Eat the Frog

Eat the Frog

Jay PayleitnerBy Jay Payleitner5 Minutes

Book Excerpt from What If God Wrote Your To-Do List?: 52 Ways to Make the Most of Every Day by Jay Payleitner


Consider this healthy strategy for achieving greatness in 2021:

“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

This quotation is often attributed to Mark Twain, but was most likely first spoken by the eighteenth century French playwright and street orator, Nicolas Chamfort.

So what does it mean? Well, I’m fairly sure Chamfort wasn’t suggesting we keep a supply of carnivorous, tailless amphibians in the fridge to munch on before our Cheerios.

One interpretation is that eating a live frog for breakfast is a strategy for making sure you have a productive day. What’s worse than looking back at a perfectly good day and realizing you haven’t done squat? Sure, once in a while you need to take a vacation day. But most days you want to do something big. Eating a frog may not seem worthwhile or valuable, but you have to admit, it’s not a small task.

Early morning frog feasting may also be a pretty good strategy when faced with a long list of things to do. Tackle the most challenging project first. When that initial huge burden is complete, suddenly the rest of your chores don’t seem so onerous.

Maybe it was Chamfort’s tactic for overcoming procrastination. If you’ve been dragging your feet and delaying a project, it may be a good idea to bounce out of bed tomorrow morning, hold your nose, and finally swallow that frog.

I can’t imagine Nicolas Chamfort or Mark Twain heading off to Gold’s Gym or Planet Fitness. But I know I would probably feel healthier, stronger, and wiser if I got up every morning and sweat for an hour or so. (It’s not going to happen though. For me, that sounds about as attractive as eating a live frog.)

With that in mind, maybe a daily workout is my designated edible frog. Which leads to the question, what’s yours?

What frog should you eat sooner rather than later? It doesn’t have to be something disgusting. It’s just identifying something you can do every morning that will significantly improve the rest of your day or week.

Getting exercise is obvious. Walking around the block. Spending fifteen minutes on the treadmill or elliptical. A few sun stretches and downward dogs to loosen your muscles and get your blood flowing.

Maybe investing twenty minutes to clear your inbox and briefly check social media, and then closing down those distractions until after lunch might be an expeditious way to start the day. Or don’t even peek at a screen at all until after lunch. Is that something you can do?

If you’re typically still in your jammies at noon, then showering, teeth brushing, and dressing might be your frog.

If your mornings consistently begin bleary-eyed and nonproductive, then maybe you need to start your day with a light, healthy breakfast. (Getting to bed a bit earlier might also be a good idea.)

It’s a far cry from actually eating a frog, but a regular meeting with an accountability partner could reboot your entire outlook on life. Being open and honest once a week with a trusted accomplice will help you filter out the crud in your life and commit to pursuing truth, beauty, and grace.

Eating a frog (figuratively speaking) takes courage and discipline. But the rewards are many. Hebrews 12:11 promises, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

Finally—and this will come as no surprise—the most beneficial choice you can make every morning is to read a chapter or two from Scripture and journal your discoveries.

Psalm 119:103 even promises, “How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”

Doesn’t that sound tastier than a frog? 

Stay hungry,


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