As I started writing this blog, I made the mistake of planning my sport in the afternoon. Usually, I do some sports or reading in the morning, and write my blogs in the afternoon. Today, I skipped my morning routine entirely and simply opened my laptop to start working straight out of bed. Because I broke with my own routine, I noticed I spend hours writing this blog with no progress to show for. Ironic, how I broke with my own routine to write on a blog about the importance of routines…
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habitWill Durant
Routines give us anchors to build our day around. They provide us comfort and stability. I am currently re-learning this lesson, as I started a sabbatical to write my book Celebrating Life. During the past weeks of writing my book I experienced more and more stress. It took me a while to figure out, but I finally realized the reason for this is that I did not put boundaries on my working time. Without clear boundaries, any time I am not working, there is a little voice in the back of my mind saying: “You could be writing that next chapter right now…”. In other words, I am always on. So how should I deal with this?
One amazing opportunity to start up some personal routines is the morning. In my entire life, there has been one single thing I have been able to do every single day. Without fail. And that thing is waking up! Since this is a cue that happens every single day, I can follow it up by whatever habit I want.
In the Miracle Morning, Hal Elrod identified not 1 but 6 habits to incorporate into our everyday morning. I know, he is kind of crazy about this stuff, and even if you spend just 10 minutes on every activity it’s still an hour out of your morning. But perhaps you will feel inspired to incorporate just one or two of them:
- Meditate. Just take some time for yourself to do absolutely nothing. Doing nothing means no planning, nor mentally preparing for that work meeting. Just relax and feel your body dance to the rhythm of your breath. Your body knows how to breathe.
- Personal affirmations. This one is kind of scary. Affirmations are short, powerful statements that you can repeat to yourself. “I am worth loving”. “I accept change”. “I am capable of finishing my book”. (Yeah, I have been using that last one a lot…).
- Visualize your goals. Just imagine what it will look like once you reach your goal. In my case, I imagine holding the weight of my finished book in my hands. To smell the freshly printed papers. To see the excitement on the face of one of my readers, after they finished my book. Making these visualizations very concrete makes our goals seem doable. We just need to walk the walk to get there.
- Do some exercise. Just something small to wake up the body. And don’t make it too hard either. Remember, you need to be able to do this on your best mornings as well as your worst mornings. I personally do a workout from the app “7 Minute Workout” every morning. They are super easy, so I never skip a day. And it gets my heartbeat up in the morning!
- Read a chapter of your current book. Many people have an intention to read more, but it never seems to happen. This is because there is no reading routine in place! As I said, the morning is perfect for these things. You can even set your alarm 10 minutes earlier just to get a few minutes of reading in every day. Just 10 minutes can be enough to read a chapter from many books.
- Write in your diary. If you never did this, I encourage you to give it a shot. You can just set yourself a time window of 5 minutes and start writing anything down that’s on your mind. It doesn’t need to be a coherent story, just never stop moving your pen. And see if your thoughts start flowing. This can be very helpful to process some of those difficult emotions in bite-sized chunks…
So what habit will you incorporate into your morning next?