Achieving Big Goals is Like Eating an Elephant

Try something, get results, keep going

Darius Foroux
4 min readMay 26

A big goal often demands a big change. Want to..

  • Get fit? Quit junk food, exercise consistently, and get enough sleep
  • Build a fulfilling career that pays well? You’ll likely need to become the best in your niche or change industries.
  • Create a personal / professional network? Put yourself out there and meet new people.

When we fail to achieve our goals, we often think we lack self-discipline and that we should just try harder. But that’s not all.

While discipline is a key factor to getting things done, there are two other things people often neglect: Time. And small victories.

It takes time to get things done. And we all need small victories to keep going–otherwise we get discouraged and give up.

How do you eat an elephant?

My research assistant, John, who’s a trail runner, told me about his friend who finished the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB); a 170-kilometer trail race that hikes through several mountains in France, Italy, and Switzerland.

John’s friend finished UTMB in 37 hours, ranking 471 out of 2,537 participants (and only 66% of the runners finished).

At the time, John was just starting out as a runner. He was impressed by his friend’s accomplishment and asked: “How do you train to run for 37 hours over a 170-kilometer mountain race?”

And his friend replied:

“How do you eat an elephant?”

You can’t eat an elephant in one sitting, the same way you can’t finish a 170-kilometer race by training for a short time only.

That’s the thing with big goals: Make progress, one portion at a time.

People who consistently fail to achieve their big goals often do so because they try to eat the elephant all at once. When it comes to doing something big — portioning is key.

This takes more time and patience. But that’s life. Some things take time and we can’t rush them.

Darius Foroux

I write about personal finance, productivity, habits. My best-selling course, Procrastinate Zero 2, is open for registration NOW: