Whether your morning starts early or late, how you begin your day has a huge impact on your level of success. Most of the leaders I work with are self-aware and have some version of a morning routine to get them properly set up for the day. Others struggle with family commitments, issues with organization or time or the simple desire to sleep.
If you’re one of those, here are a few simple ways you can harness the power of the morning for life in just one month:
Week One – Notice & Name
During the first week, all you will need to do is gather information. Spend this entire week checking in on your physical, mental and emotional states in the morning to set the baseline and see where you’re at. Grab a notebook and track what’s happening so you’ll be able to see where adjustments might be made for the best results.
Each day, answer these questions:
· How is my body doing today? Pay attention to your body. Focus on your physical sensations in the morning and throughout the day. In the morning, what do you need? Do you need to move a little, do you need to stretch, are you thirsty, are you hungry? Are you waking up feeling refreshed? The answers to these questions will provide the foundation for setting up a ritual or routine that works.
· How is my mind doing today? Pay attention to your mental state. Are you aware and refreshed in the morning or a little foggy? Do you wake up quickly or need a bit more time? Is your mind running a million miles an hour? What is on your mind first thing in the morning?
· How am I feeling today? Pay attention to your emotional state. Are you happy, sad, angry or scared? Every emotion is a version of one of these states. For example, if you feel content, that’s a version of happy. If you’re anxious, that’s a version of scared. What’s happening for you emotionally in the morning.?
Week Two – Pick One
In the second week, choose one aspect, physical, mental or emotional. Use the information you gathered in week one to adjust your morning routine to accommodate and add or modify one of your morning activities to observe the effect.
It might look something like this:
· Physical: I noticed last week that I feel stiff when I get out of bed in the morning. I am going to add some time for stretching and mobility exercises to my morning routine and see how that feels.
· Mental: I noticed last week that my mind starts racing as soon as I get up. I’m going to add some time to unload my brain in the morning so I can prioritize and focus. I’ll write everything down as fast as I can each day and see how that feels.
· Emotional: I noticed last week that I’m sad in the morning. I am going to add some time to my morning routine to write my thoughts down to see where my emotions might be coming from. Maybe I’ll learn what’s triggering this emotion and be able to change something.
Don’t try to do everything at once and don’t try to add in a bunch of time all at once. Decide on a minimum action you can take and a minimum amount of time you can spend. Even five minutes of action will start to shift your routine into a more supportive place. Then, if you get more time, it’s a bonus. If you want more time later, you can always find ways to add it, but start very small at first. Remember you can do everything you want, you just can’t do it all right now.
Week Three/Four – Pick Two More
In the next two weeks, focus on the other two areas. Keep going on the first, and add in the others gradually, layering them over top and observe the effects. Once you’ve gathered information on how the shift has worked, you can decide if it’s working for you and you want to keep it, or if there’s another action you want to try to make the shift work better.
Tie It Together
After completing the month of observation and small actions, make note of what worked, what didn’t and why. What absolutely must be in your morning to make it work and what can be shifted to another part of your day?
For me, this exercise yielded several good bits of information that I work to use to feel prepared and present in my day. Here’s how it worked for me:
1. I learned that I always need a bit of movement in the morning. That could be a workout, it could be a nice slow stretch or a walk or swim. What I do depends on how much time I have in the morning and how I feel. Sometimes I feel like doing something upbeat and other times I need to be more gentle. As long as I move just a little, I’m good.
2. I learned that I need a bit of mental stimulation in the morning. Whether that’s some business or personal development reading, the news, a spiritual reading or some version of the above, my mind likes to have a thought to start the day.
3. I learned I like to eat breakfast slowly and that I like to spend time showering, getting cleaned up and tidying the kitchen before I head out. It’s pleasurable to spend a bit more time in the shower, to choose my clothing for the day and to apply makeup. I enjoy the process. Instead of getting mad at myself because it takes two and a half hours for me to move, feed and groom my body and pack my bags for work, I accepted that I like to take my time and adjusted my schedule accordingly.
Above all, I learned that a morning routine makes me feel cared for. When clients say they just don’t have the time, it’s often rooted in a belief that others are more important, or that it’s not okay to spend time on themselves. They don’t prioritize their self-care, sometimes to such an extreme that they burn out and get ill.
Before you get to that point, give the process a try and let us know how it goes. How did changing your morning lead to changing your life?