The elephant or the rider – who is really in charge?
It’s that time of year when we start to think about what we need to complete or let go of so we can start the new year in all its potential.
I don’t know about you but I tend to go into November feeling a little panicky and overwhelmed over all the things that I must finish before the year end and I can start to blame myself for not yet achieving the results or goals that I’d set myself. I start saying things like,
- I’m just too tired
- I’ve lost my motivation
- I have no willpower
- I’m so over myself
- I have no energy…
If this sounds all too familiar, I’d like you to pause for just a moment and ask yourself, who is in charge here – the elephant or the rider?
The what and the who ? !
The elephant and the rider is a phrase coined by psychologist Jonathan Haidt in his wonderful book, The Happiness Hypothesis, where he explains the struggles between our emotional and rational brain . Haidt wrote that our emotional side is the elephant and our rational, decision making side is the rider.
For you to end the year on a high, and go into 2020 feeling confident and energised, you are going to have to get the elephant and the rider to work together. To achieve your goals and dreams in all areas of life you need the energy and drive of the elephant along with the rider’s ability to dream and create a clear plan to achieve those dreams.
Can you see the problem?
When you are sitting on top of the elephant, the rider holds the reins and seems to be in charge. But the rider’s control is precarious because the rider is so small compared to the elephant. Anytime the elephant and the rider disagree about which direction to go, the rider is going to lose because he’s completely over powered.
This is exactly what’s happening when you procrastinate, get angry, say something mean, keep quiet when you want to speak up. It’s why you stop taking care of your health and wellbeing or give up on a class or a hobby… all of these are examples of your elephant overpowering your rider.
So how on earth do you get a 6 tonne elephant to go in the direction you want.
Your elephant needs that emotional connection to your goals and dreams, along with a clear path to that vision because your emotions are what provide you with the energy, drive, and the power for the journey. Your elephant can be easily overwhelmed so make sure it knows the small steps along the way and celebrate each small win to keep it motivated and moving along the path.
Your rider needs clear direction towards your goals with small steps in place to achieve those goals and then of course it will be able to solve any challenges that may come up along the way.
And of course, the path you take is also important. To be able to create a vision, build the right environment, understand what the obstacles are and how to get rid of them is crucial to your success.
If you’d like to finish the year on a high and feel you need support to keep your elephant on the path, then book in some time with me and we can work together in making your elephant and rider work together and ensure 2020 is your best year yet.