*This blog post was written for my beautiful and inspiring friend Kelly who is the creator of Tots n Squats - a website and blog focused on supporting new mothers in living a healthy and active life. Check out www.totsnsquats.com
I am a huge believer in the power of a morning routine. What I have learned along the way is the importance of variety and allowing yourself to evolve. Each day looks different. Each day has the unique aftermath of the day before, and the experience, the learnings, and the residual effects of the struggles and successes from the accumulation of our past as a whole. We are always changing, always in flux, and always moving through space and time. Where your choice comes into the mix is in how much you change, how far you grow, what direction your life takes, and what YOU learn along the way.
One of the best ways - I have experienced - to start my day off in a way that fosters the most growth, is to ask myself questions and put pen to paper. This could be in the form of a mind-map:
Set an intention for your day, write in on a fresh piece of paper, and put a circle around it. Allow that word or short-phrase to sink in. Take a few deep breaths and repeat it mindfully. How does that feel? What other words come to mind? Synonyms? What could this intention bring into your life today? How would that feel? What else is needed to ensure this intention stays top of mind? What other words come to mind? Branching off from the center word, your page fills with powerful, energetic, engaging, loving, bad-ass words. After a few minutes, choose three tangible Actions to complete that day. Actions that will keep your intention top of mind or Actions that embody that intention.
The productivity and clarity that comes from this simple practice is mind-blowing. But, then it becomes a habit, and although it continues to bring focus, clarity, and self-awareness into your life, it stops bringing the magic (i.e. rush of natural Happy Chemicals) that it once did. We get used to anything we continually expose ourselves to, for better or for worse. We are creatures of habit, we long for routine; it feels safe and comfortable. But it also makes us feel stagnant, bored, and craving variety and newness. It’s human nature, and can be the cause of so much confusion. Slight variation in our routine can provide huge spurts of happy chemicals, it can change our perspective, and it can open up new possibilities of growth and learning as it teaches us more about ourselves – our triggers, our baggage, our passions, our fears, our needs and desires.
Something I know about myself is I love to categorize ideas into groups of four. I find strength in the number. It symbolizes the four directions on a compass, the four pillars that hold monstrous architecture together, the four limbs, but most importantly, it brings simplicity into whatever I am trying to communicate and ensures it is easy to remember.
My morning routine has evolved. It continues to be a practice and I love noticing what works and what once worked that no longer serves who I am now. The consistent piece of this routine is allowing yourself to step back and observe without attaching meaning or judgment and really getting clear on how you want to feel.
To assist you in your journey to create the best life possible, inside and out, here is another outline to bring into your morning routine repertoire.
The Four In’s and On’s
Allow yourself 10 minutes without disruption. If there is disruption, accept it for what it is, and work with it the best that you can. You can’t control the outcome or how other people will respond, you can only control your effort, your input, and your focus.
#1: Check in
Take a few moments to connect with your breath. Slow, intentional, deeply felt breaths. Then, ask yourself, how do you feel in this moment? What do you notice? Where do you feel it?
# 2: Tune in
Observing how you feel without judging or attaching meaning to it, ask yourself, what do you need? What do you need to let go of? What do you need to embrace? How do you want to feel at the end of the day?
#3: Turn on
Package this feeling and this intention for your day into one word or a short phrase, i.e., “strength”, “resilience”, “love”, “breathe through struggle”, “breathe, reflect, grow”, “shine my light everywhere”, “I am enough”,….you get the idea.
Repeat this a few times in your mind. Let it sink in, let it land. Your focus is like air, water, and fuel, the more you repeat something and the more you surround yourself with it, the more it integrates into your reality.
Feel free to set reminders in your phone to revisit that intention/mantra throughout the day, or simply breath it in, breathe it out, and move on with your day.
#4: Move on
It takes only 10 mindful and intentional minutes a day for you to feel like you are making progress. Take a couple minutes to write three Actions for your day. These Actions could include exercise, fresh air, connecting with someone, creating something, food to eat or not eat, conversations to have, ‘things’ to hold onto, ‘things’ to let go of, etc.
Have a beautiful day xoxo