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How to eat an Elephant (especially if Elephant isn’t your favourite lunchtime snack)

Frank Hutton

One of the key reasons why people want to change their job is because it’s 'not how it used to be'. Some key reasons for not doing anything about it are that it’s just too complicated, too exhausting or there are just no alternatives that work.

These things are valid and real for many of us. I have a great deal of sympathy if you’re feeling that right now. I’ve felt the same way at times in the past.

These things are also a wake-up call to all of us who are feeling happy, secure and fulfilled in our work.

Eat your Elephant

What has this got to do with eating ‘Elephants’? (You know how to eat an Elephant don’t you? Just one bite at a time).

The changes in our circumstances that lead us to be in a place of dissatisfaction, with a feeling that there’s no way out, rarely happen overnight. It’s a gradual process. So it won’t be a surprise to learn that by taking small steps along our career journey we can ensure that we don’t get hemmed into a difficult, painful and seemingly unsolvable situation. Here’s a suggestion:

  1. Take responsibility for your long term career now. Whatever stage you’re at, think about your working life going forward - 3, 5, 10 years ahead. Where would you like to be? When? Doing what? Earning what? With what kind of organisation?
  2. Share this with a close friend to get it clear in your own mind.
  3. Think about the steps you could take to get you there.
  4. Set some goals around taking those steps
  5. Keep your LinkedIn profile and CV updated and in line with these goals
  6. Relax in the knowledge you’re on the case.

Maybe you already are doing exactly what you want to be - fantastic. So what might come up that could prevent that from continuing and what steps could you take to prevent that?

Get help

It could be that all sounds a bit daunting - so find someone to work with you on it - could be a coach or other professional, could be a friend. It  does need to be someone objective enough to drive you along the path you need/want to go.

None of us can eat an elephant whole (or would want to try). But we can all manage it one bite at a time. Start ‘eating’ early, before it gets too big or scary a prospect and it will become a source of reassurance for the future and not a feared challenge.

I am aware that sadly Elephants worldwide are still endangered due to poaching and habitat loss, so I made a donation to Born Free - the wildlife protection charity - after writing this. You can adopt an Elephant for just £30 http://www.bornfree.org.uk/campaigns/elephants/action/ - that's a pic of our baby at the top.