How Making Your Bed Can Change the World

I heard this phrase for the first time recently and it really grabbed my attention: 

“If you want to change the world, make your bed!”  It was said by Admiral William McRaven during his Navy Seal Speech to the class of 2014.

At first it may sound a little silly…how could making your bed possibly relate to changing the world? Here’s how:  it’s all about daily habits.

When he was a Navy Seal he was required to make his bed every day, a seemingly small, insignificant, and inconsequential daily task.  In reality, it had a very powerful effect.

He said, “If you cannot do small things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right.”

It all starts with the little things. Those little daily habits that keep moving you toward your goal, big or small.

This quote reminded me of when I was training for my marathon, which I’ll share with you in the next section.

Why should you rely on discipline, not motivation?

It was during my marathon training that I learned the power of discipline. There were plenty of days I wasn’t feeling motivated. And if I rely on motivation alone, I would have thrown in the towel.  The long runs were hard.  Really hard.  There were times I was tired, I had a million other things to do.  And sometimes I got a tempting last minute invite.  What is the one thing that kept me on track?  Discipline.

If I didn’t stick to my training schedule, I wasn’t going to be able to finish the marathon.  There was simply no way to fake it on race day.

The concept of discipline is so powerful that you can apply to literally any area of your life…

  • Finances – Are you sticking to your spending vs saving targets?
  • Nutrition – Are you eating right most of the time, and enjoying occasional splurges?
  • Exercise – Are you prioritizing working out, and not making excuses?
  • Relationships – Are you making time to spend with loved ones?
  • Work/life harmony – Are you allocating your time appropriately?
  • Education – Are you studying every day?
  • Personal growth – Are you working on yourself daily?

What is your Deep-Seated Why?

Before we come up with a plan and discipline ourselves to stick with it, we first need to understand what’s driving our goals.  If we’re not really clear on why we’re doing what we’re doing, it’s going to be harder to achieve them.  

I explore the idea of the “deep-seated why” in SOAR by sharing a personal experience:

“I recently saw a sign that had a picture of a super-fit girl with a perfectly-sculpted body lifting weights.  It read “Want it? Work for it.”  That statement really resonated with me.  While I always aspire to have a perfectly-sculpted body, my effort doesn’t always match up with my desired outcome.  I’m like anyone else.  I have periods of time when I’m super-motivated and periods of time when I feel like powering down.  I love to operate at intense levels, but there are plenty of times where I’m not always feeling like I’m operating with high octane.”

“Sometimes I show up at the gym and find myself just going through the motions.  My body will be on auto-pilot and my head isn’t in the game.  I can be on the treadmill, but not really making progress toward my goals.  I can find myself curled up in a cozy place on the intensity spectrum, but not truly be pushing myself.  I was kinda-sort-of showing up but not bringing my A-game.  I had to get really honest with myself and ask myself, “How bad do I really want it?”  I had to revisit the reasons why I was doing this in the first place and bring my deep-seated “whys” into focus.  Reacquainting myself with the underlying motivating factors is usually all it takes to give myself the boost I need.”

Whatever you’re working toward, ask yourself why you’re doing it. How bad do you want it?  What’s driving you?  How do you want to feel when you’re on the other side of it?

Why is it important to start small?

In my book SOAR, I talk about the idea of patience and persistence in the context of spiritual growth and evolution, but the idea can be applied to any area of life.

“The commitment to become the best version of yourself begins with the realization and the acceptance that the old ways of operating won’t translate into better results.  You must be willing to adopt new practices.  It’s important to remember to go easy on yourself and not expect radical change overnight, as any large-scale, transformative endeavor takes a lot of work and patience over an extended period of time.  Keep reminding yourself that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you can’t expect that you will be either.”

It is important to remember that even though what you’re working toward may seem daunting, just start.  Take one small step in that direction today.  The Colosseum didn’t come about overnight.  Somebody laid the first brick, then the second brick, then the third.  They kept stacking the bricks, one after the other, over and over again, until the masterpiece was complete.  That’s how they do it.

I’ll end with a powerful quote from SOAR:

“We have to start somewhere, and that somewhere is right where you are, right now.”

Sending love and light your way!