How you start your your day is everything!
Look, I’m not a morning person. Never have been. It takes me a while to get moving and get the blood flowing. Especially this time of year, when the air is crisper and chillier. I would much rather stay buried under my piles of blankets, snuggled up next to my sweet little Ernie.
Fortunately for me, Ernie (my new puppy) is like an alarm clock.
He gets me up pretty much the same time every morning with a tremendous amount of energy. He is definitely a morning dog. He greets each morning with a zest for life and overflowing joy.
Just another thing I feel my dog is trying to teach me.
Since his arrival, I have revamped my morning routine. As someone who talks a lot about creating the Bookends (the intentionality in which you start and end each day), I still need reminders, myself, of why rocking my morning routine makes all the difference.
So, after studying the habits of many of my teachers, whether in James Clear’s Atomic Habits, Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before, Hal Elrod’s The Miracle Morning, Robin Sharma’s The 5 AM Club, or Brendon Burchard’s High Performance Habits, I finally found a combination that works best for me.
You see, that’s the opportunity in itself … to find your own path.
What works for one person doesn’t always work for another. I used to get so frustrated around why I couldn’t sustain the rituals and practices of other high performers and influencers. I would beat myself up mercilessly when I would fall off track only just after getting a little momentum.
It wasn’t until I started to explore my Human Design over five years ago that things began to make a little more sense. For instance, willpower is not my jam. Doing things just for the sake of doing them, or because I think I should is not sustainable for me. I do not have consistent access to willpower and will fizzle out, most times before I even really get going.
When I connect what I am doing to my why, or to the desired outcome in a way that is meaningful and lights me up … game changer!
I can sustain all kinds of practices when it's aligned to my bigger why and is the correct and right “yes” for me.
I also felt validated when I realized that routines can feel stifling for me. Take my writing, for instance. While I do write every day, when I do it varies. In fact, I am writing this piece before bed, when other times I write first thing in the morning or sometime in the middle of the day.
The point being is that I am deeply committed to writing as that is an easy “yes” for me. It’s aligned with my why and I feel truly connected to it. It’s not an easy “yes” to commit to doing it the same time every day.
So, I don’t. It’s called freedom in the framework. My commitment is to write. The when is flexible.
We each have nuances within our own energetic wiring and coding that can either feel liberating or stifling. When we give ourselves permission to be who we are, and operate in the how we are, we allow ourselves a better chance of keeping those promises and commitments we make to ourselves.
It’s only when we take time to better understand our innate wiring that we can establish practices and rituals that work best for us.
For me, I have found that there are three things I personally need every morning to start my day off right. When I do these three things, the rest of my day flows more easily and effortlessly.
I like to refer to them as my Morning M.A.P.™
When I first wake up, and often am still lying in bed with my sweet dog, I will bring my awareness back into my body. I connect slowly and deliberately with my breath and give myself space to ground and centered myself. I focus on the gratitude I have for this new day.
Before you do anything else, it is essential that you take a moment to connect to yourself, to your higher power, and to life itself.
Even a simple gratitude practice can work wonders to create space to get grounded & centered within your own body.
Breathe work is another way to go within, as is meditation. When you choose to start your day from a place of mindfulness, you are able to pour out more to those you love & those you serve.
Once I get up, brush my teeth and all, I look to bring some life into my body. I want to wake up my cells and get the blood pumping. I focus on activation of my mind, body, and spirit. So, I grab my sneakers, my Airpods, Ernie’s leash, and then I head out for a minimum of a 30-minute brisk walk with Ernie to fully wake up.
Often times, I either listen to an uplifting podcast or audiobook (just recently I finished Hidden Potential by Adam Grant … phenomenal read, I highly recommend it). Or, if I am feeling more like I need a slower, easier pace, I opt for some instrumental spiritual music by turning on one of my many playlists on Spotify.
Here’s one of my personal favorites: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6QpSRGpIrLT6ag6tu4J7HF
Movement is key. Your body needs to wake up. Your cells need to wake up. Activating your mind, body & spirit is absolutely one of the most powerful ways to start your day. It starts with rehydrating yourself with clean water, with gentle movements to get the blood & oxygen flowing, and to open up direct access to your inner truth.
This is your time to breathe life back into your soul.
After Ernie and I finish our walk, I make some coffee, and then I sit with my notebook and I set my intention for the day. I bring myself back to my why, my mission, and my purpose.
I look for ways I can serve at my highest and best level. I look at my calendar and mentally begin preparing myself for the meetings and appointments I might have scheduled, or for the strategy work or content I plan to immerse myself in or create for that day.
This ground me further and it gets me excited and ready to show up for my day. It allows me to think through my top priorities for the day and set myself up for success. I prime my tank and get myself ready to lead.
Creating space to connect into your purpose and your compelling why needs to be a non-negotiable in starting your day, every day, even if you only do this in the shower. You need to prime yourself for how you will intentionally lead your day, how you will choose to show up & serve others, and how you will face any challenges the day may bring is a powerful recipe for consistent & sustainable success.
It’s only when you take time to lead yourself first are you able to truly serve and lead others.
I know the quality of my work is dependent on me creating space for me first. Rather than jumping into my email and social media (aka, everyone’s else’s agendas), I am deliberate about taking care of me first.
It’s so easy to get lost in the cacophony of noise around us.
Too many people wake up, grab their phone or devices and start plugging back into the grind and hustle without taking time to prime their own tanks first. We start our days already depleted when we do.
Instead, consider carving our dedicated time for you. Ease into your morning (especially if you’re not a morning person, like me). Allow yourself room to fill your cup so that it spills over, then serve from the overflow.
You know the cliché saying that goes: “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” I say that’s hogwash. Late to bed and late to rise also can make a man (or woman) healthy, wealthy, and wise.
It’s not about the time you get up that makes you successful, it’s about the meaning you give the hours when you are awake that matters. When you give yourself what you need first, and start your day from that lens, all else gets taken care of. It’s about focus management, not time management.
Personally, my Morning M.A.P.™ and my Evening P.J.S.™ (more on that one later) work wonders to get me focused and in the game. By practicing Mindfulness, Activation, and Purpose, I prepare myself for my day, and as such, give myself the best start to lead from.
So, you do you. Find what works best for your rhythms. Create deliberate practices that create space for your own presence with YOU.