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Eating a whale one bite at a time

Q: How do you eat a whale?

A: One bite at a time.

I love this metaphor, not because I in any way condone the consumption of sea mammals (take note, Japan) but because it's so true. When faced with a huge task, say following your dreams or making a positive life-change for example, it's easy not to know where to start and to feel overwhelmed because there's a whole whale to swallow, which realistically just isn't possible.

Even if you imagine taking a bite from here, and a bite from there, every time you look there's just so much whale left, you can't even see where you've been chewing. If we're not careful, when setting goals for change, our expectations can be set for instant transformation. And when we begin, our success of making that change can seem so far off that it's easy to become demoralised and give up.

But what if we broke that whale down into sections? A fin, that's not so bad, how long would that take to eat? Not that long and when you've done it, that's a whole fin gone!! Wow, we start to think, “I could do another one like that no problem. Then let's tackle that tail…” and so on, until before you know it, it's done.

Things we should remember when sitting down to a whale of a task:

- Be realistic about just how long it's going to take to get from blow hole to fluke

- Pace ourselves

- Create a plan of action, a schedule of bites so to speak that will keep us chewing away until the behemoth task is digested and done.

And what if we could set it up so the task was fun? Wouldn't it make it all the better to actually enjoy it? Making that whale finger-licking good would certainly help in polishing it off.

Our whales are our End Goals these challenges we've set for ourselves of how we want our life to be. Having already made the goals SMART and PURE (see last week) the next step to achieving them is to take that end goal and break it down into sections.

Recipe for preparation:

1. Start by writing a list of all the component parts of your goal. Ask yourself: what do I have to do or put in place in order to achieve this end goal?

2. Then create a goal for each of these headings. Write down exactly where you want to be/what you want to be doing when everything under that heading is 10/10. Eg the 'nutrition' goal might be something like: By the end of this month I will be eating a healthy, balanced diet that I can manage and that works with and supports my lifestyle.

3. The next task is to then split these goals into meal-size portions. For each heading, write out its component parts.

4. Then go one step further. Take each of those parts and cut them up into bite-sized, manageable chunks. Write a list of the action steps involved. Your action steps are clear, contained, simple tasks, nothing large enough that it feels overwhelming.

5. Finally, look back over your lists. Ask yourself: which is the most important step to start with? Which is going to make the biggest difference towards me achieving my overall goal? That is where to start.

Create yourself an action-plan.

Ask: What will I have to have done towards my goal by the end of… three months? One month? One week? Check that the time frame you have set around your goals are realistic considering the actions you need to take.

Then ask: What action will I take towards my goal today?

Every single morsel makes a difference and you will soon start to see how it all adds up.

And this preparation is your first bite…

It may sound like a lot of planning, but this whole process will probably only take about an hour or two of your time! And isn't it worth investing just one little hour to create yourself a step-by-step action plan to attaining your dreams? A plan that doesn't require willpower or heroics, just one simple, manageable step after another. The key is taking small and consistent actions in the direction you want to go. As Brian Tracey says, “By the inch it's a synch, by the yard it's hard.” Or as I say, one bite at a time.

Julia Pitt is a trained success coach and certified NLP practitioner. For more information: 705-7488; www.juliapittcoaching.com.

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Published March 27, 2012 at 2:00 am (Updated March 27, 2012 at 9:42 am)

Eating a whale one bite at a time

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