Morning Routines... Set Each Day Up for Success!
Mindful. Empowered. Growth.
"Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out." R. Collier
About ten years ago I began my coaching journey as a "coachee", being coached for the first time as part of a nonprofit leadership program. I learned so much through various mentor coaches over the years, part of my reason for wanting to become a coach myself to be able to share and support others on their journey because it was so life changing for me. One thing that has stuck with me and has served as my foundation through various ebbs and flows of life is my morning routine.
I believe the question that my coach at the time posed to me, as I entered our session frazzled and feeling drained ( likely looking like it as well), was "When are you going to start taking control of your day versus your day taking control of you?". Hmm... seemed like a reasonable question at the time. I was a young mom with a 3 year old daughter, pretty much single parenting, and I was the Executive Director of a nonprofit I had founded... with no aspirations to be in nonprofit leadership, just a passion for the mission and programs and a clear need being met by our services in the community...so, there was a lot to be said for feeling a huge sense of overwhelm from the minute my sweet little girl came to wake me up each morning.
And, that is where I began. My morning routine. Having someone need something from me before I was even fully awake and then mentally and physically challenging myself to grow in my role as an ED each minute of each day, not to mention this then led to my 2nd shift of parenting for dinner and bath time...all to start over again with "Good Morning Mommy" in just a few short hours? There had to be a better way.
So, I made the shift to wake up between 5 and 5:30am each and every day. I began to meditate, to read, and to enjoy the peace and quiet of my home while I sipped my cup of tea. This time of day became something I looked forward to AND it informed the rest of my day. I was happier and more settled feeling ready to take on whatever the day had in store for me. I felt more organized and I used this time to read and learn more about leadership, providing me a space for introspection and strategic thinking so that I could show up as the best leader at home and at work.
Many books later, I continue to find solace in my early mornings and encourage others to find the same. I admittedly have those days when it is more challenging than others to not hit snooze ...and I do notice the difference on those days...regardless of the exact start time of my morning routine, I still make an effort to accomplish a few key items before I get rolling with my day...
Meditation: I light a candle and do this before anything else and really focus on just breathing, I feel like this is my way to slowly enter my day. As part of the Positive Intelligence work I do, I use one of the 12 minute PQ Gym workouts with Shirzad Chamine to set the tone for my day.
Reading: Depending on time, 15-20 min with a cup of hot tea! I shared my top picks earlier this month and soon to be posted a few of my favorites on my website. I generally read leadership books of some sort, books that address personal growth, as this is my foundational belief on any and all success = self awareness!
Intentions: I often have my clients complete a daily practice exercise when we begin working together. The purpose of this is to help them identify areas of their life that they currently spend most of their time. After evaluating this together, they are able to see some trends, potentially a higher % of time spent on work than on family, friends, or maybe exercise or creative endeavors. The work then becomes how can they intentionally put time and energy into each category they identified where they want to be more present. For me, I look at the few things that I absolutely need to complete that day ( work & personal) and then make sure that I set time to intentionally connect with my family, friends, and to do something for me ( this might be as simple as taking it slow throughout the day).
Movement: My newest commitment is to to return to running so, my walks have turned to runs and I follow it with a little yoga to stretch and again...breathe. 2 mile run + 15 min yoga =30 min morning workout!
I must add too, that all of the above occurs before any technology...email, computer, social media, etc. They suck you in so, take this time to break from any technology!
Remember, regardless of what title we hold, what the size of the budget we manage is, or the number of people in our lives we lead...we first and foremost have an obligation to ourselves. To put that oxygen mask on ourselves first. As they say, you cannot pour from an empty cup! By taking care of yourself first, you will be able to contribute to others, navigate difficult situations effectively and increase your ability to lead and listen. I may still have those days when I feel ( or look) frazzled but they are few and far between AND they almost NEVER occur back to back because when I do experience that crazy "off" day, I recommit to that very next day being better than the day before.
Small consistent steps towards successfully reclaiming control of your days is well within reach, it starts with you...