Eat the Elephant: Steps to Creating Personalized Systems

I want to talk with you all about systems.

Systems are a collection of actions that work together to accomplish an overall goal. So it’s actions, process and outcomes working together – but the key is to making it work for YOU. Systems can range from simple to very complex so that you’re able to complete any goal you set, because you’ve created a system that works for your environment and your proactive mindset!

I’m giving you the rundown here on the blog, but I also give more details and examples in episode 027 of the podcast! So be sure to listen to that one – it’s the newest episode in season 3 of Productivity Paradox!


Why You Need Systems in Your Life


Systems not only get you where you want to be, but they relieve stress as well, which in turn will have positive effects on your health. With good systems in place, you won’t be worried that you’ve forgotten something!

Systems will make you more effective. When you externalize your worries and your tasks into a system, you focus better on the task at hand and you effectively mono-task.

Systems can even positively affect your relationships. The best way to build relationships is to be trustworthy and keep up with your commitments and correspondences. If you’re organized and productive, you’re more likely to manage your commitments better.

But the best part about creating systems for yourself is making them personalized to YOU. Some people have tried systems that don’t work and that’s because they aren’t customized to their life and environment.


Why You Need to Personalize Your Systems


Set yourself up for success through customizing your systems at home, work and your personal life. Perhaps you have a bad habit of procrastinating, and in that case you should set up a system that will work for you. Working in short bursts with breaks may help your procrastination. It’s all about finding out what you need to work on, and making it easy for yourself to do that in bite-sized pieces.

Systems that aren’t in tune with your environment will reach a limit. This is why you may have started and stopped ways to keep organized or keep achieving goals – they weren’t customized.

I encourage you to have an accountability partner to check in with. I know for some people, this may scare them off from doing tasks to complete a goal, and in that case, you should customize your system so that you are accountable to yourself. Check-ins are vital to progressing and making tweaks as you go. Don’t ever feel bad about making adjustments – that is a must!


Steps to “Eating the Elephant”


Maybe you’ve heard this phrase before. It’s based off an African proverb which says, “The best way to eat the elephant standing in your path is to cut it up into little pieces.”

This applies to anything that feels big and overwhelming to you. Small bites give you something concrete to focus on. Small bite-sized wins build momentum and bring you satisfaction a little at a time.

I’m giving you my simple but effective 3-step process to eating YOUR elephant.

Assess: First, reflect on your relationship to the elephant. Is it your elephant? Or are you setting a goal to make someone else happy? If it’s not YOUR elephant, decide one how much power you want to give it. Size up your “elephant.” Take a look at it and ask yourself a few more questions. What do you want to achieve? Look at where you are in relation to that goal. Looks ahead and see what your obstacles are. Look internally and see what is holding you back.

Break It Down: Figure out a sub-task of the larger task. Go into it with the expectation of how long you’re going to work – it could be 10 minutes or 40 minutes. You can even put on a podcast or music, depending on the task.

Definitely listen to episode 003 of the podcast because I go over in depth how to take a large goal and work backwards to set the time frames and set your action plan into place.

Celebrate Your Wins: Reward yourself when you do your work and after your focus time. Commit to stay focused during your set time. Remember that you have choices at each step in your process of what you can say “yes” and say “no” to. If you focus on each step and the outcome you want, you will keep motivated and stay committed.

As always, it’s important to enlist support. Real life elephants are never eaten by just one person. It takes a whole village – family, friends, mentors, advisors can all help you in different ways. Even just inspiration!


What’s Next?

I can promise you, that if you create a customized system for yourself and your environment while implementing these steps, you can complete your goals and dreams. If you have friends that you know who are struggling to obtain something they want, I hope you can share this bit of information with them! It’s very encouraging and appreciated when someone lets you know that you CAN accomplish that goal by taking baby steps.

As long you are working toward something, assessing and adjusting and taking it one bite at a time, you will definitely eat that elephant!

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Tonya Dalton
Tonya Dalton