05 Mar Small Tasks, Big Changes
“If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter…. If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”
The University of Texas Commencement Speech by Admiral William H. McRaven given on May 17, 2014 and included in his book: Make Your Bed: Little Things that can Change Your Life…and Maybe the World
Sometimes life gives us more than we are prepared to handle. This is especially true when it comes to the ups and downs of parenting. As our children grow into their independence, we quickly learn there is much in life out of our control. To add to the pressure, we often focus on the goals and potential of our children to a degree that we rarely afford ourselves. Our scrutiny of their performance and well-being is because we believe we can affect the outcome of their happiness by closely monitoring the process of their lives. This constant vigilance is stressful and often times, not imminently rewarding. It’s very possible that your kids are content in this moment in time, but still, their future is on the horizon along with a lot of unknowns. Where will they go to college? Will they go to college? How will they financially support themselves? These are a few of the questions that keep me up at night along with my current, everyday concerns regarding my boys. There are days it all feels like too much.
When reading Admiral McRaven’s book detailing his viral UT commencement speech, I was struck by how the lessons he shared were applicable to real life and even to parenting. The first one about simply making your bed every day resonated deeply. There are so many uncontrollable variables in life that it feels comforting to complete a daily task in which you have a consistent end result. If making your bed every day isn’t in the cards, pick something else that you do each day and complete that task with care and attention. It could be feeding your dogs, wiping your table of crumbs post-breakfast, brushing your teeth, packing a lunch,…whatever it is, take the time to focus on it and do it with purpose. As you honor the smaller of tasks in your life, it sets you up for conquering bigger challenges with the same attention to detail.
For the past week not only have I made my bed each morning, which is something I do most days, but I have taken my time with it and paused to admire the fruits of my labor. It has had a positive internal effect for me. It has given me a sense of pride and put back a little belief in myself where some of my confidence has gone. There are lots of ways as a mom, a wife, a parent and a writer that I would love to improve on, but for today, at least I made my bed and it looks awesome.
Maybe someday I will change the world. Maybe you will, too.
Click the link below to hear a condensed version of Admiral McRaven’s speech. Even if you didn’t make your bed today, this is sure to inspire you:
Written by Diana DeVaul, MSW and Parent