The power of habit

The holidays are a wonderful opportunity to reconnect, reflect and reset. I also can’t help but continue to learn, and on this break I began researching habits and how I can use them to become more effective in my teaching and learning.

In his commencement address at the University of Texas in 2014, US Navy Admiral William McRaven spoke about the power of one simply habit, such as making your bed each morning:

“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.”

In The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg calls daily bed making a “keystone habit”, something that kickstarts a chain of other good decisions throughout the day, and that gives you a sense of “taking charge”.

So, what is the lesson for the boys (apart from getting them to pull up the doona)? It is that developing consistent learning habits – whether it is recording homework at the end of every class, or reading for 20 minutes each night – is effective for their learning and wellbeing. And although we are now halfway through the year, it is never too late to begin.

In his New York Times bestseller Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World, William McRaven elaborates on the benefits of making your bed:

“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.”

Christian Machar
Head of Middle School Humanities