One of the few things that many successful and disciplined people have in common is a routine that taps them into their ideal state. Whether this is a morning routine, a ritual before speaking engagements, or a midday reminder, the key is consistency and adaptability.
While I was first developing my routine, I labeled it as a Morning Routine and forced myself to engage in certain activities to get my mind in a place of possibility. What I realized over time is that each day calls for something different, and while my "routine" now varies day to day, the goal is the same....tap into my ideal STATE of mind.
I had some deeply ingrained negative self-talk patterns and found myself in negative energy often throughout my day. I felt like I was trapped inside a shell of pessimism, and I didn't know how to reconnect with who I truly was deep down.
I discovered that taking time in the morning to Mind-Map my Intention for the day created a positive state of possibility, curiosity, and overall motivation to do the work. And what is 'the work'? Well, it is whatever you deem as needed to accomplish what you want in your life. We all are drawn to certain activities, experiences, status, and people. This may be a bold assumption, but from what I gather from others and feel for myself, we are all seeking fulfillment - a sense of living our purpose and a feeling of progress.
We want to swim in our natural Happy Chemicals, and we want to feel sustainable and balanced growth. Not for you? Sometimes we can fear our full-capabilities because it seems like it will be so much work or that it is too risky. But I ask, what better way to live life than to pursue one's dreams and learn to fall more in love with life as you elevate yourself with each challenge faced?
We are creatures of habit. 95% of what you thought yesterday, you will also think today. More than 40% of your daily actions are completed on auto-pilot. Habits save us a lot of time and energy, allowing more energy to be directed towards our higher-consciousness and bodily functions. We are simply incomprehensible complex machines after all. The problem is, most of us drain a lot of energy throughout our day; worrying, worrying that we are worrying, in fear, fearful that we will always be fearful, negatively comparing, judging, eating shitty food, feeling bad about eating shitty food, and ultimately, ruminating in the past and projecting into the uncertain future.
Not that these activities are useless, or that our work is in detaching from them all together, but how about that age-old wisdom of Balance?
I am all for being pragmatic and compassionate. It is a beautiful gift to be able to reflect on your actions and determine where you may have fucked up, where you exceeded expectations, and where you coasted. Not to make you feel bad, but to be a witness to 'what happened,' detach from any story of guilt, blame, or shame, and choose a course of action. It is what it is. Sitting and stewing in your regrets is not a necessary element of forgiveness, learning, and growth.
But, again, we are creatures of habit. Our subconscious learns to fear similar situations when it feels shame, regret, embarrassment, or any other negative emotion, because its job is to protect you by avoiding similar "danger" in the future.
Living on auto-pilot leaves you at the mercy of your animalistic subconscious. A life lived with mindfulness, strategy, and balance puts you in the driver-seat, creating and editing your life's work as you breathe through it. Way more efficient.
Good news: Your inner-wisdom is waiting to be heard and it is eager to guide you towards creating the life your heart is yearning to sing.
I know one thing for sure, everyone learns differently. I have found a lot of pleasure in reflecting on what works in my life and finding ways to translate into adaptable forms of practice. Writing is one of those outlets. Being in the process of writing a book, I found myself in need of truly understanding how to tap into my ideal state more regularly throughout the day. Here are what I deem to be the 5 Keys to Tapping into Your Ideal State:
1. Deep Belly Breaths
It is a common issue to not know how to breathe deep into the belly. Many of us have spent most of our life sucking our belly in, thinking that holding it tight all the time will make our muscles stronger and leaner. Well, turns out the opposite is true. If you hold your belly in all day long, your core muscles are exhausted and will not develop properly, in balance. So let that belly hang! Put your hand on your belly, and breathe deep. Feel your belly button expand away from your body. Pause at the top. Slowly exhale, and assist your belly button in towards your spine, hollowing out until there is nothing left. Now, let go of tension and allow your belly to inflate like a balloon. Continue for five deep belly breaths.
When we breathe like this, our mind and body tap into natural relaxation and release. Our habitually fearful or anxious mind will calm down when our breath leads the way. Let your breath be your greatest teacher.
2. Get to know Your Higher-Self
I struggled a lot as a teenager. I found it to be so frustrating to sit down and do any exams to learn more about what I could do for a living or what kind of category I fit in based on IQ type questions. I would read a question and my answer would be, "sometimes yes, sometimes no," or "it depends," or "when I am in a good mood yes but when I am in a bad mood, hell no." These exams made it more clear that I was a community within my own mind and body. Your Higher-Self is the you you strive to be. It is you when you have had a good sleep, you have eaten well, you have taken time to connect with others, connect with yourself, and you feel you are making progress forward. That is who you are at your core. Get to know that core. What does it feel like? How do you respond when you are in that state? What external conditions support you in tapping into that state? What internal conditions are necessary for you to tap into that state? This is the most important relationship you will ever foster, you between you.
3. We crave Progress
We are biologically hardwired to crave and love progress. We get a boost of dopamine when our mind and body assess a situation as promoting our survival. Progress feels good. Begin your day by completing something on your to-do list. Whether you begin with the biggest or top priority item, or just follow the mantra of "Just Start," our mind reacts with dopamine which will motivate you to keep going.
4. We naturally Compare
We are biologically programmed to notice others and compare ourselves in terms of status. The problem is not that we compare ourselves, the problem is we believe these thoughts to be fact and pure truth, and allow ourselves to feel bad or do crazy things to get attention. We can fill this gap by taking time daily to think and write out what we are grateful for. You can take time daily to reflect on how far you have come and what you are proud of. And, take time to acknowledge the beauty and the benefits of where and who you are in this moment. There are always ways we can negatively compare ourselves, and others, but we can reverse that habit and learn to retrain our thoughts to absolutely love and appreciate what is.
5. Save energy to Respond versus React
We have a certain amount of energy to use on a daily basis. There are ways to create a bit more and conserve what we have. But overall, the best plan of action is to limit the amount of ways you waste or drain your own energy. When you have a tank full of fuel, you are able to step back from a situation and consciously choose how to respond versus getting caught up in your auto-pilot reactions. When you notice you are replaying a past event, over and over in your mind, remind yourself that you are not fixing anything and are wasting energy you could use for something productive. Redirect your thoughts to gratitude, growth, and do-overs. When you notice you are fantasizing about the future, in worry or in excitement, remind yourself that happiness can only be found right now, with a deep belly breath, and a content smile on your face. Know that this is not about being perfect or training your mind to be always focused and in the present moment. The practice is in noticing what isn't serving you well, choosing love and compassion, and returning to your breath and contentment in the now. The practice is in returning, not staying. The beauty is in growth, not perfection.
Find time each day to tap into this ideal State. Each time you do, it becomes easier and more accessible. It is not a race, and it is not about getting the most done each day. Allow this to be journey, a lifestyle, and a long-game. Over time, with persistence and consistency, you are going to create epic shit and be who you truly want to be.