First of all relax…this is not toad-based dietary guidance. It’s 170 year old advice.
There’s a motivational adage that’s been kicking around since the 1850s that originated with French witticist Nicholas Chamfort:
“We should swallow a toad every morning, in order to fortify ourselves against the disgust of the rest of the day.”
Then there’s this from Emile Zola in 1896:
“Young man,” he says, in effect, to the candidate for laurels who seeks his advice, “one thing above all is essential to a literary career. It is not that you should learn your business, or that you should profit by the counsel of those who point out your shortcomings, or that you should cultivate the modesty of true genius, even if genius be lacking. It is that you should learn to swallow a live frog every morning before sitting down to your daily task. Take my experience.”
And its been attributed to Mark Twain in this version:
Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.
So what does all this eating of amphibians mean and how does it relate to downsizing? Allow me to throw around another analogy to explain that. We coach our clients to start the process of downsizing by handling the “low hanging fruit.” Every transition is a mix of hard and easy things to do. The tasks that are easy to get done are the best to start with. Early success builds up confidence, energy and momentum.
Eventually you have to address the harder tasks. Those are your toads. These are the tasks that you dread. If you stick with only handling the easy stuff, you’re going to be stuck with a whole lot of hard stuff at your transition gets closer. And make no mistake, a pile of hard stuff brings plenty of extra stress with it.
So as you work things through, start your day by eating one of your toads. A dreaded hard thing gets checked off first thing and that makes the rest of the tasks you do that day taste like dessert.
(Read about how the eat a toad quote evolved here.)