MORNING ROUTINE: NUMERO DEUX

Nutrition, sleep, mind-set, productivity, performance, fitness, wellbeing, sex, relationships etc – when we examine these areas of our day to day life, we often forget that they are all interconnected and interdependent. They are spokes on the wheel of the day, every one them necessary to (successfully) ride the 24-hour cycle into a life worth living. Because a day isn’t just about what you put in your body, how you look in the mirror, or how much production you can squeeze from 8 hours of work. It’s about how you feel, whose lives you connect with, and how much fulfilment you can glean from it along the way.

HOW DO YOU SPEND THE FIRST 30 MINUTES OF YOUR DAY? 

It is only when we can finally begin the process to reclaim (some) control over our inner domain, and begin the process to better observe the external environments, and  manage how we respond to it, are we better equiped to enact some (self) control of ourselves – both physically and mentally. 
For any of us to (work towards) becoming the best possible version of ourselves, responsibility and discipline is required so that we can purposefully begin to redesign our immediate environment so that we at least have the ability to observe and manage our responses, rather than being dicked around by our blind compulsions and impulses, driven by the ‘racket’ we call life…a life that is seemingly geared to only heighten and exacerbate our counter poo-ductive behaviours…like buying excessive amounts of toilet paper…am I right?  #mybrainhurts

The past isn’t predictive
The past is real.
The past only becomes predictive
If our behaviours stay the same.

‘If’ it is indeed our mindset that will either craft or sabotage our ability to practice self-care or do stoopid shit, then it is within the first hour of the day that, I reckon, we need to start…it is here that we must first look, to seek what actions we can take to foster new behaviours and actions that ultimately manifest into habits and behaviours that perpetuate a routine geared for your to own your day.

For It is your behaviour that changes you.
Behaviour changes your momentum, and shifts your gears: 

(buying obscene amounts of toilet paper, wearing Crocs etc) <—Reverse—-Neutral—Forward—> (morning routine, kicking goals, being awesome)

Behaviour not only requires new thought, new narratives and time to populate, but a daily opportunity to redact the distractions, to sift the noise and clutter, and begin the process to quell the destructive habits that keep us predictably anchored to the past.
We need to self-sow fertile cognitive-soil to harvest our innate future-self potentiality (jeez, what a word wank), via kick-arse practical, realistic, purposeful and sustainable habits, that boots you up the bum in the best possible way.

And that is why an ability to learn, initiate, practice and repeat a bespoke daily regime of high-performance repeating habits will redirect said boot up said bum and ultimately begin to see the upturn in said outcomes. 

Remember, it’s what we repeatedly do, that we become…
it’s actions, the behaviours woman/man!

(not) Aristotle

2% OF YOUR DAY, THAT’S ALL IT TAKES

As I alluded to in last weeks post, I rabbited on about my own morning routine structure and how, over the months and years, it has been honed and modified to what it is now. I also mentioned that when I started, it was quite frankly a bit of a pain in the arse…anything new that requires discipline and new habit formation is, or can be..totes frustrating, difficult and arduous…but thank god (*‘I’m an atheist’) it is.
If nothing was ever difficult or challenging then we wouldn’t learn anything…if we don’t learn anything…then, what’s a non-practicing mind going to do?
Find distraction..and buy commercial quantities of toilet paper.
(*hat tip to comedian Dave Allen, watch 50sec clip about the Pope and an Atheist…do it)

Before I itemise the steps to initiating what hopefully will be a journey towards establishing a long term, sustainable rewarding morning routine, here’s a a couple of key reasons to start your day with intention…and own your day:

  1. Creates a structure of discipline – ‘discipline means freedom’, and if you maintain discipline, especially first thing in the morning, then the remainder of your day will be self-determined and ‘geared’ by what you have installed at the beginning of your day. Your productivity goes through the roof and your grit and resilience is boosted.
  2. Ticking a list of duties in the morning instals a sense of satisfaction and achievement. Humans are motivated by success and achievement. Even being disciplined to complete a list of simple tasks, tasks especially that are directed towards self-preservation, mindfulness and general wellbeing, will deliver sustainable and potentially profound change.
  3. An opportunity for self-audit, reflection and gratitude. Self awareness and our ability to remind ourselves of our presence and our internal dialogue is determined by frequency of repeated action. A morning ritual of reflection and gratitude will begin to re-wire our personal internal software and recalibrate, over time, our internal dialogue. We need every tool in our life-tool box to help us rewrite our internal narrative so that we have a brain that works for us, rather than against us…a morning routine is the prime time to address that thoughts, actions, words and behaviours that you want front and centre in your day.
  4. You set your day off on an important positive trajectory. To be grateful…I bet there’s more than a couple of billion people out there that would not only swap your problems in a heart-beat, but relish the opportunities you have available at your finger tips, and may take for granted.

 

WAKE UP!
Let’s WAKE UP with the view of owning your day, each and every day, and one day at a time.

Firstly, the key to introducing any new routine and lifestyle change is to make it easy.
Easy means actionable, achievable and sustainable. 
Resist attempting to establish new behaviours that are at immediate risk of failure and self-sabotage because it ‘takes too long’, ‘i don’t have time’, ‘the kids….’, ‘I can’t be arsed’, ‘I’m too busy’, I’ve got no room, I bought too much toilet paper (ok I”l stop now…I was a ‘roll’)

And this is where the 2% of your day comes in to play…your success to initiating and sustaining a productive morning routine is TIME.
Time that you allocate with yourself.
A frequent mistake made when people start a new regime is they attempt to fit it into their already busy daily schedule, without acknowledging and dedicating specific time to accommodate said new regime. Probably the No1 reason why the majority of New Year Resolutions fail within the first 6-8 weeks, that and that most NY resolutions are probably made mildly “muntered”.

Failure will be the result if the first response to non-compliance is “I didn’t / don’t have time”.

It only takes 2% of your day…just 30 minutes in real time… each morning to begin this simple, but profound process.
(You think you don’t have time, just grab your smartphone and check your ‘usage’…nuf said)

Some basic steps to ensure you have a ‘spare’ 30 minutes in the morning.
Get up earlier…der!
No phones
No social media
No TV
No emails
Isolate this time as you would an important appointment that you have with yourself everyday, that must be considered privileged and cannot be interrupted…this is meeting you have with yourself, a meeting you cannot cancel or have it interrupted…period.

Now, before i go any further…
Ultimately the implementation and maintaining a sustainable morning routine, till it becomes a habit, will essentially be bred from your behaviours and activities of the night before. 
Your morning, especially at the beginning, will need to have every opportunity for success – much of which will be predicated on how well you prepare the night before.
So what do we need to be mindful of the night before?
What will potentially (and very successfully) kibosh your attempts, and motivations, to do what WANT and SHOULD be doing?
1. Alcohol: Want your sleep to be corrupted?
Want your motivation, inclination and drive to be diminished? 
Want your ‘can’t be arsed attitude’ to be highlighted?
Then, go ahead drink alcohol. Even a couple of beers or couple glasses of wine will be detrimental to your desired efforts. 
2. Lack of sleep / poor quality sleep: Your morning routine will require you getting up 30-60 minutes earlier than normal. Initially not a pleasant thought for most, so to make this transition easier by A) go to bed earlier, and B) create a sleeping ambience that optimise the best sleep possible (this will be another blog post soon) but in short. Create a evening routine where bright lights are diminished before bed, reduce exposure to blue light, resist looking at devices before bed, make sure bedroom is cool & pitch black. Avoid stimulating foods and beverages before bed…avoid coffee some 8 hours before bed…research indicates that up to 30% of caffeine can reside in the blood stream up to 8 hours after your last coffee. You may fall asleep OK, but your sleep cycle will be interrupted 
3. Going to bed too late…Netflix will be there tomorrow.
4. Little or no preparation, not doing the 6 ‘P’s – Perfect Preparation Prevents Piss-Poor Performance. Your success relies on your seamless and frictionless ability to execute the morning goals that you have set for yourself. So pre-plan as much as possible the night before, so that the morning is as easy as possible. 

Owning your day will be the catalyst to meaningful, demonstrable change

Right…the following is a list of ideas that you can cherry-pick, or ignore, when structuring a morning routine.
The key here?
What ever you choose, it must only take 30minutes in total

Get Up
Put your alarm on 35-45 minutes earlier than usual (this is best done the night before ☺️), and as soon as it sounds, get up…no matter how hard it.

If the bed is empty, make it. (first chore of the day done!)
Wear some comfortable clothes.I’d get out of the PJ’s and have what you’re going to wear first thing laid out the night before…remove any unnecessary decision making or delays.
Complete any required ablutions (there’s plenty of toilet paper), wash hands…#coronavirus 
Set the ambience…It’s up to you. I love ambient music and always listen to gentle classical or ambient tunes. I open all the windows to allow the fresh air in. I’m mindful of the lighting and make sure the area I’m ‘working in’ is as comfortable as possible.
In short, do whatever you want that will create the ‘right’ environment for you to do what you’re doing. 

Drink
Proper rehydration – consume 300-500ml filtered room temperature (filtered)water. During your sleep your body continues to do its business and without any additional fluids over that 6-9 hour period, so when you do wake up you are dehydrated, whether you feel it or not. Drinking a large glass of filtered water also helps activate the gut and stimulate bowel movements.
Now, some folks swear that lemon water, or a green-juice smoothie, or a matcha-tea & dandelion infused, Yak protein powder shake is ‘the business’ and MUST be consumed first thing…they all work, and they all don’t work…what does work however is whatever lights your fire and helps YOU instil a ritual that encourages your behaviours. So if having a kombucha, espresso enema is your thing & rocks your world…knock yourself out.  
Seek the rituals/routines that suit your purpose and provides you the segue to achieve what you want.
Me?
I just drink a lot of water and have a coffee (or two)

Reflect
Journal – bring out your journal and spend 5-10 minutes writing down your thoughts for the day ahead. 
Ask yourself some questions like: 
What is it that I want to achieve today?
What is it that I want to be mindful of today?
What behaviours do I need to remind myself of?
What do I want?
Why don’t I have it?
What do I need to do to get it?

(I will dedicate a post to journaling in the future, but let me just say that journaling is a game changer)

Gratitude
Importantly, write down 3-5 things that you are grateful for. Show gratitude and thanks and be mindful and proud of what you have already completed. And know that “today is victory over yourself of yesterday, tomorrow is victory over a lessor foe” – Miyamoto Musashi

Some other journalling tips include.
Write a list of “what I truly believe I deserve” and read it out-loud every morning and evening. This list can and will be updated as your journalling progresses. I use post-it notes to mark where in my diary my lists are written for easy access. 
Every 4 weeks or so, review the previous months entries and complete a bullet point snapshot of the previous month. Again use a post-it note to mark the location.
I always quickly review the previous days entry…the above are effective mechanisms to maintain self-accountability and remind ourselves everyday of what we want to improve. We need to always remind ourselves to remember.

Be mindful…and make sure your diary/journal doesn’t become a bitch/moan session. This process is very clearly about identifying and self-auditing, but not to the detriment of your mental health. Acknowledge the challenges and create dialogue that will help address and overcome the problems at hand.  

Daily Mantra(s) – choose from pre-written list, that you’ve created, that will provide you with a daily feedback loop. This can be your go-to meditation protocol. Mantra’s a good to have on your screen savers or strategically placed post-it notes. Always think of strategies to remind yourself of how you could/should be thinking (or not thinking in most cases)…again, these are all strategies to realign your cognitive behaviour, to ‘rewire’ your internal narrative/dialogue, so that, overtime, it becomes either your natural thinking default setting, or can be relied upon when we’re under stress.

Inspire Yourself
Dream and visualise, think big…
Ask yourself, if time and/or money wasn’t a consideration what would you do?
Go big, no holds-barred…
Writing this stuff is great fun and must become a regular habit. Just do one thing when writing your inspiration…note how you’re feeling when you write it, take note of your internal response and the wonderful sense of joy and freedom it manifests…that there my fiends is essentially what a morning ritual manifests every morning and why it’s so important…we are in charge of how we feel inside, we have just forgotten how to access it.

Meditation transcendental meditation (repeating a Mantra over and over again) or, simply count your breaths through your nose. One breath in, two breath out, three breath in, 4 breath out…and count to 10 and repeat 3-5 times. Simply set the alarm for 5 minutes (start with 5 minutes then work you meditation time up to 20 minutes). I sit up-right, in a comfortable chair, spine straight and have a pillow on my lap to rest my hands. Bare feet is best and don’t worry if for the first minute or two you’re a bit fidgety – forced relaxation can be hard work initially and it takes time…so give yourself the time and be patient with yourself.

We All Need Time To Reconnect With Ourselves
Learn
Spend 5-15 minutes to read something that continues to empower and help you visualise your desire goals. Read, listen to a podcast or watch a TEDtalk

Move
Do 4-8 minutes exercise. Again, keep it simple. Two rounds of Tabata is 8 minutes. Choose for example squats and lunges. This process is purely to get the body primed (and the mind too). If you can get a little sweat up, even better.
Get outside if possible.
Why outside? Vitamin D and our circadian rhythm – two of the most powerful biological, hormone, mood and sleep regulators known. (probably the most important in my book). Every mammal on the planet (nearly all animals in fact, are effected by their own biological circadian rhythm.) In short…you need to add light and movement to your first 30mins of your day. This is not a training session, just 4-8 minutes ONLY of movement to YOUR capacity.

Epilogue
It’s easy to resist the idea of a true self-estimate, because we fear it might mean downgrading some our beliefs about who we are and what we’re capable of.
As literary smarty-pants, come philosopher Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (1749-1832) said, “it’s a great failing to see yourself as more than you are, (and equally) value yourself at less than your true worth.”
Annoying as it is, being considered ‘self-aware’ requires you to consider your weaknesses.

We can’t fear self-assessment because we might be worried that we might have to admit some things about ourself.

Just as much as we have a propensity to completely overestimate our capabilities, we also have the blindingly and often dangerous ability to overestimate our abilities. 
Cultivating the ability to judge yourself accurately and honestly can only be successfully done by soberly looking inward and discern what you’re capable of and what it will take to unlock that potential. 

Another brainiac writer / philosopher, this time from Scotland, and known as ‘The Father of Economics’ aka “Party-Animal” Adam Smith (1723-1790) says…”There are two different occasion upon which we examine our own conduct, and endeavour to view it in the light in which the impartial spectator would view it; first, when we are about to act; and secondly, after we have acted.
Our views are apt to be very partial in both cases; but they are apt to be most partial when it is most importance that they should be otherwise. When we are about to act, the eagerness of passion will seldom allow us to consider what we are doing, with the candour of an indifferent person….When the action is over, indeed, and the passions which promoted it have subsided, we can enter more coolly into the sentiments of the indifferent spectator.”

The ‘indifferent spectator’ is the sort of guide we should use to observe and judge our own past behaviours and actions.

Our ability to learn and grow only comes by way of change, our ability to renew & rejuvenate ourselves; if we fail to practice and seek our own fulfilment; then we’ll just harden

“Knowing is not enough; we must apply.
Willing is not enough; we must do.”

Always keep in mind, what is not started today is
never ever going to be finished tomorrow