This blog post is dedicated to my sweet grandmother, Fannie-Lee Lowe. It took a few years (30, but who’s counting?), but your lessons are finally starting to sink in. What can I say? I’m a slow learner. I love you and appreciate everything you’ve taught me.
Well, I think most of us agree that this year hasn’t exactly played out the way we expected…. When I saw Governor Baker’s first address outlining the reopening of Massachusetts, he discussed phase IV being called “ the new normal.” As human beings, we don’t do very well with change and my knee-jerk reaction was fear and uncertainty. What if my clients all leave? What if the gym doesn’t rehire me? What if someone I love gets sick? Shit, what if I get sick? Like all of you, my mind has been flooded with questions since the start of the pandemic.
However, as I processed it and discussed it with friends/family/colleagues, I remembered the wise words my grandmother once told me: “Change is the only constant in the universe.” I decided that even though this is a scary time, I still have the power over my actions and how I react to my circumstances.
Timing was perfect for me as I was reading “Man Up” by Bedros Keuilian. Side note: Don’t let the title fool you. This is a great book for any aspiring or current entrepreneur, regardless of gender identity. It’s the splash of cold water to the face we all need. One of my biggest takeaways from his book was establishing a morning routine. Bedros said that by starting the day with a solid morning routine, you put yourself in the mindset to win the day. In addition, he’s able to get more done early in the morning when his family is still asleep. I decided to see if it would work for me.
I mean, what excuse did I have? I’m laid-off and have nothing but free time, so why not? I took it step by step and made sure not to overwhelm myself. I drew on the knowledge learned from Atomic Habits and the Power of Habit (two fantastic books that I can’t recommend enough) and layered habits into the morning routine.
Week one, I made the commitment to wake up at the same time every day (during the week, I still sleep-in during the weekends.), 5:30am. Now, this was not the easiest thing to do. I was still used to staying up late watching the original X-Men cartoon on Disney Plus. This was after binge-watching all of Ozark (in 5 days, I’m not proud of it but it happened). As you can imagine, I was waking up pretty late! I forced myself to start laying down by 10:00pm and falling asleep somewhere around 10:30. That way, I got my minimum of 7 hours (I’ve been working on going to bed earlier, now around 8:30/9:00pm).
Week two, I was feeling great and added another habit. In addition to waking up at 5:30am, I would read a verse from “Change your Thoughts Change your Life” by Wayne Dyer. This is a book that gives you his interpretation of the Tao Te Ching, written by the ancient Chinese Philosopher Lao Tzu. He gives you actionable steps on how to apply it to modern life. I can’t recommend this book enough. Despite your religious affiliation, there is a wealth of knowledge and wisdom in this book.
Week three, in addition to waking up at 5:30am, reading a verse from the book, I started performing a 10-minute breath meditation. I sat cross-legged, closed my eyes and tried to focus only on my breath for 10-minutes. It’s not the easiest task if your mind is constantly racing like mine, but whenever my mind starts to wander, I gently bring myself back to the present moment. Right now, I don’t care about going as long as I can, I simply want to be completely present for the 10-minutes before going further.
Week four, in addition to the previous habits, I started writing down 3 things I’m grateful for. This helped me get into a mindset of gratitude, reminding myself that no matter how bad the previous day/week/month/year was, I still have PLENTY to be thankful for.
I think I’m now on week five, but I honestly lost count… Here’s my routine so far:
- Wake up at 5:30am
- Kiss Nano’s forehead, take her out, fire up the coffee pot and fill my water bottle
- Read a verse from Wayne Dyer’s book
- 10-minute breath meditation
- 1-hour dedicated reading/study time
- 3 Gratitudes
- Write a letter to a loved one: family/friend/client
Adopting a morning routine has completely reshaped my day. Not only does my day start more productive, I’m also put into a proactive mindset. This helps me stay on time with my goals, commitments and projects. Honestly, the best part is the silence. With the exception of night-shifters and early-risers, the rest of the world is asleep at 5:30. I can sit down, focus and get shit done. Actually, that’s what Bedros calls his dedicated morning work time: GSD “Get Shit Done” time.
Honestly, I like the routine right where it is at the moment. It takes me about an hour and a half to complete, which is usually just in time for my first early morning personal training session. I won’t add another habit unless it’s worth it. Know the best part of every habit after filling my water bottle? They all take place on the couch. From reading “Change your Thoughts Change your Life” to writing a letter, everything is done while sitting on the couch. This makes it much easier to run through the routine with very minimal distractions. Here are some tips to be even more productive:
- Don’t open up any social media until you’re done with your routine. It’s very easy to get sucked into the wormhole. You know it, I know it. Be honest with yourself on this one.
- Turn your phone to airplane mode. I wish I had started doing this sooner. It turns your phone into a paperweight, temporarily incapable of distracting you.
- Lay everything out the night before. Before I go to bed, the coffee pot is set up so all I have to do is push the button (not the little red button from Men in Black, sorry). In addition, my books, notebooks, paper, pen and envelopes are all in one place. Right before I sit down, I simply grab everything and place it on the coffee table in front of me.
I can’t recommend the morning routine enough. For years, I simply got out of bed last-minute, stressed and immediately went into reactive mode. By making myself get up early and face the day proactively, I’m able to get more done, thus bringing me closer to accomplishing my goals. Give it a try. I highly doubt you’ll regret it. If you don’t like it, we offer a lifetime money back guarantee!
Speaking of building great routines, here’s a full-body workout for you.
To your lifelong health and success,