Did you make your bed today?
That’s the question Admiral William H. McRaven wanted the graduates of the University of Texas at Austin to ask themselves every day as their first step in changing the world.
It’s a humorous but provocative question, because it instantly forces us to consider the state of order in our private world. So…did you? Did you make your bed? Is your house and office uber cluttered? Is your calendar out of control? Do you have too many irons in the fire? Is there no balance in your work/life? Is “scattered” your middle name?
Well. It could be your life is more disordered than ordered. And if it is, I guarantee it is having a negative impact on your state of well-being.
How can it not?
Order is one of the 6 life factors that influence the state of our well-being. And by well-being, I mean the sum of our happiness, comfort and self-image.
Here’s the rundown, again, of all 6 Life Factors:
Your physical health
Your inner world (mind, heart & soul)
Your sense of order (vs. chaos and disarray)
Your purpose (including work and career)
This summer I am exploring what it will take for us to pay attention to our well-being so that we can take steps toward improving it. Here was the introduction. Last week I did some musing on the state of our physical health. This week I want to consider and evaluate the order (or disorder) of our worlds.
This may feel like meddling.
Sorry. Not sorry.
Still wondering about the state of order in your world? Pondering the chaos level of your life? Here are 5 signs that indicate you have an order issue.
- You are always apologizing for something.
Sorry I’m late! Sorry that took so long! Sorry, I’ve been meaning to write you! Sorry I didn’t call right away! Sorry, I forgot my appointment! Sorry I didn’t get to paying that bill! Sorry, I must have forgotten all about that thing your whole life is hinging on!
It’s possible that those questions don’t phase you, because perpetual procrastinators and overly busy folk never have the time to sit and think about why they never have the time. Thus, they are oblivious to their chaos and just used to saying “Sorry!”
- Your work/life balance is anything but balanced.
I hate teeter-totters. Always have. As I child I once got stuck in the air as a big bully slammed his side to the ground. He then proceeded to bounce me up and down. I was scared out of my wits. I probably needed therapy. This may be what your work/life balance looks like. Work is the big ol’ bully keeping the rest of your life dangling.
- You are always putting out fires.
Ever said something like this: “I work best when I’m up against it” or “I work best under pressure”? I think what you mean is that because your life is disordered, everything eventually turns into a fire that needs tending. You always have a checklist of just one thing. It’s labeled “emergency!“ because with no order in your world, no thought-through agenda, then all the things become crises and, yes, then you had better be able to work under pressure.
- Every space of yours is cluttered.
Here’s where I gotta come clean…pun intended. Right now, if you walked into my office and checked out my desk, I think you would be impressed. Everything has a place and it’s in it. But if you ever show up and do a surprise spot inspection of my work space, I might well be mortified. This is because clutter comes upon me with regularity. And when it does, documents disappear, my airpods vanish and I end up with half our coffee mugs surrounding my computer. Literally, my life gets sluggish and I have to force myself into a cleaning jag to right my world.
Don’t mention my car.
- You are a shotgun, not a rifle.
You have your hands in all the things. A little bit of this, a little bit of that. You dabble but a lot of the stuff you do is, admittedly, done half-way. You have not found the essential.
Did I meddle? Did I get it right about you?
What to do about the disorder? We’ll leave that for a bit later in the summer. Right now, I’m just trying to raise awareness of the state of your well-being. How goes it? Are you struggling, subsisting, satisfied or soaring?
Stay tuned! And meanwhile, pay attention to your life!
Oh, and it might be a good idea to follow the advice of Admiral McRaven:
“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 can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right. And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better. If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”