5 tells us, “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty” (NIV). Those are wise words, and surely God-breathed.

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

How do you achieve a goal? One step at a time.

And it is through diligence—through small, well-planned, carefully measured steps—that we can achieve what we seek. Happy New Year, friends!

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  • Melodie Haas on

    Wow! This such a great word for where I am right now! I want everything to be solved right away but like you said one bite at a time!

  • Ava Pennington on

    Such a common-sense approach! So why don’t I do this more often?! :-)

  • Nancy E. Head on

    I love this idea—one bite at a time. Fabulous! We need ways to make challenges more manageable. Here they are! God bless!

  • Julie on

    Awesome post! Thanks for sharing!

  • Yvonne on

    What a clever idea to make our resolutions more manageable and give us more success. I really appreciate your blog.

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