Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Only one more patch of Elephant Skin!

This is my goal elephant. I have had this piece of paper for 3 1/2 years filling in the areas as i completed them. I am finally down to just one more area-applying for my first job as an RN.
I started to use this method of goal accomplishment when i once came across the joke "whats the best way to eat an elephant?" with the answer being "one bite at a time". It hit me that all goals are really accomplished this way and the paper elephant was born.
In between goals on this paper i made a few other fill in animals for each area with really quick tasks. I used a unicorn for example for one test separating areas for each chapter section read and then a final one for test taken.
The Elephant method has served me well. I have passed this on to a few others over the years but i am pretty sure you have to be a unique and highly motivated person for it to work.
My husband for example now has one. But he has the areas filled in with objects he wants to purchase. To me, this defeats the purpose, since "goal" is usually the end product of actual tasks, and i could even go so far as to say it is a verb as opposed to a noun.
I gave a copy to another friend who wrote down a few goals that were task related , but as i explained to him, the goals he wrote were not long term and so a flow sheet usually works better for that.
I have used other methods of goal achievement along the way and in the past. I "live by the list" as they say on a daily basis. I have also made flow charts on occasion, and even used a simple calendar with start & end dates for things.Additionally , i have kept track of stuff in my head, in log books, and on post it notes.But , by far, i feel most confident of the elephant method.I have found that when using it properly it will not fail to produce favorable results.
Start like this:
1. think of your end goal.this should be something at least 1-5 years down the road.
2.draw the elephant, making sure you draw one with lots of open area for divisions.
3. start to list goals in areas that will take at least a few months each to accomplish (for the most part)
4.as each smaller goal is completed -HIGHLIGHT IT!
5. When all the boxes are colored in, you have "eaten" your elephant! Celebrate!

I dont recommend it for generalized goals like "personal fitness" or "speak fluent French" . turn those type of goals into "compete in a half-marathon", or " trip to france".Then before writing the smaller goals that will lead up to the end result, list them on a paper & eliminate ones that will take less than a month or two. This will force you to stay focused. Those less time consuming goals belong on a list.
An example for half-marathon: run 5 miles without stopping on flat surface, run 3 miles with hills without stopping, increase speed from 5.5 to 6.2, (then) run 5 miles with hills, run 7 or 10 miles without stopping, etc.You should be able to do each thing consistently in this case so you can prepare your body for marathon completetion.
With language learning (or any educational goal):My overall goal was" achieve my associates degree in nursing".you could divide the areas into final tests, semesters , clinical or lab completion, and add stuff(like i did) such as "apply for first job as..."or apply for internship"or " "spend a weekend with non english speaking person only".
Anyway, just thought i'd pass some good advice along.Of course my new goal will be to compete in a marathon (someday) maybe that Boston one....or perhaps an Iron Man. But i'm starting with the 5k...New Elephant time!

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