Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy (Hodder & Stoughton, 2013)
Refuse to allow a weakness or a lack of ability in any area to hold you back. Everything is learnable. And what others have learned, you can learn as well.p 60
Key Points from Eat That Frog!
- Decide what you want to achieve. Set out the goals and objectives that, if you achieved, would result in genuine personal fulfilment.
- Prepare in advance, prepare well. Plan what you’re going to do beforehand so you don’t have to spend time and mental effort deliberating and deciding what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it. Set yourself up for success.
- It might seem like you have a lot to do, but there are only a few, specific things that really matter and have the most significant impact. Do those. Every time you do something else instead, you have less time to do what actually matters.
- Take each task one step at a time. Completing 100% of the task may seem daunting, but progressively completing parts of the task worth 10% each is less overwhelming. You will eventually reach 100% completion.
- Always be optimistic. Challenge negative thoughts and tendencies to complain. Don’t discourage yourself by overthinking how you’re going to “eat that frog” and then talking yourself out of it because you don’t think you can do it. Just doing something, anything to work towards your goals is the best thing you can do. Feelings of incompetence and inadequacy can be overcome this way. After all, how are you ever going to get good at anything if you never do anything?
I never thought that there would be a time in my life where the first thought on my mind when I wake up is “I need to eat my frog”, but this is exactly what I have found myself thinking every morning since I started reading Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy.
The idea behind the saying “eat that frog”, from which the title and premise of this book originate, is that the first thing you should do every day is the task that you find the most challenging, that requires the most effort from you and that ultimately brings the greatest and most important results. This task is your frog. Throughout the book, Brian Tracy emphasises that eating your biggest and ugliest frog first thing every day has several benefits, and the most salient point to me was that it can bring increased personal fulfilment.
You might be able to relate to the experience of having tasks that are important for you to complete but you procrastinate and do lots of other little tasks just to feel like you’ve at least done something. You eat the little frogs, whilst the big frog keeps jumping around, getting bigger and uglier.
That’s where ETF! comes in: it doesn’t delve into all of the psychological and behavioural theories or scientific explanations of procrastination and other habits, but its purpose is to give you practical tips for just getting started and then having the preparation, drive and tactics to continue eating your frog.*
Brian Tracy does a great job of pointing out the problems caused by procrastination on important tasks and then pinpointing specific actions you can take to overcome the inertia. ETF! is also very easy to read, with lots of imperative sentences, such as “Always work from a list” and “Make your list the night before for the workday ahead”. These sentences get straight to the point and make it so easy to initiate action, you could get up in the moment after you have read it and put what you have learned into practice (one of the chapters is literally less than 3 pages long). There have been times when I have been really demotivated and discouraged and I’ve picked up the book as a way to procrastinate. But after reading a chapter, which can be done in about 10 minutes because the chapters are so easy to read, my mind is cleared and it’s like I have a roadmap as to what to do to get over the motivation lull.
Although I think ETF! is a really good book, and I’d gladly recommend it to anyone, there are some inconsistencies in the book. For instance, at one point, Brian Tracy explains that deadlines only feed procrastination and lead to making more mistakes, but then in a later chapter, he basically says the best way to overcome procrastination is to put a deadline on yourself. Honestly, I’m still trying to make sense of what he’s trying to convey about the relationship between deadlines and procrastination. There are also some repetitive moments, particularly in that there are essentially two chapters that both say to break large tasks down into smaller, more manageable tasks. I guess he’s just trying to reiterate his point and experience has taught me that it is an effective point.
In a nutshell…
ETF! is a straight-to-the-point, just-do-it manual for those of us needing the motivation and practical inspiration to complete our toughest but most important tasks.
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*If you are looking for something that does go into a greater level of detail with regard to how habits, such as eating your frog, can be formed or changed, I recommend The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. I read both books around the same time, and I have learned so much that is already helping me to cultivate a habit of tackling and persisting on important tasks that I find challenging.