Setting up your morning routine for success begins with the first opportunity we have to make a decision that will change the trajectory of our day (and in turn, our week and month and so on); The second we blink open our eyes as we emerge from a deep slumber.
The alarm goes off and we have that first choice.
Choice A: Turn it off, get out of bed, brush teeth, empty the bladder, change for a workout or a walk, and get moving.
Choice B: Snooze. Scroll. Roll out of bed 45 minutes later with no time to spare and get right into the haphazard stress of the day. Work, kids’ breakfasts, fill in the blank.
Choice A sets a tone for the day. It starts you off with keeping a promise to yourself. It starts you off with accomplishment of a task. It gives you energy. It sets productivity in motion. It’s heart- and lung-healthy. It makes us feel great (during, for some but at the very least) after we’ve finished. The productivity spreads to other portions of our day, leading to reduced anxiety and stress.
Choice B sets a tone of breaking promises to ourselves. It reaffirms in our psyche that we are not capable. It’s more of the same, which means more of the same results. It kicks off anxiety from scrolling social media and comparing ourselves to others or scrolling news stories filled with fear and negativity. It triggers stress of being behind or late because we wasted time snoozing or getting sucked into the blue light vortex. It makes us feel lethargic or even depressed to start the day. It reduces productivity, further adding to our stress hours and days later.
Setting up your morning routine for success isn't just about the morning, it's for the entirety of a long day, and then for the days, weeks, and months that follow.
As the day carries on, we are faced with constant choices like this one. Sit at the desk all day, then close the laptop, sit at the dinner table and follow that with sitting on the couch. Then go lie in the bed, lather, rinse and repeat. That’s a whole lot of stagnant energy.
But we have other options.
Set up a standing desk and set timers to switch from standing to sitting every hour.
Invest in a desk treadmill and walk for a few hour-long segments while we work. I do this, and get in between 4-7 miles per day that I otherwise would have been sitting on my tush.
Decide to take an evening walk, or go a few extra times around the block when we take the dog out.
Walk to get our coffee or lunch instead of drive - if we don’t plan to make it at home.
Take our kids to the park, and stay that extra 10 minutes (playing with them) when they beg to not go home just yet.
The excuses will always be there.
The feeling of guilt when stepping away from work to get movement in.
Guilt comes from feeling like we owe something to someone. But I ask you to think about who you should feel more indebted to:
>A corporation, who would do what’s best for their bottom line in any given situation?
>Your boss, who may be a fantastic mentor, but still would likely leave for a better opportunity or a different city if that choice was better for their family?
>Your team, who may look up to you, but still would likely leave for better opportunities if it came down to it as well?
>Or yourself. Your family. Your health. How well can you continue to perform for that boss, that team or that corporation if you aren’t putting your mental and physical health first? If you aren’t using tools to improve your happiness and productivity and reduce your stress?
The nag of laundry, dishes or dinner that won’t wash or make themselves, waiting back at home.
Of course, we have obligations, duties, responsibilities. We have to take care of our homes and our families. That requires some sacrifice - we all know that.
But If you asked your kids in 10 years about their fondest memories, if you thought about the moments that will shape them into who they will be as adults...
Would it be the dinner that was thrown together hurriedly because you got back late from the park?
Would it be that some days there were dishes in the sink or laundry still in the basket to be folded?
Or would it be that memory of mom finally joining in to throw snowballs at the park until all of your noses were red and runny and your bellies and cheeks all hurt from laughing so hard?
The decision to stay in bed and take the snooze because you are “listening to your body”.
There are times when our body is truly telling us that we need rest. When we are sick or on the verge of it, when stressful events have built up and rendered us emotionally spent for a few days - in those moments we may truly need the recovery.
But oftentimes, we use that phrase as an excuse to listen to the ever-present voice that tells us to break the promise to ourselves, give up, take the easy road. When we get really honest with ourselves about whether we can’t or simply don’t feel like it...we usually find that our body wants more than anything to get moving.
I’m not a morning person because I like getting out of a warm bed while it’s still dark out. I’m not some motivation freak who never has a bad day. I’m a morning person, because I tell myself I am.
I’ve been saying it for decades and it’s become who I am. I’m a morning person because I’ve made small changes to go to bed earlier or read instead of watch TV before bed. I’ve made small goals of getting up a little bit earlier, and then a little earlier than that until I started waking up naturally before 6AM.
I’m not a morning person because of some ripple in the matrix that made me that way and didn’t spare Joe Schmo the same gift. I’m that way because I’ve created an environment and a mindset that support that outcome. You can too.
Setting up your morning routine for success throughout the day is a small change with bigger results than you can even begin to imagine.