How Do You Eat An Elephant?

Happy New Year!  I realise I am a bit late in wishing you all a HNY but I have been pretty busy . The usual post Christmas austerity has kicked in and I have been determined to start the year with everything in order: accounts (a box full of receipts, bills and invoices to customers to process); a new year’s resolution for more timely social media posts and more human interest; planning for the year ahead in terms of developing my butterfly series, fairs, exhibitions and potential collaborations to explore.

So far things have been rolling quite smoothly (yes I am surprised too).  This is all happening in conjunction with putting our house on the market (it has never been so tidy) and the ever-increasing club commitments of my children that see me driving around on seemingly endless tours of Surrey.  But it is not yet the end of January and we are on track! Obviously exercise is taking a back seat but I am drinking less wine and eating less chocolate so that has to count for something right?

But how do we keep all these boxes in check going forward?  Surely it is only a matter of time before one family member brings some nasty bug home and we all succumb, resulting in an implosion of this newly embedded – yet fragile – routine.

And how can we ensure our best laid plans are not so quickly derailed?  Tom Eatenton and events guru from Kru Live, summed it up for me in a nutshell:


What I am trying to fathom is how do you focus in a world full of distractions?  I think defining success is all important here.  For me success is the achievement of one’s goals (regardless of which area of your life they relate to).  So setting realistic goals is paramount.  I try and set 3 achievable goals for each day and whatever I do I really try to prioritise these tasks no matter what. Some days the tasks are easy but occasionally other things crop up with more urgency and displace the original goals.  This is a minor setback but no more. By and large by the end of the week I am further forward in achieving my ultimate goals by chipping away bit by bit and isn’t that what it’s all about? Afterall, Q. How do you eat an elephant? A. One bite at a time (thanks to Dad for that pearl of wisdom!).

So today’s goals are:

  1. to tie up last year’s accounts;
  2. to write my first blog post for the year; and
  3. to prep work for Valentine’s Day.
The tip of the accounting iceberg.

The distractions are innumerable:

  • Getting the children ready for school.
  • Choosing a name for a new company I’m planning on setting up.
  • Washing the children’ uniforms ready for the next day.
  • Responding to the perpetual pings of my phone alerting me to copious WhatsApp messages from multiple threads.
  • Preparing the children’s tea so they can eat on entry thereby avoid Armageddon (again).
  • Checking Facebook to ensure my response time is ‘quick enough’ (what is ‘quick enough’?)
  • Sorting any admin relating to the children (trips, labelling uniform, finding THAT show ‘n’ tell toy etc.)
  • Hovering on and around Instagram posts debating which to interact with as a way of managing my own Instagram feed (this is something I should really outsource to @the_word_spinner).
Posting, commenting, managing, liking, responding. Social media heaven or hell?
  • Remaking the children’s beds so that the house is ready for a viewing just in case.
  • Making yet another cup of tea to avoid settling down to my accounts.
  • Did I mention children?

If you are driven to succeed in what you do, you will find a way to do it.  But for me the simple 3-goal-a-day strategy allows me to keep the balance between focus and distraction so that I move forwards – and one day I will achieve my ultimate goals.  Or at the very least I will have lots of tea and chatter with my friends.

What are your strategies for success? I would love to hear from you!

Tracey Thornton is an international mixed-media artist
Originals, Prints & Products from  
Facebook @traceythorntonartist  Instagram @tracey.thornton.artist

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Tracey Thornton Artist

Tracey Thornton is a mum, wife, daughter, sister, aunty, Godmother, Fairy Godmother and friend. Oh and when she has time to be someone else, she is a represented artist and designer. Tracey also writes children's stories and blogs about anything and everything and occasionally something.

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