Have you ever struggled with starting a morning routine? People who have experienced the benefits of a morning routine fall in love with it, but it can seem so challenging to get one started. You start and stop, read all different answers on how long it takes to develop a habit, and when it doesn’t stick it becomes another thing to feel bad about; another thing left unaccomplished.
Getting your morning routine established and enjoying it doesn’t need to be difficult. In fact, it can be a lot of fun! Here’s the secret:
If you want to successfully create your perfect morning routine, the first step is to create it based on what you want to do, not what you should do.
People struggle creating their morning routine because they build it with “shoulds”, instead of building it with what they want. For example:
“I should run every day.”
“I should do affirmations.”
“I should be journaling.”
“I should wake up earlier.”
“I should eat a healthier breakfast.”
When you use the word “should” you start putting a burden on yourself because the word “should” often comes with the implication that we’re doing something wrong. No one likes feeling like they’re doing something wrong, and when you don’t feel good you don’t perform as well. The self-judgement makes it harder for you to make a decision that honors what you really want, and then your morning routine never makes it to fruition.
The sequence looks like this:
Step 1: You think: “I should do x-y-z.” Your sense of self-worth goes down, even if subconsciously, from the feeling that you’re already doing something wrong. That feeling becomes the driving force of the new habit or your new morning routine; now you must start doing x-y-z to become “right.”
Step 2: You start doing what you think you “should” do, but start struggling because self-judgement, the feeling of being wrong, is driving the action. As things continue, that feeling of wrongness is dragged along, and the weight gets tiresome.
Step 3: Things don’t go as you feel they “should”. The perfectionism kicks in, and you miss a day or wake up late, postpone things or say you’ll start over tomorrow, and it either ends there or continues this way a little bit longer, and then stops.
If you’ve struggled with this, you’re familiar with that pattern.
(Sometimes, there’s a step four: negative self-talk and criticism pours to the surface. More and more judgement, yikes!)
The good news? You can skip this whole experience by getting rid of the “should”. Instead of doing what you think you should do, ask yourself: “If I could have any morning experience I want, any way I want it, what would that look like?”
When you answer that question, you naturally build your morning with things that inspire joy. You start making decisions and doing things because it feels good to you, and that’s the golden ticket! If you start every morning feeling joyful, you’ve won! It doesn’t matter what you are or aren’t doing. You’re happy, and now all you need are happy afternoons and happy evenings for a happy life (and your joyful morning is setting you up to have exactly that!)
Yes, I can hear you: “But Kevin, I should eat a healthier breakfast.” I understand where you’re coming from, but try saying each of these:
“I should eat a healthier breakfast.”
“If I really wanted to, I could eat a healthier breakfast.”
Which one of those feels better? With the second one, you’re coming from a place of what you want to do, and not carrying the burden of “should.” Remember, it’s all about feeling good. When you feel good you perform better and things feel easy, including creating a new morning routine.
Now, creating your joyful morning can go beyond specific tasks or exercises. Think atmosphere, too. Consider the ways you can shape your surroundings to inspire the way you want to feel. This might mean making a morning playlist, hanging art or affirmations around the home, or diffusing essential oils. Think sights, sounds, smells — even taste and touch. Maybe you want to buy a nice robe to lounge in, or have your favorite fruit washed and ready.
Your activities can be simple, too. For example, I love everything about making a cup of tea in the morning, from the sound of the kettle, to the steam flowing off the the top of the cup, to the feeling of warmth flowing down my throat and chest when I take a sip. From one perspective, it’s just a cup of tea, but for me it’s something I can totally relish in. It inspires joy, and I’m feeling that much better as I show up to the next part of my day.
Get creative. This is your morning, and your morning routine. Make it the way you want, whatever way that is. After that, it’s easy to add in new practices, like meditation, affirmations, journaling, exercise, etc. It’s easier to do when you’re already feeling good!
Originally published at kevinoberhausen.com