The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.– Samuel Johnson
Talk of morning routines can be sticky and uncomfortable.
We all have our own routines, habits, and established ways of doing things. Each time we do anything repeatedly, our brains form a neural pathway — think of them like shortcuts — affirming those tasks or choices.
With continued repetition, that shortcut becomes a highway — regardless of whether that habit is a help or hindrance to your purpose and life. (This is also why we’re creating an entire program called The Focus Factor to help shift habits and routines. Click here to get on the list and be notified when it’s released!)
So changing our routines — particularly those that are most comfortable, like our morning routine — causes us discomfort because they are so entrenched within us.
At the same time, everyone these days is telling you that you should reboot your morning routine to achieve more, be more productive, yada yada. So you have found yourself wondering how to change yours or create a new one.
As a result, you might be setting your alarm for 6am in an attempt to squeeze in that zoom class before you meditate, sit down to journal, and then bake three loaves of sourdough— all before you tackle the rest of the other routiney, listy stuff you try to “fit in” to your day.
Sort of exhausting, right?
Part of the challenge is that pre-COVID, most of us lived our lives on autopilot. There was a cadence to our existence and it sort of took care of itself.
In the midst of this pandemic, however, the days are all starting to feel the same.
And yet, if you have been listening instead of reacting, you know that in all this craziness you have a brilliant opportunity to re-write your story.
You do have the chance to re-choreograph your mornings to be impactful, powerful, and even transformational — but that doesn’t mean that you should be trying to cram in a million things before 7am. (Exhaustion ≠ Productive)
Reclaiming Your Morning
The secret is to reclaim your mornings in service of your purpose and in whatever way is most beneficial for you.
For most of us, that means that we should craft a morning practice that allows us to begin our day gently, peacefully, and in an organized fashion. It means that we should start by giving ourselves a little TLC! (Tender, Loving Care to stay on the right side with the acronym police!)
Maybe that TLC means silently and mindfully sipping your tea. Perhaps for you it’s some sort of dynamic movement (e.g. Yoga, running, etc.). Or it could be journaling or free-writing.
But whatever it is, the key is to find something that nourishes you and serves your purpose because doing so is what will ultimately fuel everything else.
I’ll be the first to admit, my morning routine is not perfect. And that’s ok.
Like almost everything worthwhile in life, creating the right morning routine takes time and continual tweaking — especially if you are trying to change yourself for the better.
So, as you start experimenting with your new morning routine, here are some of my favorite hacks that may help you find what works best for you:
- Plan ahead. To me this is key. My dad always said “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. To me, writing down what I want to achieve tomorrow makes all the difference (a la Benjamin Franklin). The big secret is not creating a huge list of 25 things I can’t actually get done. BE REASONABLE. Instead, I like to choose tasks that will make a huge difference in achieving my purpose, and goals. (Get it? Don’t focus on a huge list, focus on making a huge difference.) I also find it helpful to make a list of smaller “brainless” tasks that I can do when I’m feeling burnt out or just need a break.
- Find consistency. Going to sleep at the same time every evening WILL help program you to wake up at the same time every morning. I have found that setting an alarm for two hours before I want to BE ASLEEP has helped me keep in mind how much time I need to wind down and get ready for bed. (And it creates some space for an evening bath — my fav!).
- Write it down. How do you want your day to go? How do you want to feel this time tomorrow? By writing down three things you want to do to serve your purpose (what we call activations), you will be far more likely to bring those things into action and bring your purpose to fruition! (Just remember to keep it brief!)
- Choose a kind alarm. If you need an alarm (but only if you need it), try to find one that won’t start your day off with a jolt. Instead, perhaps find one with the sound of the ocean, a singing bowl, or even a guided meditation.
- Spend 5 minutes breathing. While you need to find what works for you, spending some focused time just breathing should probably be a part of it. It doesn’t have to be some woo-woo thing. Just take 5 minutes to breathe without thinking about anything other than how pleasurable the breath is and how luxurious it is to be breathing this morning.
- Move. For most of us, movement is an essential part of giving ourselves some TLC. So try doing some form of movement as part of your routine. Crank up your music and shake your body, find a yoga practice, dance with your partner, go for a walk, run, jump rope — it doesn’t really matter. Just move.
You can think of these ideas like the TV show Chopped. I’ve given you some ingredients, but now you need to make them into your own delicious morning meal!
You have the power to re-write your mornings to be YOURS. You have the opportunity to be intentional and powerful.
It doesn’t matter who you are — we ALL deserve to start our mornings with some TLC and to program our lives to be dynamic, full of potential, and growth-inducing. Stay inspired. You are doing great work.