Set Yourself Up For Success this Year
Written by: Sahil Dhaliwal
Quick! Relax your shoulders, inhale a fresh breath of air through your nostrils, close your eyes and enjoy the exhale.
Feels refreshing right? Even if just for a second?
Incessant notifications, emails, & alerts keep us plugged in, but also send us into hyperdrive without our notice. So, do we rest & recharge enough for these “work hard play hard” lives we lead? Is there such a psychological launchpad from which we feel energized to tackle each day?
Enter: the Morning Routine.
Countless studies have shown how morning routines are beneficial not just to our mental health but also to our productivity. We face unprecedented levels today. Especially with our current global pandemic, social isolation & work from home, we may have added stress we don’t even notice. Now more than ever, we need routine: to help manage stress, keep our body’s energized and our minds proactive.
Morning routines aren’t new — many successful people swear by them— but for many of us, they just feel a bit too extreme (getting up at 4 am to run 5k? No thanks.) With our deadline filled workdays and packed calendars, getting up earlier seems like the last thing we need, but it’s actually the first. Here’s how to tailor a morning routine to maximize your goals and wellbeing.
Step 1. Overcome Resistance.
Resistance comes from unrealistic expectations or perfectionism… or both. Throw ‘em away. Other’s morning routines are usually fine-tuned to their established habit, while we’re still starting out. We don’t need crazy impressive routines right now – start small. We’re more likely to complete realistic & feasible goals day after day, developing enough self-efficacy to form better habits. Then, we can assess whether our routine works for us or whether to level up.
Step 2. Make Quality Sleep Your Priority.
Don’t buy into the motivational hype that prioritizes hustle over sleep. If you don’t sleep well, your hustle suffers. Invest in your 7-8 hours, so you’re not struggling to jump into your routine. At first, it’ll take consistency & willpower to form this habit – so set yourself up for success. The CDC recommends falling asleep & waking up at the same time each day to develop healthy sleep habits. Avoid screens an hour before bed, dim the lights, start winding down and even grab a book. Also, setting out workout clothes or your outfit for the next day is a great way to get ahead and save yourself extra time and energy in the mornings.
Step 3. Identify Your Lifestyle
Genetics play a large role in your sleep patterns and whether you’re an early riser, a nightcrawler or somewhere in between. These are significant in determining what time of the day you’re more productive. Similarly, consider your occupation & work hours. Is your job more mentally demanding or physically laborious? Take these into account when determining what’s a realistic way to start your morning.
Your morning routine will do wonders for you, so long as it is built for you.
Step 4. Mind, Body, Spirit: Engage All Three.
The Mind. Mindfulness, meditation, breathing exercises, or just being present slows a scattered mind, creates ease, focus & clarity, and combats anxiety and other mental/physical illnesses.
The Body. We know exercise is good for us, but we don’t realize how food directly affects our focus, mental health, and productivity. Swap the processed treats for nutrient-dense, whole foods, and watch your mood & energy skyrocket.
The Spirit. Put away work for a bit and do what brings your joy. Pursuing creative hobbies outside of work actually makes you better at your job. Whether it’s drawing, free-writing, singing, video games, painting, playing music, etc — it’ll keep you inspired & curb impending burnout.
Step 5. Voila! Your Morning Routine.
Now, you may have an idea of what type of Morning Routine will suit you. So write it down & commit. Simple. If you find it difficult to maintain after a few days, Atomic Habits author James Clear has many helpful tips on how to troubleshoot a habit.
Whether you wake up 2 hours earlier or 20 minutes earlier, whether you do a full workout or enjoy energizing stretches, whether you meditate for 30 minutes or just close your eyes and breathe for 3, whether you read a book, listen to jazz, or paint a Monet… commit to a routine that refreshes when you wake, so you’re mentally prepared for the day ahead.
The Key To Success
Stick to it! Some will find our morning routines immediately while some may need a few runs of trial & error till it sticks. Keep at it, and soon enough, a once outlandish goal will be second nature. Invest in yourself now & reap the benefits of a more productive day tomorrow!
Also published on Medium.