"You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine." — John C. Maxwell
Let’s start this by setting the record straight - I am not, by nature, a morning person. At all.
I am a set the alarm half-an-hour early just to hit the snooze button for the duration, drag my ass out of bed, don’t talk to me before I’ve had my coffee kind of girl.
Night owl. Through and through.
I’m most alert in the evenings, have my best ideas in the later hours of the day, and when left to my own devices, I will always stay up late. As someone with an insomniac past and tendencies, I get the night and the night gets me.
So, I have, despite all the rage, resisted a morning ritual for a long time.
I’ve heard Tim Ferriss’s words, “Your morning routine will determine your success for your day and your life.” I’m aware of the countless number of successful people like Winston Churchill, Steve Jobs, Anna Wintour, Tony Robbins, and Benjamin Franklin who count(ed) a morning routine as a part of their secret sauce. I've read the Times article that shared Laura Vanderkam's study, noting that almost all high-achievers have a morning routine.
I was fully aware of the potential I could add to my days with a morning ritual, but I couldn’t fathom the idea of intentionally waking up to start my day earlier. So, I resisted and argued to myself...I mean, come on, how much can some feel-good activities in the morning really affect your day?
Then, as fate would have it, my boyfriend wanted to start a morning routine, and I wanted to be supportive. So, we started small. 5 minutes in the morning. Then we added to those 5 minutes, and the morning ritual grew.
I gotta tell you, there really is something to it.
The days I practiced my morning routine were more productive and focused, but I was also calmer and happier. I'm now able to include things that are important to me that would have otherwise been skipped.
The days I rushed through my morning, skipping over my ritual, were often the days I felt more frazzled, less intentional, less grounded.
When I skipped my new routine I just let life happen to me instead of creating focus to let myself happen to life.
As Eric Barker astutely points out: "So of course you aren’t achieving your goals. You immediately started with what the world threw at you and then just reacted, reacted, reacted as new things came in until the day ended or you were too exhausted to do what was important."
This is where the power of having a morning ritual really hit me. No one needs a morning ritual, but a morning ritual starts our day off intentionally. A morning ritual puts us in the driver's seat of our day.
How many of us are living our life on autopilot, merely accepting and then reacting to whatever our days throw at us?
A morning routine allows us to break that pattern, and instead, focus our mind and energy in the direction of our choosing.
Starting our days off with a positive morning ritual influences the rest of our day; it primes us to filter in more positivity.
Steffanie Wilk, Associate Professor of Management and Human Resources at Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business, found in a study: “We saw that employees could get into these negative spirals where they started the day in a bad mood and just got worse over the course of the day...Starting off at work wearing rose-colored glasses - or gray glasses - shapes the way we perceive the rest of the day."
Want the benefits of a morning routine, but not sure you’re ready to give up your morning snooze?
The good news is, you can start small.
According to The Five-Minute Journal, an excellent tool to begin a morning ritual, “In about five minutes per day, you can establish a positive pattern of thinking and acting when it really matters.”
You can build up incrementally to allow time for more in your morning ritual.
My favorite part of my newfound morning ritual is that it's all mine. No matter what happens during the day, I feel like I have this secret because I’ve already done something for me. I don't have to wait until the end of the day when I've finished my commitments to cram in a few minutes of me time.
Want to create your own morning ritual? Next week, I’ll share a few ideas on what to include in a morning ritual aside from that on-so-essential cup of coffee ;).