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How Choosing Monkeys Instead of Elephants Will Improve Your Day!

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How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! That is a common answer to the question but I often wonder, why eat the elephant at all? There are a multitude of articles, blog posts and research regarding habits associated with elephants. You know what – I don’t care. I DO NOT WANT TO EAT ELEPHANTS.

I want to eat brussels sprouts and asparagus. Maybe I might even eat a little salmon with a lemon butter dressing. I know you are shaking your head at this moment trying to figure out what is the point of this post. Bear with me, its coming. The secret to managing large projects or achieving goals is saying NO! That’s rights two letter word is all we need to keep ourselves traveling down the menu of life where we have options on what we want to eat and when we want to do it.

Now don’t misunderstand me to say that uttering “NO” will make your life miraculously better. It won’t! There are some things and some people where the word No will be interpreted as white noise. No matter how many times you say it, it’s like zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Doesn’t matter, asked again. You know like your boss, kids, spouse, parents, _______ (insert your example here). But there are others who will be surprised but will have to accept your decision if you either:

1. Stand firm in your decision and don’t show any signs of wavering,

2. Reframe their request for help into a manner which gives them back the power.

I don’t know about you, but if there is too much going on around me; my ability to get things done goes down hill and I really begin to sweat the small stuff. My mind and motivation disappear as fast as the downhill ride on the highest roller coaster you can ride. The only thing that has helped me is sage advice received during a conference (that I can’t recall the name to but never forget the best breakout session I attended) which indicated – DON’T ACCEPT THE MONKEY!

If you have never heard of this concept, Harvard Business Review has an excellent article – Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey? The basic premise is – you have to be in control of your timing and your work demands. This is accomplished by not accepting the problems“monkeys” of others. Let me write that again, do not accept the monkey that belongs to someone else. Of course the article provides a more thorough detailed process for determining “Who’s Got the Monkey” but the principle works whether you are a student, parent, employee, manager, entrepreneur – EVERYONE.

This brings me to the point of this post, I sometimes get frustrated with the realities of life. In that moment, I spend a few minutes searching Pinterest for motivation or perusing my podcast/audible library to determine ways to get back on track. For the last month, I have successfully completed the daily goals I identified by returning to the principle of the monkeys. As a result, I now have time in my day to return to my daily walk break and if I choose to – lunch away from my desk. In addition, I am using this same principle with children and enjoying their enthusiasm as they have the opportunity to try new things. My stress level has decreased and I find myself much happier.

Til next time,

Get control over the timing and content of what you do – William Oncken, Jr & Donald L. Wass. Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey? Harvard Business Review

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