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Sometimes life can feel overwhelming. We look all around us and see nothing but absolute chaos. Your bank account is getting low, your coach is always yelling at you, the political landscape is a nightmare, and some crazy uncle on Facebook thinks the world will be over by the end of the week. Not to mention the 20 other little things you need to get done this week.
When you find yourself in this state, you see problems everywhere. Despite this fact, you may still think you have some solutions. The only problem is that you don’t even know where to begin.
Here’s the first step: Make your bed
It may seem unrelated, trivial, and irrelevant compared to everything else that needs to get done, but it’s the first place you should start.
Here are three reasons why:
1) It doesn’t require any thinking
The issue that we face with many of our tasks is that they require both thinking and action. And when you are trying to go from zero to one, it can be more challenging to get the first action started if it requires a complex thought process. Making your bed requires next to no thinking. All you have to do is start, your brain already knows the next steps.
2) It starts a chain reaction
When you start with making your bed, you set your mind and body into motion. At the beginning, making your bed will seem annoying, but once it’s done you’ll wonder why you never did it in the first place. You’ll look at your bed and instantly feel a sense of accomplishment and along with a little bit of clarity. As a matter of fact, you’ll most likely be inspired to get started on the next thing. You may even find yourself cleaning the rest of your room, reading that book that’s been collecting dust, getting yourself early to the gym, or stretching before you go to bed.
When we have certain tasks to accomplish throughout our day, we often worry more about the ones that will be the most challenging. We spend all our time and effort thinking about what needs to get done in order to complete our more challenging tasks, and as a result, we end up spending so much time overthinking this one task that we miss all the little ones that should have been done first. By starting small and working your way up the chain, eventually, that difficult task becomes far less daunting and easy compared to how it felt in the morning. There is power in momentum, so use it to your advantage by starting with the easy stuff.
3) It gives you a fail-safe
Some days just suck, there’s no way around it. You had a bad practice, you miss your family, you didn’t sleep well the night before, or you didn’t accomplish anything you set out to do that day. These days are inevitable and they can be even more deflating when you come home to a messy living space and bed that’s never been made. When you make you bed in the morning you give your future self a gift. A special treat that you can come home to at the end of a really bad day and say to yourself “well I’m not a total failure, at least I made my bed”. You should always be striving to make the most out of every single day but on the days when you don’t, at the very least, you should have made your bed.
Go Make Your Bed!
This week’s challenge is really quite simple. Make your bed for the next 7 days. Whether it’s in the first minutes after you get up, while you’re brushing your teeth, or even half way through your day. Do it for just 7 days and notice how it makes you feel.
Do you ever regret doing it? How hard was it? Did it make you want to do more things right after?
I cannot guarantee that making your bed will always inspire you and kick-start you into a productive state of mind. But I can guarantee that you will always have that one thing you can feel good about, regardless of how the rest of your day turns out.
As athletes, this is a useful exercise and lesson that can be applied to your athletic development. So often we look towards our future aspirations and they feel incredibly far away. We start thinking about all the steps involved in getting there and we begin to feel overwhelmed with no clue what to do next. You could always start with making your bed, but that isn’t exactly specific to your sport. So, then the real question is this:
What is the “making your bed” equivalent for you?
Is it stretching first thing in the morning? Maybe it’s meditating? Could you potentially focus on eating a healthier breakfast?
Whatever it is, find something small that can begin a chain reaction for your day and experiment with it. See what works, find what doesn’t, and utilize the ones that set you up for a productive day.