I neatly made my bed this morning and grinned when I recalled: this is my first victory today. Joshua and Ryan from theminimalists.com inspired me as “An early-morning achievement sets the tone for the rest of your day, establishes a pattern of success, and leads to a more productive day overall (…) A successful day begins with your first win.”
I usually make my bed after I wake up, but to think of it as my first win feels great. I feel good about myself and it primes me to keep up the good work (more about priming in this post). What makes it even better is that it’s easy to make my bed and that it gives direct satisfaction – to start my day with a success was never simpler.
However, some people are kind enough to remind me this is just the beginning: after I’ve made my bed at 06:30, I should probably drink a huge glass of water, exercise, meditate, eat oatmeal cooked with nonfat milk, topped with chunky natural almond butter, chia seeds and – whatever.., shower (cold), listen to music to relax for a while and then mindfully float to work.
Surely this is awesome. The thing is I tried and miserably failed to keep up this ‘routine’ for more than three days. Before I knew it, I fell back into proper snoozing and sandwiches on the bike instead. I’m not Superman.
Even if you start small (just making your bed), it is very hard to structurally change behaviour. A concept that I found useful in this respect is the idea of ‘habit gravity’ and ‘escape velocity’ by Eben Pagan from wake up productive. The idea is that it’s easy to start, hard to push through, but that it gets easy in the end again. See it like this:
The first days it’s easy and fun to try something new like making your bed. But, as time passes old habits like snoozing and racing to work kick back in and resistance grows. Habit gravity puts us in front of a steep challenge and it’s most common to give up on good intentions in this stage of the process. It’s worth though to go on and build active resistance: if you fight your way through, you’ll reach a momentum big enough to defy your old habit (‘escape velocity’). Around day 30 the hard part is over and by that time you make your bed without even thinking about it. You built a new habit.
Who knows what grows out of this little victory early in the day? For sure it makes me happy and I already look forward to making my bed tomorrow morning – then again, I’m only at day three, the war isn’t won yet.