"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
I don't eat breakfast. Don't come at me with eggs before 10 AM. And let's be for real. No one wants a pile of almonds washed down with warm lemon water to kick-start their morning digestion. In fact, can we just flush ALL that lemon water down the drain? No one really wants lukewarm lemon water to start their day. And a run? I'm out. It doesn't matter that Arizona is mostly 70-degree mornings and sunshine. If it's hoof to pavement, I'm probably going to resent it.
And resent might be putting it mildly.
In fact, these are things that used to cause me anxiety late at night. I am not an anxious person, but trying to fudge myself into a morning routine that wasn't for me sure did help me watch the clock from 1:00-3:00 a.m. As it turns out, I'm not really about that life. So, after investigating tens of posts about how to start your day with success, I decided that, for me, they were mostly . . . ahem, untrue.
So, I started a mission. I was going to find a morning routine that worked for me. Here is what I (very unscientifically) found.
Eliminate What Doesn't Work for You
If you aren't a breakfast person, stop trying to put yourself into that box. Not an early riser? Stop getting up at 4am to make it to the gym. This doesn't mean you are off the hook or no longer responsible for your health, but it does give you permission to be yourself. Some of us are naturally nocturnal and others like to rise with the sun. Sister, that's okay. The first step to creating a morning routine that works for you is to, get this, make sure it works for you!
So, what does this look like? I recommend journaling a little bit about how you feel morning, noon and night. Get in touch with how you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally during various hours of the day. When is your energy the highest? When are you most likely to feel worn down or annoyed? When do you need a reboot? When does your body give way to sleep?
In real life (like, very real life) I feel the worst physically before 8 a.m. My body simply does not want to function prior to the sun being fully awake. My stomach often hurts and my cozy bed pretty much trumps any other activity on earth. I fantasize about leaping out of bed and sweating it out at the gym, energized and ready to kick the day in the rear. In reality, however, I begrudgingly slap the alarm on my phone and read scripture until I am at peace enough to get up. It's what works for me, so it's what I do. And guess what? The first thing I drink each morning? It's a coffee. And my doctor doesn't know the difference!
Disclaimer: I am not saying that all of these habits are good. I am just simply saying that not all of us were meant to be morning people. I assure you, I care for my health in a lot of ways throughout the day, as we will explore below. They just don't all happen prior to 6:00 a.m.
The first step to creating a morning routine that works for you is to make sure it works for you!
Create Consistency, Not Constancy
Now, it's time to get real with yourself. Your morning routine should be something that works for you most days, most of the time. There are going to be days when things just don't quite go as planned. That's the life of a leader. It's the life of a mother, sister, wife or friend. It's the life of an employee. Guys, it's the life of a human being. A perfect routine isn't the goal. It's finding a way to create consistency and routine, not constancy or perfection.
Before you read any further, accept right now that your morning routine will not be perfect. But you can create something that works for you, where you are, at this phase in your life.
And your morning routine can change with life's phases. Consistency. Not constancy.
Here is what consistency looks like for me, a thirty-something school leader with a husband but no kids. Here is what I can commit to, most days, most of the time.
That's it. I can't commit to 20 minutes of writing. I just feel guilty when I don't meet my goal. I can't get up and go to the gym, or I can't sleep the night before. Writing comes more natural to me after I've had a day. It's my release, and the day's events have likely given me inspiration for what I need to say. The gym is better when I can catch my favorite yoga class or hop on the treadmill without watching the clock. It's what works for me. So that's what I do.
Your morning routine should be something that works for you most days, most of the time.
Pregame for Success the Night Before
I never met a party that didn't like a little pre-event hype, and I never met a morning routine that didn't take a little prep work. When the routine begins in the morning, that means the prep work begins the night before. And it just so happens that's when I'm in my prime. Reader beware.
Fussing over clothes in the morning? That's not for me. No one needs the frustration of not feeling put together at 6:00 a.m. because nothing looks quite right through your blurry eyes. Packing lunch in a rush? That's one way to make certain I spend at least $10 eating out. Here are the steps I take to pregame for the day ahead the night before my morning. (And yes, calling it a pre-game for the day ahead does a sort of wonder for the average psyche at the end of a chaotic, often exhausting day.)
Some nights, I work out. If I'm too tired, I don't. Some nights, I attend a function at school, or have dinner with a friend. If I've already had a few night obligations that week, however, I decline. And, get this. Sometimes I decline an invitation to something I would like to do. That's right, folks. If I have learned anything about my routine, it's that I need it. I have worked diligently to create space in my day that is life-giving and allows for a reset. It's what makes me available to everyone and everything that needs my attention during the day. So I hold firm to that which I know makes me a little more me. More God, less Jess. More time, less stress.
Linger a Little Longer: