Day 1: Are You the Elephant?

Undoing the Elephant Mindset is a 10 day challenge designed to help you identify the false boundaries you’ve created in your own life, recognize the deeper reasons you stop yourself from stepping outside those boundaries, and then break free from the ties that hold you back from living a life you are passionate about. What you’ll need: a notebook or blog or computer, a desire to reach for more in your life, and an open mind.

Day 1: Are You The Elephant?

To begin, lease read this blog post about the elephant mindset. Think about the elephant, how it always believes that those flimsy ropes are strong enough to hold such a huge creature in place. The elephant doesn’t question the ropes: they’ve always been there, tied to his body, so why would he doubt their strength?

Most of us are the elephant in some way. You probably take calculated risks all the time, but there’s most likely a risk or two you haven’t let yourself try. Maybe you want to write a book, travel to a far-off country, hike the entire Appalachian trail, act in a play, learn an instrument, sail a boat across the Atlantic, do volunteer work in a third world country, quit your job and start your own business, buy a house, write a screenplay…

You can call it a dream if you want, but that just makes it feel even less real than it already is, since it lives in your elephant mindset. Don’t call your dream a dream anymore. Call it a goal.

There, see how that changes things immediately? It’s like focusing a lens to bring an object closer into view. A dream is far-off and vague. A goal is nearer and concrete. It’s within grasp.

What’s your goal? What’s the risk you would take if there was no chance of failure, rejection, loss of ambition, or whatever it is that stops you? Put aside the boundaries that you see around your goal. Maybe it seems impossible that you could backpack around Europe for a month, but if that’s your goal, ignore the logistics for a second (money, traveling, your job, your family, etc).

It doesn’t have to be something huge and lofty. You don’t have to become president. Maybe you want to lose 15 pounds but you’ve always believed it’s too difficult. Maybe for years you have wanted to try a new hobby like cake decorating or photography, but always stop because you think you’ll be bad at it.

Isn’t that always part of what stops us? Fearing we won’t be good enough? Mix that with the elephant mindset and you might never get up the gall to chase your goals.

Today’s challenge: Fill in the blanks of the following statements. Then take 15 minutes to free write about your goal. Question the number you chose for the second answer. Is it realistic? Does your elephant mindset force you to choose a low number? Or are you confident that you can achieve your goal? Write about your goal realistically. What scares you about it? What doesn’t scare you about it? Why is it your goal? How much does it matter to you?

  1. 1. If success could be guaranteed, my #1 goal right now would be ____________.
  2. 2. On a scale of 1 to 10, my ability to achieve this goal is ___________.

If you feel up to sharing, please leave a comment below. You can either write your entire day 1 challenge in the comments, or just give us an overview of your goal and some of the main points you wrote about. See you tomorrow for more Undoing the Elephant Mindset!


6 thoughts on “Day 1: Are You the Elephant?”

  1. Love this post Kristin! I can’t wait to go home and do the free write. My big goal of course, is to be published. My smaller goal is to finish re-writing my manuscript by April and to send out a second round of queries. My true goal is to get a literary agent…and my timeline is by my 29th birthday (3 months and 5 days away!) I don’t know if it’s realistic, but I’m hoping it will push me to work harder and to remember how much I want this. Thank you for reminding us to call our “dream” a goal to make it more tangible =)


  2. I am struggling with choosing my goal. That’s horrible. That’s probably a sign that I’m suffering the elephant mindset more than others?
    I think that I’ve grown too used to not having enough money to pay the bills and doing what I am doing for the rest of forever.

    Or maybe it’s just too hard for me to pick one goal because I have a bunch of little goals, little bucket list items that I want to do before I kick the bucket.

    So maybe it would just be easiest for me to write about the 20 “things” I want…and maybe that will fulfill the challenge?

    I want to make freelance writing a successful career, make money and work from home, doing what I love. I want to focus my writing on research and journalism, but not dull and boring research. I want to interview people about things that interest me and write books about thought-provoking ideas and philosophies. I want to learn from and write about using natural healing, mind healers and faith healers. I want to write about living a greener, better life.
    I want to be more motivated, I want to quit slacking and get tons more work done each day. I want to stop saying “I need to do THIS or THAT, but I don’t have time” I want to start making time and I want to make writing for online publishers and writing revenue shares and blogs a profitable enough career to support my family and have enough money left over to spoil ourselves, because you only live once! I want to improve my life…be more positive, live happy and healthy.

    But I can’t narrow that down into a single goal…unless it would be: “I want to be BETTER” LOL

    As for my ability to do it? 10. I can do it. Anyone can do anything they want! But how it normally feels in my head, when I’m pushing through daily tasks tied up in the ropes of stress and self-doubt? It feels like a 1.


    1. Hey Sarah, you can absolutely tackle all of these things on your list! Maybe choose the biggest, scariest, or most urgent one to focus intently on. It seem like the overarching on is to make freelance writing your main career and source of income. The only reason you haven’t accomplished the things on your list yet is because you haven’t let yourself. I think the challenge itself will actually help everyone with some of the smaller things you mention, like slacking off less (which can sometimes be a way to avoid starting something that seems too overwhelming) and being more positive (negative thoughts just breed more negative thoughts).

      I’m so glad you’re taking part in the challenge. I just scheduled tomorrow’s post and I think the questions are going to be really great for you to answer and think about. I totally understand what you mean about the 10/1 conundrum, too. In reality, anything you want to accomplish is a 10. Life and reality makes it feel like a 1, though. It’s that dichotomy that stops us from trying! If you feel like you have next to no chance of actually doing something, you probably won’t start trying.

      Best of luck and keep me posted on how this challenge helps you!



  3. Great blog Kristin. I’m not only doing this, but am having my almost 13 year old do it as well. She is beautiful, smart, and talented (has danced with the Moscow Ballet, was in a movie, etc), but she is insecure with her peer group. You know the type, walks into the school closed off…so, she is going to do this too.

    My “goal,” is to be a self-supporting writer. I don’t have to be rich, but make enough to cover the bills Hubs doesn’t pay and have some extra for fun things. Like Meredith and especially Sarah, I want to get things done, be more motivated. Let me rephrase that, my motivation is great, but with a full time job, two extremely busy girls (both dance, act), I find I’m often too exhausted to write.

    So, I want to stop talking about being a writer and actually do it (not just with the column I have in the paper for $30/month). I guess that is it. Thanks for the challenge!


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