One of the things I rely upon most – and equilibrium factor – is routine. In particular, my early morning routine. Athletes begin their training day with a regimen of preparedness for their body and their mind – essential to their training success, necessary for them to avoid injury to their body.
Whether we are running our lives as a sprint, or as a marathon, it is so easy to slip out of that routine. And I realize I have gotten lazy in this component of my day. It is so easy to stay up late, get up late, avoid elements of time/actions which are essential components for that morning routine – and which start an already flawed day when they are left out.
Worst of all is the rabbit-hole of distracting activity, which will waste my concentration and dull the impact of my good practices – and worst timing of all is when I let that rabbit hole mess with my first couple of hours. I realize I cannot stray, cannot begin my day from a dissipated focus and/or reduced energy.
The news must not come first.
The disciplines which have served me well served me best must be whipped back into order – I have to be my own drill-sergeant reminding me to: make the bed, write, exercise/walk, write some more, eat a large hearty breakfast, write some more … and then, only then, allow me the indulgence of routine warm-up exercises of looking at overnight emails, or any other distractions from the primary task(s) of the day. Also, I’ve realized the wisdom/folly factor of working on only one-clear focus of the day. Which is not to say a hundred other little things won’t show up and be dealt with throughout that day – but THAT ONE THING must get done. If nothing else, then THAT ONE THING must get attention, get worked on, advance toward completion of the current tasks for THAT ONE THING.
The challenge does not abate because at the end of the day or early evening – I must choose, clear the deck for THAT ONE THING I’ll focus on tomorrow.
It matters most that I understand my own weakness of resolve that gets me off-course. COVID-19 has been an easy excuse for me, perhaps for everyone, lately – so comfortable to blame it for my lethargy, for my laziness, for my off-track morning routine, thereby negating so much of what I’ve done, built, and struggled with.
The good news is that I don’t need to relearn the steps I’ve taken in the past to know how relevant this morning discipline is – I need to kick myself in the backside, make it happen by making it happen so I can be more ready than anyone could possibly be to challenge THAT ONE THING which I must focus on today.
As I was doing my morning routine yesterday, I began with step 1, step 2, step 3 … etc.
Step 1 is a summary of my daily schedule, tasks and everyday things to do – step 2 is a reading ritual, so before that, I check (with tick marks) whether I’ve done all my first-thing-every-morning things, so I can go back and make the bed, take my vitamins, make coffee … etc. … before step 2.
That done, step 2. This step is to read my morning inspiration. That consists of a handful of papers in a file folder – special reminders of why I am clear on my energy, my passion, and my path bits and pieces of affirmations I’ve saved, and then reading my inspirational writing. This morning I’d revisited a book I love, The Slight Edge, which I find amusing and inspiring whether I read only one page, chapter – or a hundred pages. I’ve discovered recently, no matter what I’m reading, these new thoughts creep into my consciousness: all these self-help and inspiration books were written in a non-pandemic time by someone who never experienced a pandemic before they wrote them, and this produced questions in my mind:
Are ‘things that help’ written pre-pandemic useful now?
Is there a ‘best book to read’ about being inspired during a pandemic?
Should I write one?
Then comes step 3 – writing my daily affirmations. This is a the step when I sometime slip off course, I so easily procrastinate – but it is the most important, and one I should not.
The affirmation process I use is one of writing out my aspiration in a present tense form ‘as if it is true’ even though it might not be – a way of re-programming my mind to believe something I want to be true. NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) fans will get this, but to the uninitiated, this can be tricky. Think of it like loading a new program on your computer, an upgrade with new features, and without the bugs from the past: once installed, only the new program runs.
Writing affirmations is that kind of a process:
Today I wrote out, 25 times:
I have written a self-help book for thriving during a pandemic.
You might observe that I haven’t done that yet. True, but I am going to program, rather ‘re-program’ my mind as I have already – believing I have it in me, partly done, partly completed.
I am the author. I will do this. I can do this.
And in so doing, I will fill a need – for myself, and for others.
I use a three-step process – it launches my day before I’ve had my breakfast and before I read a newspaper. I fall off track from time to time, but this morning ritual always gets me back on track.