Fix Those Broken Windows

Summary: The smallest details in your life can snowball. Fix the broken windows before they get out of control. (Tweet This!)

I have broken windows everywhere. They are on my kitchen counters, in my car, even in my bed.

They aren't real broken windows, but these metaphorical broken windows:

"The broken windows theory is a criminological theory of the norm-setting and signaling effect of urban disorder and vandalism on additional crime and anti-social behavior. The theory states that maintaining and monitoring urban environments to prevent small crimes such as vandalism, public drinking and toll-jumping helps to create an atmosphere of order and lawfulness, thereby preventing more serious crimes from happening."

Imagine all the stuff about crime in that above paragraph doesn't exist. What you'd have left is small amounts of disorder leads to bigger and bigger disorder.

Broken Windows

On my kitchen counter one glass left out of the dishwasher invites more glasses to be left out. One paper receipt left in the car invites more. Before long, there is serious disorder and mess.

I rarely make my bed. For the first 35 years of my life, I simply didn't the point. Now I'm starting to see it as a broken window that leads to mess in the rest of my bedroom.

I wondered if anyone else felt the same way. I searched the web to find out why people make their bed. One of the top answers I saw came from Gretchen Rubin relating this courtesy of a Navy Seal:

"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."

What really knocked my socks off is the afterwards when she states that "an unmade bed is a broken window." And then my socks were thrown around the room when I read she had an article about broken windows, which makes the same point I wanted to make with this article. It is a great feeling when someone you recognize as an expert validates your opinion.

The smallest seemingly insignificant details in your life can snowball. Don't let them. Fix the broken windows before they get out of control.

Further Reading/Viewing:

I first read about the Broken Windows theory in Malcolm Gladwell's critically acclaimed, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.

And just for a little fun, here's one of my favorite commercials from childhood which happens to be about broken windows:

Don't read too much into the religious nature of the commercial. It would be many more years before I knew who Latter Day Saints or the Mormons were. I simply thought it was a very cool message about doing the right thing, even when it isn't the easy thing.

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Be Better Now

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