• Shannon Aardsma

Getting My Life On Track

I have been seriously slacking when it comes to...well, everything. I had huge plans for this summer: do tons of writing, get in shape, have a better sleep schedule, practice archery more, etc. Somehow that never happened. But yesterday I decided I wasn't going to settle for simply lazing my summer away. I am going to push myself to accomplish my goals, and I started today. I got up early, exercised, made breakfast, and sat on the front porch to do my morning devotions and writing. And I feel so much better now that I have! It's a chilly, rainy morning but I love rain and it is beautiful and quiet out here. I even saw a young turkey on the lawn. Even after just one morning of actually being productive and "adulting" I feel much more motivated and ok with life. I decided that, even though I would rather be able to make money through online writing submissions and eventually through published novels, if I have to get an "actual" job at the end of the summer, that's ok. It might even be fun.

My encouragement to you is to chase your dreams, work towards your goals, and don't settle for anything less. I don't have a magic formula for productivity, but I do know that for me at least, waking up early and actually doing something works best. Once I've waisted the whole morning, I no longer feel like there is any reason to do anything. But if I make myself stay away from the distractions of social media, youtube, and a certain online writing group I am a part of, I can get a lot done and I feel so good about myself for having done so. All it takes is...WILLPOWER. Ok, ok, I know willpower is hard to come by. Toad from the "Frog and Toad" book series by Arnold Lobel (yes, I still love these books 😜) knows this all too well as we see from the Cookies story. Even though this is already a longer blog post than I normally write, I'm going to make it longer and share a few thoughts on willpower. So, here is the story I am referring to:

Toad baked some cookies. “These cookies smell very good,” said Toad. He ate one. “And they taste even better,” he said. Toad ran to Frog’s house. “Frog, Frog,” cried Toad, “taste these cookies that I have made.”

Frog ate one of the cookies, “These are the best cookies I have ever eaten!” said Frog.

Frog and Toad ate many cookies, one after another. “You know, Toad,” said Frog, with his mouth full, “I think we should stop eating. We will soon be sick.”

“You are right,” said Toad. “Let us eat one last cookie, and then we will stop.” Frog and Toad ate one last cookie. There were many cookies left in the bowl.

Frog,” said Toad, “let us eat one very last cookie, and then we will stop.” Frog and Toad ate one very last cookie. “We must stop eating!” cried Toad as he ate another.

“Yes,” said Frog, reaching for a cookie, “we need willpower.”

“What is willpower?” asked Toad.

“Willpower is trying hard not to do something you really want to do,” said Frog.

“You mean like trying hard not to eat all these cookies?” asked Toad.

“Right,” said Frog.

Frog put the cookies in a box. “There,” he said. “Now we will not eat any more cookies.”

“But we can open the box,” said Toad.

“That is true,” said Frog.

Frog tied some string around the box. “There,” he said. “Now we will not eat any more cookies.”

“But we can cut the string and open the box.” said Toad.

That is true,” said Frog.

Frog got a ladder. He put the box up on a high shelf. “There,” said Frog. “Now we will not eat any more cookies.”

“But we can climb the ladder and take the box down from the shelf and cut the string and open the box,” said Toad.

“That is true,” said Frog.

Frog climbed the ladder and took the box down from the shelf. He cut the string and opened the box.

Frog took the box outside. He shouted in a loud voice.

“Hey, birds, here are cookies!” Birds came from everywhere. They picked up all the cookies in their beaks and flew away.

“Now we have no more cookies to eat,” said Toad sadly.

“Not even one.”

“Yes,” said Frog, “but we have lots and lots of willpower.”

“You may keep it all, Frog,” said Toad. “I am going home now to bake a cake.”

I love Frog's solution: get rid of the distraction. It can be very hard to stay away from whatever is distracting us when it is right there in front of us. So if you're distracted by the internet, turn it off on your computer/phone or if you have the option and ability, go somewhere without internet. I did this for a few hours a day earlier this summer to help me write. I walked down to a bridge near my house so I wouldn't have the ability to get on the internet, and I made good progress on my book. My point is, whatever is distracting you - get rid of it if you can, even for a short amount of time. Find someone to hold you accountable if you need to; I promise you it's worth it. :) Of course, the first place you should always turn for help is God. Pray about your future, pray about your present, and pray for the strength to do what it takes to get to where He's leading you. And as you start to make progress, thank Him. If you're following His will, He is going to help you and I think it's only fair that He get the thanks He deserves. So go do something! Go write that scene you've been stuck on and avoiding, go practice that piano song, go...do whatever it is you've been putting off. I challenge you to make the necessary changes in your life that will allow you to live your best life given whatever situation you are in. And if you need an accountability partner in this, go find one! Shoot me an email if you have to. I'd love to help you out, friend! And I believe in you. You've got this! You really can accomplish your goals. Don't give up on yourself. 🙂

There. I have delivered my challenge. "This is your mission should you choose to accept it." My question is - will you accept it?

P. S. Here's a little something on willpower which I hope you will enjoy:

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