Keeping it real and using science to explain

Little task, big changes

New Years, New beginnings. But positive, lasting changes don’t have to start with big efforts. Here’s how starting our day with small tasks can help us get the big things right.

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Words from a retired Naval officer, and a Nurse Practitioner, about how small tasks can make a big difference.

Admiral William McRaven, a retired Navy SEAL and architect of the Bin Laden raid, spoke at a 2014 Graduation commencement speech at the University of Texas, Austin. His speech went viral. His words struck the perfect cord, and his call to action was an inspiring lesson for millions. He explained that we each have the power to make positive changes – by starting with the small daily tasks.

Here’s what Admiral McRaven had to say:

“Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Vietnam veterans, would show up in my barracks room. The first thing they would inspect was your bed. If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack — that’s Navy talk for bed.

“It was a simple task — mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle-hardened SEALs. But the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.

“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.”

If we were to follow Admiral McRaven’s narrative, then we would start the New Year right by starting it with those simple tasks. Your day does not necessarily have to start with making your bed, or inspecting all household beds to ensure that they have been made (although as a mother of three, I do like this idea.)

As a nurse practitioner, I do have one suggestion. There is a little thing that you can do that not only helps your smile, but studies show that it can also prevent heart disease and stroke. Simply flossing your teeth.

You may be surprised to learn that many conditions such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, HIV, osteoporosis, and arthritis, can be aggravated by plaque bacteria and periodontal disease. Flossing helps with keeping both at bay. And if we’re to go with Admiral McRaven’s narrative, it might help get a few more health tasks right – eating more veggies at lunch; stopping at the gym on your way home; getting to sleep an hour earlier.

So why not make your it New Year ‘health task’ of the day? You may find that yourself fitting a few of your new years resolutions into your normal routine.

Today, is the 3rd of January. So why not give yourself a chance to make those positive changes by reminding yourself of the words of Admiral McRaven…

“don’t go anywhere until you’ve made your bed.”


….and the words of a nurse practitioner…

“and don’t forget to floss your teeth.”


Happy New Year folks!

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