Step#4 : Eating the Elephant

(Projects & the Steps that Make Them Happen)

If you haven’t noticed , I am rather a “Queen of Projects”. Most of mine are self-improvement related in some way. But anything from planning a financial goal to developing a good habit is actually a “project” by any other name.

Over decades, I have grown into a pretty set standard practice in regard to any goal I want to attain. I have obtained both large & small goals including several education degrees, paid off huge debts, purchased 3 homes( a 4thone in less than 2 weeks!), started and grown several arts venues, developed various skills and talents, and organized/reorganized my home, etc. I have also obtained experience in many areas along the way. This has come from making mistakes, trying again, and re-working things each time to get the results I desired. Although everyone has their own way of going about things, I’d like to share mine with you. Perhaps you may find one or two things that you would like to attempt or incorporate. Also, please, BY ALL MEANS, share your ideas and suggestions as well. I am always open to learning!!

First and foremost: Any project or goal will require multiple steps beyond the initial idea. Nothing disturbs me MORE than a person who is always “pipe dreaming”( talking about) and never starting or someone who starts one project after another never finishing even one. An idea is nothing without action.

Most of my plans begin with a basic idea. Let’s just use a recent one. After almost a decade, I decided in 2018 I wanted to soon become a homeowner again. I wasn’t sure about the specifics but I was tired of renting -investing money into something I would never own and living in a place I could not change or expand.

Ready, set, go!!

  1. So , the beginning was setting the goal.

-I will buy a home.( the easy part is always the idea)

2.Next –creating the financial plan. 

-I will create and adhere to a budget for the purchase.

This entailed saving all of my cash for about 1 ½ years paying bills only out of my weekly paychecks, and got really strict about it over the last 7 months until I had about $5000 to start the process.

3.Next , the overall and specific decision process:

-I will live in a home that includes ______( list for things I wanted in a home)

-The home will be in the general area of ________( depending on mileage to work, close to family/interests, etc.)

4.Next – set concrete commitments and followthrough with action- sometimes daily:

– I can afford to pay $________/month for a mortgage payment ( this is intensely important and must consider ALL expenses- sitting down to write every regular and irregular spending habit/bills is a must. Then go online to use a mortgage calculator to find out how much you may qualify for). Do not underestimate or pretend you can afford more than you truly can.

-I will begin looking at homes. Contact a realtor. Commit to 2 or more days a week to spend time out looking at homes. This took me 2 months total, it usually takes longer- but I was very driven and saw at least 6-10 properties per week.

– I will make an offer and start the loan process when approved. This, my friends, is a HUGE paperwork/ phone call/meetings, etc. undertaking. 

-I will buy supplies to move, arrange the movers, and transfer utilities, etc. This all happens BEFORE the move itself.

5.And finally , wrapping up all the loose endsrequired to complete the goal

-I will begin packing several evenings a week, several hours at a time.

-I will have all of my ducks in a row”( as above) including any help required to actually move priorto the settlement date and show up with all required items. 

This type of plan is a combination of determination, focus and commitment. The total time it took counting all the steps was approximately 2 years( including the savings /budget part) —-with #’s 6-10 taking only 3 months. It is a basic outline only.

One tool I have used most frequently is an outgrowth of a joke I heard many years ago: 

“How do you eat an Elephant?”

“One Bite at a Time.”

Thus, I literally drew an elephant out line on paper, sectioned it out like a jig saw and wrote in each step of the goal. As I completed them, I used highlighters to color them in. It’s a great visual and a daily reminder. I posted mine on my fridge.

Almost any project will require multiple stages of effort. But it can be done! I have used a similar formula for large art projects, paying off debts, dieting, large organization endeavors, changing jobs, buying a car, and losing weight. Obstacles will arise, but you need to meet the challenges head on. Don’t back down or back-peddle. If you begin to lose focus, take a day to reset yourself and get back on that horse. Keep your eyes on the prize. There’s nothing better than realizing a dream or goal. You can do it!! Namaste!


nurse, mother, artist, and chameleon ...

5 thoughts on “Step#4 : Eating the Elephant

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