How you start the day matters – in fact, a solid morning routine can be the backbone of a good day. We believe that taking some time to be intentional about the day ahead can completely change the flow and texture of your experience. And although we are part of a culture that “optimizes” everything to death, it can be useful to have a look at how our current morning routine might not be setting us up for success. With a few simple tweaks, you might better align your goals and values with your actions – and carry that spirit through the rest of the day! Read on for our tips on how to build a morning routine with meaning…
First Things First
How often do we start the day with scarcity? If you are anything like me, most days, I wake up thinking “shoot, I’ve overslept. I’m already late. There isn’t enough time for all the stuff I need to do today.” Before I’m even out of bed, I don’t have enough. I’m anxious. I’m on the back foot.
A simple tweak might involve giving ourselves a more loving, gentle start. It could sound like this “Aw, hey. I know we are tired today! I bet we can find time today for something sweet. If I get my work done, I’ll make time to have a manicure.” Fill in the blank to make it suit your circumstances. The main point is, go easy on yourself. Talk nicely. And don’t let your day begin with a mad inventory of how little time and energy you have.
Most 12-step fellowships advise a morning prayer and meditation practice. If you are a believer, this might be pretty straightforward. If you are just getting started and want to try this out, I promise, it can be life-changing. It doesn’t need to be big and dramatic and take an hour. Most importantly, you are building a habit that can sustain you and one you can hopefully stick with.
When I was first sobering up, I was religious about my morning cigarette and coffee. I wouldn’t do a single thing before I had that simple morning ritual. Well, they say the surest way to build a habit is to tack it onto another habit, so I used my morning coffee and smoke to read some spiritual literature, say a few prayers, and sit quietly for five minutes. It worked! It got me in the game every morning.
Now that I’ve got two young kids, the mornings often take off at the starting gun. Gone are the days of a leisurely coffee and smoke. Often, the most I can do is smile at the ceiling in a nod to my higher power and try to take a few deep breaths and feel my body before I get into the race. Even so, that is enough. From the moment I open my eyes, I try to remember that I am part of something bigger, guidance and intuition are available to me, and life is friendly. It changes the tone of my day.
Find Some Meaning
When I remember to do this, the results are measurable. While it is easy to hustle through the day reactively, and just put out whatever fire is in front of me, my tasks take on new importance when I find time to connect with my values first thing in the morning.
Most of us sleepwalk through our responsibilities and rarely reflect on why we are doing these things in the first place. When I wake up in the morning, I try to pause and remember what is important to me. I set an intention to lead with a value – like presence or mindfulness. Sometimes, I task myself with just being a very good breather that day. The chances are, I will show up to my life with a deeper reverence, patience, and view of the big picture.
Now, it is worth saying that I do all of this very imperfectly. Often, the best I can do is stumble to the coffeemaker and check my phone. But when I make time for connection first thing, I tend to have a much kinder day. I feel part of the flow, and I’m a better worker, partner, mother, and friend to those in my path. Simple, yet not totally easy. Worth trying though, I promise.