So it’s July already!?!? Not quite sure how that happened!! I don’t know about you, but I am completely confused as to what date it is these days. The weather’s been crazy and unpredictable, I’ve been working from home for what feels a little bit too much like an eternity, and a lot of things are feeling just a little out of focus right now.
Which is why I was even happier than usual to do my Quarterly Review this week!! At the end of each quarter, I sit down and review how my business has done over the past 3 months, and take stock of the Bigger Picture. It’s also a time to check in with how I’m doing personally and which habits and routines I potentially need to tweak.
And I have to admit that this past quarter my morning routine really slipped. Now, I’m a morning person, so it does actually say quite a lot when I am not jumping out of bed, enthusiastic to get the new day started!! That’s my regular M.O. and when it goes missing, well that’s a big sign that it’s time to re-evaluate and reprioritize a few things.
I love my morning routine. I’m the only true morning person in my household, and that hour I spend on my routine is the one hour of the day that I am truly alone. The house is quiet, I have time to listen to my thoughts, and I have found it to be the best way to set me up for a successful and fulfilling day.
You might think it’s a bit counterproductive to start (or in this case re-start) a morning routine in the summer, when you might be on holidays, but I find the summer the perfect time. The mornings are sunny and bright. It’s warm. The start of a summer day feels so inspirational! The birds are chirping, there’s the scent of summer in the air. And it’s a lot easier to get up when it’s already light out, don’t you think?? 🙂
Over the years, I’ve experimented with a lot of different elements to my morning routine, and the conclusion I’ve come to is: there is no right answer for “the best” morning routine. The best routine is the one that you actually DO, and that you feel is right for you. And what might be right for you today might be different tomorrow. (Another reason I like taking stock of my routines and goals during my Quarterly Review).
Here are a few resources and elements that I have found helpful in establishing a morning routine and which many of my coaching clients have enjoyed as well!
It should come as no surprise that Sleep tops the list of the most effective ways to start your day! If you’ve had a good night’s sleep, the morning looks a lot brighter, and you’re a lot more likely to be productive as well. I loved this bite-sized podcast episode with Matt Walker, one of the world’s top sleep gurus, explaining the scientific benefits of sleep.
If you’re not naturally a morning person, or someone not naturally inclined towards routines, one of the tools I often recommend to my coaching clients is the Habit Nest Morning Sidekick Journal. It’s a brilliant way to set yourself up for success using this step-by-step journal to create and follow through on a morning routine.
I also find setting an intention very helpful, as well as having some accountability. But how can you be accountable to yourself? You can write your future self an email! There’s a website called Futureme.org where you can write yourself an email to be sent to you at a future date of your choosing. How about writing your future morning-routine-loving-self an email congratulating yourself on your success?
I was really sceptical about the whole journaling thing. I’m not an angsty teenager spilling her melodramatic emotions into her diary. But journaling is not writing a diary. And the science is virtually irrefutable: journaling is a brilliant tool for improving your mindfulness, emotional intelligence, and helping you achieve your goals.
Lead To Win – one of my favourite Leadership podcasts – did a great episode on how to get started journaling, and how many leaders have benefitted from this practice.
If you too are sceptical, this article from Huffpost lists the Top 10 Benefits of Journaling.
Looking at a blank page might be more likely to cause writer’s block than spark creativity, and if that’s the case for you, have a look at these journaling prompts that stimulate your thoughts on multiple different subjects.
I actually can’t write without the right size lines and went through multiple attempts to find the perfect journal to encourage nice handwriting, and this one from Moleskine is the winner for me!
In a similar vein to journaling, affirmations can also be a very effective tool for self-confidence. We let the “Shitty Committee” in our head tell us a lot of negative crap. Deliberately choosing to fill your mind with positive thoughts can do wonders!
My brilliant coach trainer, Gillian McMichael, does a daily affirmation on her IG account which I check religiously. And if you’d like to create your own affirmations, this article is helpful.
Who are these people who actually have *no thoughts*?!?! This is absolutely incomprehensible to me!! My brain is full of a million thoughts, zooming around like asteroids, bouncing off one another, and then creating new thoughts. The concept of a calm mind sounds amazing. And also ridiculously unattainable. So I didn’t think meditation would be my thing, because I didn’t think I’d ever be able to have a quiet mind! I literally laughed out loud when reading Dan Harris’ book on his journey to meditation, 10 Percent Happier, because I could relate so well: “Meditation struck me as the distillation of everything that sucked hardest about the granola lifestyle. I pictured myself … in a room that smelled like feet…intoning Om and attempting to float off into some sort of cosmic goo.” Same!!
It was reading Stress Less, Accomplish More that really changed how I felt about meditation. For one thing, the author doesn’t expect you to have a quiet mind, nor does she even think that’s attainable! It’s about training yourself to just do one thing. To sit and to try to focus on one thought, and to train yourself to not get distracted by all the thoughts that are of course going to come into your mind. This way of looking at meditation was really liberating for me and this book actually got me started meditating. And for the most part I’ve stuck to it! Need to get back into the regular habit again, but I highly recommend this book for those of you who have tried meditating before and think you just can’t do it.
It’s crazy that humans have actually evolved away from breathing properly and now need to be taught how to breathe correctly. Apparently our respiratory rate should be 6-8 breaths per minute. Mine is 14! The correlation between nasal breathing and respiratory rate for athletic performance was also very interesting for me as a triathlete.
And from a work perspective, I found the description of “email apnea” just so spot on. A University of California San Francisco study identified that people stop breathing when they turn on their computers in the morning and see the onslaught of emails. It triggers the fight or flight (aka stress) response. They call that email apnea. Ring a bell by any chance?
This podcast does clock in at just shy of 2 hours but don’t let that put you off. It’s a really engaging and fascinating interview!
There are of course lots of other ideas for morning routine – exercise, yoga, gratitude, etc. And those are indeed part of my routine too! Didn’t want this to get too long and unwieldy though, and the exercise portion in particular seems to be one that most people already have covered. 🙂
LIFE-CHANGING READS – READER EDITION
I was absolutely overwhelmed by how many of you responded to my last newsletter and shared your own life-changing reads!! It’s a spectacular list of growth, enlightenment, and learning new things. Thank you so much for being so generous with your own favourite resources!
Good Vibes, Good Life by Vex King
How Not To Die by Michael Greger
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
It’s never too late to begin again by Julia Cameron
Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo
The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod
The Power of Now by Eckhart TolleWheat Belly (or Weizenwampe) by William Davis
And I can’t believe I didn’t include Invisible Women on my list!! It definitely deserved a spot. I’ve loaned it to a friend to read and thus didn’t see it on my bookshelf but I would be very remiss if I didn’t highly recommend it!
I would love to know what is in YOUR morning routine! Please share your favourite resources, by either sending me an email or commenting on social media. And let me know if you try anything new from the suggestions above. I’d love to know how you get on!
Hope you are enjoying a beautiful summer wherever you are, and your mornings are filled with sunshine and joy!
Have a wonderful weekend!