“You are what you repeatedly do.” – Aristotle
This quote got me thinking about “Who am I” and “what was I doing over and over that led me to this point.” When I first asked myself these questions a years ago, I recognized that I was half alive, no intentional practices were put into place, and values I “believed in” weren’t consistently demonstrated because I was too busy, too stuck, too afraid or simply trying too hard to “make life happen” – among other excuses. There was no real flow, everything was sporadic. Life was blah. Life was happening to me, more downs than ups, and at the time, everything else was the culprit, except me of course. I was forcing everything. I was running on autopilot instead of on purpose.
When I was over that lifestyle once and for all, I decided to narrow down how I wanted life to look and feel. I started out general:
“I want to feel more joy and I want to experience [more] success.”
I later defined these generic phrases to more specific terms of my own. So joy and success it was…that’s who I was setting out to be.
Next I had to decide what I was going to repeatedly do to “get to that desired happy place.” Over time, I accumulated quite a few practices and resources to live a more full life, but I started to experience my shift because I stuck to one thing I knew would yield more results towards my personal development mission. That one thing: my morning routine.
From my days as a student-athlete, I had every minute of the day organized to ensure optimal performance and productivity in all of my daily life activities. I figured now that I’m “adulting” and in the workforce without the same level of accountability I had grown used to, my route to joy and success would be up to me.
So with the desire to return to the same level of performance and productivity and to plug into the joy and success I wanted to experience more often and on purpose, I began to implement the morning that to this day, I protect at all costs.
Here are the 5 Daily Habits I Practice to Plug Into Joy & Success:
- Like You Mean It:
One of the first strategies I began implementing when I was on the path to turning my mundane life around was jumping straight out of bed like I was meant to be here…like I was meant to be alive. To get my energy going, sometimes I would dance around a bit or pretend that I was getting hyped up before a basketball game. I was on a mission to elevate how I operate and did not have time to snooze. This is still part of my "wake up like you mean it" process. Over time, I began to notice that the same zest and energy I greeted the day with is what I got in return.
To this day, here is where it all starts for me. Jumping straight out of bed like I mean it! Interestingly, a year or so after implementing this practice, I cam across a Lewis Howes podcast that made me smile from the depths of my soul because it helped me to uncover "the science" behind the very strategy that turned my mornings and my life around! Now it all makes sense why this is such an important skill to practice and I encourage you to watch the video or read up on this for yourself and try it out the next time you wake up!
- Attitude of Gratitude:
After getting my juices flowing, I would walk into my bathroom, look myself in the mirror and take a few minutes to express my gratitude for all that was and declare with excitement and expectancy the desires of my heart that were on their way!
Instead of begrudging my life experiences (because yes, there were plenty of unpleasant things that were going on in my life at that time), I began to wake up and intentionally acknowledge the things that I was truly appreciative to be, do, and have. I would then go into a quiet meditation – anywhere from 15-30mins typically. I would then jump up do my little happy dance or stretch for a bit, text my best friend Gloria good morning and we’ll tell one another what our intentions are for the day. This practice makes us deliberately focused on something that reminds us that we are vibrational beings and have the power to create the experiences we wish to have in life by taking a moment at the start of the day to affirm it as well as express our appreciate for what is in the now – trust me, it is sometimes a challenge.
It would help to understand how your emotions DO contribute to your experiences and interactions, so this might be a great "beginner's resource."
- Fit Is In:
When I first started these morning practices, I was a "boomerang kid" living back at home with my parents. While I had all sorts of mixed emotions about living back at home and was not fulfilled or even sure what I really wanted in my personal or professional life anymore, the upside was that this was the time when I met my now bestie and her husband. We not only became friends, but accountability partners in life, work, and health.
Each of us were at various stages of "happiness" and "progress" in those different life areas, so we vowed to make sure we would encourage each other to accomplish what we really wanted. Specifically, we focused on pushing each other in the area of health and fitness. For months we would train bright and early (5am) either at a gym in our community or in the one they built in their garage.
Back then, I was definitely more of a night owl than an early bird, but I was willing to retrain my mind and body to seize the day, especially if that meant more happiness, connecting with people where love and encouragement was effortless, feeling good, looking good, and having a clear mindset to kick butt each day was going to be the end result!
Today, my "Fit Is In" routine is all over the place. I don't just limit myself to the gym. I enjoy going for hikes in the beautiful Arizona trails and mountains, riding my bike, playing basketball, boxing or simply walking around my neighborhood. The goal for me isn't just my weight/physique, this part of my morning is primarily to ensure that I keep myself active! As it turns out there are so many benefits to moving in the morning!
- Breakfast of Champions:
A family that eats together is my kind of family! We're familiar with breakfast being really important, but especially after a workout, it is your fuel. It was fun to eat with my friends/workout buddies! We all had specific goals in mind at the time and that dictated what we ate. Today however, my desire is to just feel good, so I find "mood food" that gives me that. To be 100% honest, there are some days where I absolutely want (and eat) my own brand of cookies or other "unconventional breakfast foods." It is very rare, but it does happen, I don't believe in depriving myself. I do consider what it is that I will want to accomplish that day and if I will be ok to give in to my cookie monster temptation before making that choice. Otherwise, it's usually oatmeal and fruit I get from my local farmer's market every Saturday morning! I also use this time to prepare other meals and snacks for my day to ensure that I remain nourished without the guilt.
- Deliberate Creator:
After I clean up the kitchen and get ready for my day, I review my top priorities that I want to accomplish for the day. I list 3 personal and 3 professional objectives because I wanted to keep it short and sweet (again, please remember this was the me back when I took on the challenge to build momentum towards a new life).
I say that to say we can't tackle everything we want to see change in our life all at once, because it’s simply overwhelming. I often found that eliminating the long list allowed me to be more clear, energized and I would start to execute more efficiently. The "weight" and pressure of the long list was too much.
Also, I later connected with a mentor who played a pivotal role in my life and recommended an awesome book, The ONE Thing. This helped me deliberately create each day based on one overarching goal I wanted in my life. Today, I have a similar practice except I can stretch myself to look at more than 3 personal and professional goals (but it gets tricky for me even still because I can get a little distracted)! I have learned there is absolutely nothing wrong with starting small changes until you master them. Baby steps are still steps!
So that's it. This was my morning routine that turned my life around - in addition to some of the slight modifications I use to this day! I’d like to reiterate that it’s critical to define what you want to experience – how your ideal life would look and feel – and what you can repeatedly practice to ensure you elevate how you operate and actually experience more of your desired lifestyle. If it’s too challenging to define specifics about what you want, go general!
Here is a helpful tip to re-frame your “don't wants” into your desires:
Explore and list out on the left side of a sheet of paper what you’re experiencing in life right now that you don’t like or don't want and across from each response to the right, list out what you’d prefer instead.
For me, lack of fulfillment and scattered living was what I didn't want to experience anymore, so "joy" and "purposeful living" were my desires - yes very general, but that was my starting point. This meant I had to get clear and organized in my life and do things because they were in alignment with what I wanted and ultimately made me happy. My morning routine was my way of getting on track and I highly encourage adopting some practices of your own to get in a new groove, especially considering it’s the start of a new year!
Do you already have a morning practice to ease you into your day? What do you do if so? What other daily habits do you implement for optimal performance, peace of mind and productivity in life? In short, how do you elevate how you operate? Share in the comments below!
Ms. Marisha, The ZENtertainer, shares simple SOULutions to stress less (and love more) when life presents unpredictable obstacles. She is the author of Crumbling Walls: 33 Moments That Derailed My Happily Ever After. Major life transitions are inevitable and pretending all is good when it is everything but, was an all-too-familiar experience Marisha lived. She uses this common existence to help others in their navigation of these spaces. Using expressive writing as a tool to mend her own relationship with the hardships she encountered in work, life, and love, Ms. Marisha, through this book, gives readers a safe space to confidently voice concerns about their unpredictable life path. Marisha is an Associate Faculty with the Integrative Health Initiative in the School of Social Work at Arizona State University in Phoenix, Arizona.