Is everything taking forever to get done? Does your boss come up to you and ask, “What is taking so long with the project?” Or if you work for yourself, do your business goals never seem to get accomplished. Are you struggling to finish things?
I bet when you start out on a goal or project you have a lot of excitement. It might be the dream project you have always wanted. Your enthusiasm is probably overflowing and you are convinced you are going to rock whatever you have on your plate. After time passes though, do you slowly lose interest, forget why you started in the first, and finally in a state of just plain exhaustion quit the thing you had so much passion for in the first place?
Eat the Elephant One Bite at a Time
Yes, we have all heard the saying, “Eat the elephant one bite at a time” when dealing with a large task, goal, or project. Just do a Google search and you will find blog posts, books and videos on it by the scores. It is so ingrained in our culture that we accept it as fact.
The trouble is that it doesn’t work very well.
It would be the same if it were a real elephant and you were a villager that had the whole elephant sitting in front of you.
It Starts to Smell
The first problem with eating an elephant one bite at a time is that it goes bad really quickly. Imagine a huge elephant lying outside of the villager’s hut. With the sun and the days, weeks and months it would take to eat the elephant this way, it going to rot pretty quickly and stink up the neighborhood.
You Get Really Sick of Elephant
The other problem of consuming your hypothetical elephant this way is that you get really sick of elephant. Even the most delicious food will get tiring after a time. In fact, one method of aversion therapy which breaks bad habits is to consume something so much until you get physical ill just thinking of it. The thousand pound elephant is going to taste pretty bad after enough bites of it.
Our Brains Don’t Like Methodical
I will drop the elephant analogy for awhile. The real problem with taking it step by step is that most people lose interest and end up quitting. If they can’t quit at let’s say a job related task they get so sick of it, they find every reason to get the project killed by their boss.
Long term goals, tasks or projects have a very low rate of success. A good example of this is Chapter 13 bankruptcies. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows someone in debt to set up a five year payment plan in order to repay some if not all of their debt. Two thirds of these plans fail. The problem is that it simply takes too long. New life events occur; people lose interest and default on their bankruptcies.