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Eating an Elephant

11 Feb

There are times in all of our lives when we have a lot to do, things are complicated, and we’re under stress. A hundred things could be happening, and we may find ourselves struggling to keep up and manage it all. It’s easy to get overwhelmed at times like these and we may think we can’t handle it. When there’s a lot going on and a lot expected of us, we can feel like we’re chasing a train. There is no way to catch it but it can seem we’re expected to anyway. It’s hard to navigate everything when there’s a lot happening, but we can manage it more effectively if we step back and take it one step at a time. If we do the first step, and then the next, one after the other we’ll manage everything and get to the finish line. We don’t have to look ahead and try to do all that must be done going forward. It’s enough to tackle what must be done today. We can keep the long range goal in our sites, but if we focus only on what we must accomplish today, we will more effectively move forward. Stress can make it hard to think and see things clearly. Taking one day at a time will help alleviate that. Perhaps you’ve heard the old question, “How do you eat an elephant?” We all know the answer – one bite at a time. The same is true when we have a lot weighing on us. We can accomplish it by taking it one bite at a time.

There are many facets to our lives and at times it seems every one of them is pressing for our attention. Perhaps our families have special needs, and our projects at work are intense, and the car needs servicing, and we have to get supplies for the neighborhood party, and we forgot we promised to help a friend with a repair, and a dozen other things. Each task is easy to complete on its own, but when they are all jumbled together we can feel buried alive with no air to breathe. But each task, no matter how pressing, can be managed. If we take a few moments and make a plan, and determine how much we can accomplish today and what we can postpone until tomorrow, we will succeed. We are perfectly capable of managing our lives, no matter how complicated they become. We have the key to un-complicate them. We just need to take care of today. Tomorrow we’ll do tomorrow. And the next day we’ll manage that day. If we take it one step at at time, we’ll succeed in getting everything completed.

In this day and age it seems there are more expectations on us than ever before. There is always something more others want from us. But we are in control of our lives and we can say no if we need to. We don’t have to do everything we’re asked to do. We know how much we have already, and if adding more to the “to do” list will break the bank, we can decline. Saying no is an appropriate and sensible choice when saying yes would overwhelm us. We may disappoint the person asking for our time, but agreeing to do something we don’t have time for will only set us up for failure. It’s better to wisely monitor our choices so we can accomplish the commitments we’ve made. We are in charge of our lives and our decisions. It’s fine to say no when we need to. Being proactive in our choices will help us feel more control and enable us to better manage our responsibilities. We all want to be helpful, but sometimes that means we need to take care of what we have already and decline the opportunity to do more.

Today if you’re feeling overwhelmed with all you have to do, stop for a moment and look at what you can reasonably accomplish today. Make a plan to complete those tasks and tomorrow begin again. You can do anything but you can’t do it all at once. Just take care of today. One step at a time is all you need to take. Keep moving forward and you’ll find all the success you’re seeking.

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