by Adeola Oke
If anyone tells you they eat frogs, what will your reaction be? I can imagine your irritated or surprised face and possibly saying, "That's weird."
Although weird, this catchy phrase is Brain Tracy’s bestseller book title, Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating. The absurdity is not only an attention grabber but a call out of our comfort zone, as it takes more intentionality and doggedness for anyone to do something out of the ordinary. The metaphor of eating a frog shows the importance of prioritizing one’s work. The "Frog" represents the most important and, many times, difficult task you need to accomplish. Learning how to eat a frog would take extra effort, but once done consistently, it would become a delight.
Like many people, I tend to push down my most difficult tasks, but once done, a heavy burden is lifted from my shoulders. The most gratifying thing about eating my frog sometimes is the excuse to reward myself. Brian Tracy's Eat That Frog talks about setting clear goals, planning, and prioritizing effectively. Goal setting helps you to identify where you want to be, and planning is establishing the steps to get there.
“People with goals succeed because they know where they're going.” — Earl Nightingale.
As the year is coming to an end, many people are in a reflection mode, evaluating their accomplishments and where they fell short. Regardless of your progress, it is never too late to try accomplishing your goals or set new ones with an effective strategy. It is never too late to Eat That Frog. The experience can lead to discomfort, fear, anxiety, and more, but with the right strategy, you will also feel empowered and motivated.
A recommended way to start eating that frog is by serving it appealingly; write down your goals using the SMART goals strategy. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This acronym has been used successfully and is a proven guide to accomplishing many goals.
To set a specific goal, you have to be sure of the result you want to achieve. Instead of "I want to transition into tech," say, "I want to get a Product Design certificate.” This strategy gives clarity and eliminates the distraction of the multiple options available.
For a goal to be measurable, establish action-based criteria that you can count. Let’s change our prior sentence from “I want to get a Product Design certificate” to “I will complete the Product Design Course on Cousera by watching one training video per day.”
Are your goals attainable? Setting a goal beyond your capacity can sometimes be a set-up for failure. Unrealistic goals can make you frustrated, exhausted, and tempted to quit. While there is a measure of faith, one must have to aspire to something greater; it is worth reflecting on the steps you have to take to ensure your goals are attainable. Is it possible to complete a 6-week Product Design Course on Cousera by watching one training video per day? Yes!
Ensure you set a relevant goal. Are your goals based on regrets of the past, or are they based on your present moments and the future? There is a Yoruba saying, “Ile ni a nwo ki a to so omo loruko.” Meaning we examine the house to name a child. This saying emphasizes the importance of relevance in naming things - not just children but our goals. Why are your goals important to where or who you are? How are your goals relevant to who you’re trying to become?
Last but not least, your goals must be timely! Establish a clear timeline for when you want to achieve your goal. Do not say, “I will complete the Product Design Course on Cousera by watching one training video per day.” It is more effective to say, "I will complete the 6-week Product Design Course on Cousera by watching one video per day between November 15 to December 30.”
“Without goals and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.” — Fitzhugh Dodson.
Goal setting and planning go hand in hand. Planning is like setting the GPS from your starting point to your destination. Whenever I visit a new place, I feel more confident using Google Maps. I am assured that I won't miss my path and arrive on time. A goal with a plan makes you eat the frog much more enthusiastically!
There are other recommended goal-setting books, including The Success Principles by Jack Canfield, Make Your Bed by Admiral William, and Who Moved My Cheese? by Dr. Spencer Johnson! I hope you read and enjoy them.
The first career I remember ever desiring to become was a teacher. I grew up watching my mother be one at a few schools and found a home in the academic environment. Her work and identity as a teacher didn’t stop at school; you could see it from how she raised us to be learners and apprentices of knowledge.
Unlike other students whose academic intelligence came naturally, mine needed extra effort. Since my sister was a class ahead, my mother ensured that during holidays, I read most of my sister’s school subject notes in preparation for the next term. Then, before tests, she would ensure I read the assigned portions repeatedly and ask me questions with pankere, a whipping cane, evoking the fear of God in me. This fear stirred prompt responses to her questions, and for the most part, I passed with flying colors.