Eat the Frog
You’ve possibly heard the quote by Mark Twain: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” The point, though hidden under a very graphic idea, is that it brings you the most peace and happiness to do your hardest things first. Get them out of the way. Don’t spend any time worrying about doing them, just Do Them.
I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, as my workload is dramatically increasing, and the nature of it is Goodwill Hunting style ~ where I have to constantly push myself to put in the extra time, motivate myself to learn new things, prod myself to be more driven and action focused.
Do you consider yourself a procrastinator?
Or do you at least sometimes put off things that you feel like you really should be doing, and even if you feel badly for putting them off, you still continue to do so?
I’ll be the first to admit that motivation does not always come easily to me. In fact I can be an incredibly skilled procrastinator. I also grew up in an untraditional “hippie” household which glorified finding your path over planning your route.
As a young burgeoning hippie-ish person, I decided to go to college immediately after high school, but after that ~ my plan was titled: No More Planning. My only intention was to become an expert at going with the flow, and my life choices would exemplify that.
With that Go With the Flow attitude I did enjoy myself immensely in many ways. For years. I pushed myself when I had work I loved, but outside of that, I was not eating many frogs. I was doing what I wanted to do, only what I felt “moved to do”, and what would bring me fairly immediate gratification and some joy.
And eating frogs was not on my list. Doing the things that challenged me most personally didn’t fit anywhere into my carefree relatively self-indulgent lifestyle.
Then one day on a NYC subway, a woman across from me was reading “The Little Red Hen” to her daughter. For any of you unfamiliar with the story, in a nutshell it is about a little hen who works incredibly hard for her future, a tale of the importance of hard work and the consequences of laziness. It was one of those moments when you just know it is undeniably a message from the Universe, one you’re not supposed to ignore.
And literally on that subway ride I started looking differently at my non-planning life plan and how it was actually serving me. Sure, it was ok for present Jasmine but what about future Jasmine? Who was looking out for her?
I knew the time was coming to a close for to be able to live so unintentionally without real consequences waiting ahead.
I’m a person who likes to see some tangible results pretty quickly to motivate me, I think many of us feel that way. So the idea of Eat the Frog appealed to me. Do the thing ~ or things ~ that you want to do least every day. And do them first. And then feel better! When I think of all of the hours I’ve spent agonizing over things I should be doing ~ instead of just doing them… Sigh. I’m pretty sure it is a number my mind would rather not calculate.
The truth is that humans need incentives!
This video put a fire under me, I hope it does for you too. And as a bonus ~ it’s funny. :) I highly recommend watching it, it shows a unique way of looking at the timeline of your life ~ and one that may stick with you.
Think of how it feels when you are sitting in the self-judging place of procrastination and ignoring your potential. Now think of a time when you Ate The Frog, when you warrior-ed up and did that thing you thought you didn’t want to do.
! know that for me ~ the guilt I don’t feel and the sense of accomplishment I do feel when I push myself to do the hardest thing, ~ the thing I am most resistant to doing, the very thing that may propel me to the next level ~ are tangible rewards for Eating the Frog. Once you start Doing the Dang Thing, your brain kicks in, and it soon takes over. The positive responses from achieving something, whether it’s a big job or a small personal issue, trigger the brain to produce endorphins and dopamine – neurotransmitters which our brain creates to push us into more action. So in essence you get a triple positive impact ~ the satisfaction of tackling the task, the neurotransmitters which are then produced, and the additional motivation that gets added to your brain pathways.
I don’t know about you, but I want more from my life. And I want to try as many tools possible to help me reach my goals. So why not try eating the frog? There is scientific evidence to back up its effects, and as I said, for people who love some good old instant-gratification, I think that it is a powerful way to jolt the brain into sustained action.
So what are your frogs? What are the things you are putting off? The things that you wish you were doing, conversations you wish you were having, exercise you wish you were committing to, dreams you wish you were starting to pursue. The things that will bring you more peace and self-satisfaction and will get you on track to go after what you want to achieve in your one precious life.
Create three lists for yourself:
~Things you don’t want to do, but you actually need to do.
~Things you want to do and actually need to do.
~Things you want to do, but don’t actually need to do.
The frogs are the Things you don’t want to do, but actually need to do.
Get clear about what you really want to tackle first. You may have something already heavily weighing on your mind, or you may need to do some soul-searching to get clarity about what your frogs really are and which ones you want to start eating first.
So what are the benefits of tackling a frog every morning? In general that’s the time of day we’re all most productive, so you’ll be channeling your best self towards only the issues that are of the highest value to you. Then you have the rest of the day to relish the feeling of having stepped up to the plate, and also you get to do the things that come easier for you and that you like to do. You may well feel unexpectedly renewed energy towards all things that come after eating your frog. And as always, if you want to start smaller, give yourself the freedom to do that. Try eating one medium frog one day in the morning and see how it makes you feel. Give yourself credit for every frog you push yourself to eat. And the crazy thing is, as you gradually eat more and more of your frogs, it gets easier.
After all, if you can eat your biggest hardest-to-eat frog for breakfast, your day surely has more sweetness ahead for you.