May 12, 2013

How We Start Our Days is Often How We Live Our Lives.

Photo: seegarysphotos

“Except when you don’t. Because, sometimes, you won’t.

 I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.”
 ~ Dr. Seuss.

In a piece I wrote recently on expanding capacity, I illuminate how much can happen early morning in the lives of busy, efficient and productive achievers.

While it often looks like that for me, sometimes a morning can look like this: The kids stayed up too late and don’t want to get out of bed; the cat has thrown up, but before I can get there the dog cleans it up; the printer just ran out of ink and it’s raining so hard the carpet in the basement is spongy.

Onward the day goes with these fits and starts. At some point I realize my breasts are aching because they’re still stuffed into my sports bra for that morning run that I never made it out the door for.

When there are mornings or moments or days like these, it’s easy to fall into self-imposed suffering mode, where we beat ourselves up for not meeting our own personal expectations. Ugh.

The key, of course, is to just get back on the horse, or the bicycle, or the path, when it’s the thing you least feel like doing. And that is easier said than done.

“And when you’re in a slump, you’re not in for much fun.
 Un-slumping yourself
 is not easily done.” ~ Dr. Seuss

I find it’s helpful to remind myself that as much as we don’t like it, these days are inevitable. They provide color, perspective and opportunity. The bonus in truly understanding this is that it allows us to cut ourselves some much needed slack—which in turn helps us more easily get back on track.

In those moments of suffering, the question to ask ourselves is not are we ever going to get back on track again, but how quickly can we do so. The shorter the time in between falling off and getting back on again makes all the difference.

And if it is true that how we start our days is often how we live our lives, ask yourself how you want to live your life. Was today just a setback or do you regularly hit the snooze button until the very last minute and spend the rest of the day chasing yourself to catch up? Or, do you get up every day with enough spaciousness for some time for you?

This spaciousness seems to directly influence the mindset with which you greet the day. Are you grumbling as you head out the door? Or, can you convince yourself that the small setbacks of the morning are just that, and that you can and will slay the dragons today—despite the fact that there’s some unexpected traffic on the road or that your kid forgot to bring their lunch to school?

How do you set the tone for your day?

The bulk of the most successful people I know are up before the crack of dawn. They are grabbing the day by the horns by consciously choosing to start maximizing their time while the rest of the world is still sleeping.

They don’t save the waking early for just the weekdays either. Waking early on the weekends can be extra delicious, and it helps to keep you consistent when Monday morning rolls around.

There are people for whom this kind of schedule will never work, but for those that resonate with it, it’s important to begin setting the tone for your morning and maximizing your day by adjusting the night time routine to get enough sleep.

With that early morning start, you can create the time to hit the gym or do your morning yoga video, meditate, journal, visualize, affirm, review your to do list—and your don’t do list—write a few pages of your novel and/or eat a really healthy breakfast.

If you wait until the end of the day to do these things—which are so important, yet not quite urgent—they probably won’t happen.

Even if you’re not a morning person, you can create a waking routine that includes a spacious start to your day. But, it’s not a shift that happens overnight.

When I find myself in the pattern of chasing after myself instead of leading the way, I begin by setting my alarm clock 15 minutes earlier. Even just those 15 minutes can make an enormous change. It’s enough time to stretch gently, read for a few minutes, write some morning pages, meditate or give gratitude for what is. It’s amazing how even just those few minutes can change the outlook and outcome for an entire day—and maybe longer.

If you’re feeling hung up, try it and see what kind of magic ensues!

“So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act.”

~ Dr. Seuss



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Assistant Ed: Thandiwe Ogbonna/Ed: Kate Bartolotta

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