I’ve been on a hunt for “personal productivity” for a big chunk of my life, looking for magical recipes against chronic procrastination and trying to waste as little time a day as possible. To be very frank, at times it would involve much more reading and thinking about HOW to reach this mystical productivity, rather than actually doing anything productive. This search for ways to manage as much a possible in a day without cutting on sleep and family time has led me to a topic of morning rituals. You don’t need to read lots of books about “secrets of success” to know that the first things you do in the morning are supposed to determine the rest of your day, how much you are going to achieve before the sunset and most importantly how you will feel about it. Famous people are being constantly bugged with a question “What is your morning routine” by other success-hungry souls, who hope to follow a clear roadmap to achieve what they want.
So was I. It’s human nature to start copying others when you have no idea what to do yourself — and as many successful copycats show it is not always a wrong strategy. A list of the most common morning rituals can be easily found and it barely exceeds one page in length. One after another I tried to follow them, fiercely pushing myself to the one and the only “right” thing to do first in the morning. But something went terribly wrong:
I wasn’t managing to follow the chosen rituals and it would put me off even more for the rest of the day. In desperation, I started digging for types of routines famous people used to follow in the mornings, trying to find information beyond entrepreneurial blogs and motivational literature. To my surprise, the routines of many great people from previous centuries were far from what a modern internet crowd would consider viable:
“Mozart spent one hour on dressing only, Tschaikowski started his day with going through correspondence, Balzac napped in the morning (because he worked throughout nights and afternoons) and Fitzerald’s mornings were mostly spent on fighting hangover. No, my point is not that it is the right thing to start your day with a cigarette and a hungover. My point is different — there is no universal recipe.”
Trying to do what others were doing I couldn’t see that I already had foundation for my morning rituals in my existing habits. Instead of completely breaking them, I just had to build on what already was there. Moreover, I had to build new habits slowly, making baby steps.
There are a few widely accepted ways to change your habits, regardless of the end goal:
But there is one methodology (or call it a golden rule) which you will not find in any of the books. It seems so simple and obvious, but it is the main rule that we tend to forget about.
You have to start your day with something that makes you feel happy. Very happy.
The main secret I discovered for the right start of the day and an easy morning rise — is to have something to be looking forward to. Remember that feeling, when you are a kid and you have your birthday the next day, and you really want to fall asleep as soon as possible, so that you can wake up as soon as possible and enjoy everything the day has for you to its fullest? Surely, not every day is a birthday. But it is in our power to start our days with something we enjoy and really look forward too — and it can be extremely simple. Now, my day starts with a great cup of coffee in a company of my husband and an hour-long yoga routine, which started as a 10 minute stretching session just a year ago. Most likely, you do have some great morning rituals already, too.
If you are interested in reading more about morning rituals, habits and ways to change them, here is a short reading list for you:
– Dan Ariely, “Predictably Irrational”
– Charles Duhigg, “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business”
– Matthew Kelly, “The Rhythm of Life”
– Mason Currey, “Daily Rituals: How Artists Work”
– Barrie Devenport, “Sticky Habits: 6 Simple Steps To Create Good Habits That Stick”
– Stephen Guise, “Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results”
– Lawrence Epstein, “The Harvard Medical School Guide to a Good Night’s Sleep (Harvard Medical School Guides)”
Originally published at www.happilyglobalized.com.
Originally published at medium.com