Are All Habits Bad?

I recently came across a case of a woman called Jennifer Lee Dukes.  Jennifer never made her bed.  For two and half decades, starting from when she left home for college and into her 40’s, she did not make her bed because she thought the task to be an utter waste of time; the only exception being if she had guests staying, especially her mother, who for many years assumed she had passed on the bed making habit to her daughter. Then…..

Then one morning, Jennifer decided to make her bed.  She then went onto to make her bed for four days in a row and then, in Jennifer’s words “the craziest things started happening” – after making her bed she went onto pick up a stray sock, then a bobby pin and then a small stack of unfolded clothes from the bedroom floor;  she didn’t want the clutter messing with, as she puts it, “her serene sanctuary”.

It Didn’t Stop at the Bedroom…

Jennifer then went to the kitchen and tidied up in there; she even reorganised her tupperware cupboard, lit 3 candles and set a metal pig (a wine cork holder) in the centre of the work surface as a conversation piece.  All this, just because she had made her bed – Jennifer says “my act of bed-making had set off a chain of small household tasks…I felt like a woman who had miraculously pulled herself up from the energy-sucking Bermuda Triangle of Household Chaos”.

Jennifer was experiencing the Domino Effect.

The Domino Effect….

Do you remember playing domino’s as a child or at any point in your life?  You line the domino’s up, standing in any shape or just a row and then you knock down the first domino, and that sets of the reaction where each domino falls in turn.

The Domino Effect is essentially like the game but instead of Domino’s it’s behaviour instead.   So by making a change to one behaviour, it can activate a chain reaction and lead to change in other related behaviours too.  So using Jennifer as an example, the act of making her bed set of a chain reaction of tidying her bedroom and then her kitchen.  So essentially, it’s one thing leading to another.

The Domino Effect can also happen with negative habits too.  Ever noticed how just “quickly” checking your phone can lead to you clicking on social media notifications which lead to the habit of browsing social media apps like Facebook and before you know it, it’s lead to another 20 minutes of procrastination!  I quite often hear from my clients who want to loose weight how they start the day off well, but they will have something they feel they shouldn’t have, then continue to do so for the rest of the day because they feel they’ve “ruined” it for that day.  One negative thing, leading to more – the Domino Effect.

Creating Good Habits….

The Domino Effect isn’t something that just happens to you, you can create it to.  You have everything you need to create a chain reaction of good habits and stop any negative chain reactions before they gain momentum.  To stop negative habits it’s simple a matter of recognising when you are doing it.

To create a Domino Effect of good habits, simply start with something you are motivated to do.  No matter how small, for example, if you don’t already, start each day making your bed and then move to the next task you are motivated to do, so you maintain that motivation, letting each task no matter what it is, carry you onto the next behaviour.  Don’t’ force it, just let it happen and you may be surprised how much more you get done.

A Navy Seal Once Said…..

I imagine there are many in-depth theories in relation to the Domino Effect, how and why it works but I quite like how Naval Adm. William McRaven of the Navy SEAL’s puts it, in relation to why making your bed every morning matters:

“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”.

I believe it is just that, I think doing one good thing makes you feel good, and it encourages you to do another which continues that good feeling.  And lets face it, who doesn’t want to feel good.

What Good Habits Could You Do Today….?

So what good habits could you start doing today?  Make your bed, give the house a quick tidy, put your washing on….keep it small and let the momentum of good habits run away with you.

On another note.  Do you sometimes find, finding the momentum or energy for even the smallest of tasks difficult?  If you do, lets have a chat, so we can talk about how I can help you get your momentum back and be the person you want to be.