“The first blow is half the battle.” How you start your day matters. And how you end it matters, too.
Successful people not only manage their 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM differently, they make their days memorable by framing them with a morning and evening routine.
A morning routine and an evening routine, something that runs repeatedly in the same way, will help you create a constant in this ever changing world and give you some anchoring and peace to manage the adversity you’ll face throughout the day.
Elements of a morning routine:
- Conquering your mind – do something that will show your mind “who is the boss” something that requires effort and grants you the first accomplishment of the day.
- Silence, meditation, prayer – train your mind to resist urgency, tap into the resource power of silence and breathing.
- Gratefulness – remind yourself of the things you have in order to put in context the things you want
- Creativity – leverage the creative power of your rested brain in the morning
- Inspiration – Flood your mind with positivity and possibility.
- Planning the day – Define the must dos of the day, those elements that will move you forward towards your goal
Elements of a morning routine:
- Journaling – Capture the lessons of the day, reflect on what happened and find a meaning for you.
- Inspiration – Flood your mind with possibility. Visualize your goal. Give your brain something positive to work on while you sleep
- Planning the next day – Define the must dos of the next day, those elements that will move you forward towards your goal. Spare your brain from decision fatigue and plan the night before
VIDEO TRANSCRIPT AND QUOTES:
Hi everybody. It’s Tasso.
How good do you feel about your day? Generally! How fulfilled are you at the end of the day? How often do you find yourself doing the things that you wanted, versus saying things like “Same shit different day.”
You know, “same shit different day” is not necessarily a bad thing. People look at the day and ask themselves “So what’s today different that yesterday?” But they look only at the activities, at the things that they did. But you see, in order to feel good about your day, you need to have a sense of progress. You need to advance in something.
In order to advance in something consistency is not a bad thing. “Same shit, different day” is not really bad when you refer to the things that you do. “Same shit, different day” is bad when you refer to the person you are.
If you don’t feel that you made any progress, that you learned something, that you feel farther than you were in any of those activities that you wanted to do, you will feel miserable.
When you ask people how a typical day runs in their lives, most people will say, “I get up, I dress up the kids, bring kids to school, go to work, come back, kids, dinner. A little bit of relaxing time when kids are in bed and then sleep. And all over again.”
Doesn’t sound any inspiring, does it?
When I realized that I’m in the same treadmill, I wanted to change something. And counter-intuitively, I didn’t think of eliminating something. Because what could I possibly eliminate? You can’t get rid of the kids. You can’t get rid of the job. I thought of adding stuff because let’s face it, the reality is that we don’t really do a lot of things, but we just do those things that drain us and that suck all the energy.
Sounds sensible to actually add things that will counterbalance these negative stressing moments, and which could re-energize and fuel you. Here’s what I did.
As a first step, I thought of those things that I felt were missing in my life. I wanted to have more “me time”. I wanted time to think. I’m an introvert. It might not seem like this, but I’m an introvert, and I need some time to sort my thoughts. I wanted to exercise more. I wanted to read more. I haven’t read a book in years.
Those were things that I did not think I SHOULD be doing. Those were the things that I WANTED to do. Those were the things that I wanted to have in my life. I wanted those things to be the things that define me.
As a next step then, I looked at my current life. How does my current day look like? The current day looked no different than what I described before for most of people.
I woke up at seven o’clock. We got the kids ready for school, and dropped them off at school. Work nine to five then back to pick up the kids (unless the kids were already home because the spouse picked them up). Then the kids go to bed, around eight or nine, and finally a little bit of relaxing time in front of the TV or internet, and off to sleep.
How could one possibly merge step one with step two? From 7:00 AM until 9:00 PM, the day is blocked. If you look at this, the only flexible time that I could have is 7:00 AM or after 9:00 PM.
I left it there because I thought there’s no way I can do anything before 7:00 AM, and there’s no way I can do anything after 9:00 PM. I’m dead. When the kids are in bed, I don’t feel like doing anything. The only energy I have is for some passive TV and some internet. That was how I was feeling. I left it there, and I did nothing for a long period of time.
But then I thought “no, let me take it step by step”. Take something small, and do something that is really implementable. I didn’t aim yet to change the early morning and late evening, I started to look at what I could do differently during the day.
As I mentioned earlier, one thing that I wanted to do was to read more. So I scrutinized the day, and I found those empty or idle slots that actually everybody has, which is the commute to work. And as much as I love reading a paper book, as much as I love turning the pages around and smelling the paper, I think it was more important to actually read a book than just thinking about it. So I moved to audio books, and a lot of things changed since then. Because I chose to listen to the books that were about personal development, and success and all these things.
Those books were actually tackling the things I’ve been struggling with. Those books were actually giving me solutions to the problem that I had, how to master the mornings and the evenings. They were linking this to successful people saying that the successful people, not only managed their 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM differently, they also woke up earlier, and they ended their days differently.
Still of course waking up before 7:00 AM was unpleasant as a thought, but at least I had something at hand, at least I had some recommendations that I could, as a starting point, implement.
Figuring this out was not even as difficult as you might think it would be, because all these books recommended the same things. Either one was copying from another, which was very probable, or those recommended things actually really work. I was very intrigued to try them out.
There were a couple of recommendations that I wanted now to share with you so that you get an idea of what these guys recommended.
MORNING ROUTINE – CONQUER YOUR MIND
Number one was around winning over your mind. Getting ahead of your mind, strengthen your will power. These were suggestions not to snooze the alarm when you wake up. Or exercising in the morning, or taking a cold shower…something that you dread the most. These were possibilities to demonstrate to your mind who’s the boss. I made another blog post about this. You might have seen this already, if not, please go back and have a look at that.
MORNING ROUTINE – SILENCE, MEDITATION, PRAYER
Another area was around silence and meditation. It was around giving yourself time to just be, to just listen to your thoughts, to not react to your thoughts. It could be meditating or really just sitting silently in a room.
The point here is about resisting urgency. When you sit silently, thoughts will come into your mind. Things that you feel you need to act upon, but resisting this will build in you a sense of control and strengthen you.
MORNING ROUTINE – GRATEFULNESS
Another area was around gratefulness. People very, very often stated that they found some time in their morning routines to just be grateful for the things that they have. Gratefulness here is not about, “I’m happy that I have a car”, or “I’m happy that my home’s great, the area’s great where I live”. You can discover real gratefulness when you think about things that make you shiver. Those things that give you goose-skin when you realize that you have them in your life. It’s a really nice exercise, and I can highly recommend that you do that. Think and write down optimally the things that you’re grateful for.
MORNING ROUTINE – CREATING
Another thing, another area that successful people recommended was around leveraging your creativity in the morning. Often the mind in the morning is the most creative. Successful people who master their day consistently wrote in the morning or they created something.
MORNING ROUTINE – INSPIRATION
Yet another area is around inspiration in the morning. To kick off the day on a positive note. That could mean watching inspirational videos on YouTube, or a Ted talk. Others preferred to read something, an inspiring article.
Those were the main recommendations for the morning. The evening was a little lighter than that.
EVENING ROUTINE – JOURNALING
Most mentioned was clearly “journaling”. Everybody said that you have to capture your lessons, your learnings in order to improve for the next day. You need to make sure that you review the day. What went well? What didn’t go well? That you understand how you reacted.
EVENING ROUTINE – INSPIRATION
Similar to the morning they talked about “inspiration”. Here the thinking is around the way you end the day. The thought that you carry over into your sleep is the first thought that you will have in the morning. You have to give your mind the time when it dreams even to work on those things, and it better works on good things than on bad things.
EVENING ROUTINE – PLANNING
Another element they recommended for the evening was planning. Planning ahead the next day. In fact, planning was something that people seem to do at different timings. Either they do this in the evening, planning the day ahead, or they do it in the morning of the same day.
Planning here does not only cover the things that I want to do, it also looks at the person you want to be. If you have ambitions to be more understanding or to be more listening, or simply a behavioral change like taking the stairs in the office…these are the things that you can state to yourself every single morning or evening so that you keep reminding yourself of these things that you wanted to do or change.
As much as I didn’t know how this is going to work out for me, and how I would pick and choose from all these recommendations, honestly this gave me a sense of freedom. It gave me a great feeling of me being able to design the day. It gave me a great feeling of me being a creator.
As much as this is common sense, most people don’t leverage that power they have. They don’t believe that they can actually run their day according to what they want. Nothing is further from the truth, of course they can.
Since then I’ve been experimenting a little bit here and there with my mornings and my evenings. I changed things of course, and here’s also my lesson to you: give yourself some time with this. Be patient.
Give yourself time to actually identify those things that really matter to you. You will see whether exercise is really the thing that you wanted to have in your life, or whether writing or creativity is something that you want to do in the morning. There will be trial and error. You will add things and drop off other things.
And also, you need to be patient with all the distractions, the disruptions and setbacks. You will be get sick at some point of time, which will not allow you to run the day as you wanted to. Maybe your kids will wake up early some times because they are sick or because they had a nightmare, and they will disrupt you.
But that’s okay, as long as you just stick to it. You stick to it because it will change you. It will give you so much more, it will give you a better understanding about yourself. See, designing your day will not only help you master your day, It will help you master yourself. “The way you set the tone, the music will sound”.
As humans we need something constant. Something constant in this ever changing world that will give us some anchoring and peace. I suggest that a morning routine and an evening routine, something that runs again and again in the same way, can and will do that for you.
With this I hope that I could give you some ideas how to better run your day, how to better feel about your day. I hope that I gave you some inspiration and even some tactics that you can pick and choose from.
If you want to hear more about this, you can either google the elements I mentioned in terms of morning and evening routines, or please feel free to contact me. I’m very happy to give you more details on all of these areas that people recommended and I have experience with.
I hope this was helpful, I hope you liked it. If you did, please subscribe for more. Until the very next blog post, I wish you a wonderful day. Take care.