In our last lesson, we talked about why the brain creates habits to begin with and what the key factor is in making them last. You must focus on the identity you want to become then allow that to dictate the goals you have. When your outcomes stem from that deeper identity, you're more likely to stay consistent. Nothing is stronger than a misaligned feeling because you're acting incongruent to who you believe you are.
Today, we're going to talk about eight foundational habits that get your energy right every day. By the end of this lesson, you'll know how to start your days aligned and focused and end them with reflection and surrender. When you focus on purpose, it's much easier to stay productive and centered.
Before we jump into the specific habits, I want you to make two commitments to yourself right now:
- Show up in life, every day, whether you feel like it or not. Take action towards that person you want to become.
- Prime yourself for joy, every morning, by investing time in what fills you up. That way you have something to give to those you love and your work.
Let's get started.
Start a Morning Routine
By beginning each day in the embrace of what fills you up, you tell yourself you matter. You're choosing how you intend to exist on this planet. Not living only to react to external demands on your time.
Mark Sisson says, "Developing a morning routine allows you to assert your own authority over the day. You take charge of your own work-life balance by, in effect, paying yourself first. Too many of us do it the other way around and are left with no time and energy to invest by the time we get to ourselves. As a result, too many people end up feeling at the mercy of their work and family demands. Responsibilities overwhelm, and they end up continually stuck. When you lead with your own peace and well-being, however, much more is possible. Something essential changes when you begin directing your day rather than responding to it."
This gives you structure and creates momentum for the rest of the day.
The good news is this doesn't have to be difficult. The idea of a morning routine is to fill your cup so you can better conquer the day. You may be a single parent and work two jobs, so a 15-minute routine could be life-changing. You may have more time in the mornings and find that an hour really makes you feel great. The key is to enough time and space to let yourself feel supported.
So how do you create one? The first thing I tell my readers and clients is to know where on the spectrum your personality tends to fall. This helps you find a starting point, and there are four categories:
Practical: You like routine. Variety freaks you out. You would need a classic, highly structured morning routine.
Action: You need variety. Too much structure and routine means you're bored. Your routine shouldn't be homogenous or similar day to day. Your routine could be a mixture of things. One day you cycle, the next you read a book. Think in broad strokes and mix up what you do.
Social: You love being around people and do better not in isolation. For your routine you would involve others. Whether that's a group fitness class, running with a friend, breakfast with a significant other.
Emotional: Similar to practical, but you're even more introverted and sensitive. Your routine should have a lot of quiet time and introspection.
Most people have a little bit of each, but you'll typically resonate with one the most then have a close second. Pick whichever is most dominant for you, then create a makeshift routine you commit to for the next two weeks. Tweak things as needed until you feel complete peace and clarity. Everything I'm sharing after this are things you could add to your morning routine.
I know I know. I used to hear about it for years before even giving meditation a chance. But when you hear the benefits, it provides maybe you'll give it a chance. When you meditate, here are 5 benefits you get:
Increased gray matter. A study conducted by Yale, Harvard, and Mass General Hospital demonstrated that meditation increases gray matter in parts of the brain.
Gray matter is positively correlated with IQ, processing speed, attentional capacities, and other important brain functions.
I don't think it's a coincidence that geniuses like Einstein and other high-level thinkers attribute frequent walks or creative breaks to revelatory breakthroughs in their work.
They allowed their minds to wander through different brainwave states via meditative activities and arrived back to the present with new insights.
Changing those brainwaves. The brainwave spectrum is divided into five bands (see below), each with an associated state.
During meditation, the brain typically starts off in high-beta (thinking) and gradually moves into alpha (passive), followed by theta (subconscious creativity and inner peace), and eventually delta (healing, regeneration, and pain relief).
The reverse process takes place as the brain moves back into a state of awareness, and the meditator may return to beta with new insights and breakthroughs.
You'll catch more zzzs. One-third of humans have trouble falling and staying asleep. Yes, 33% of us.
And we'd venture to guess this might be an underestimate. But meditation can help with or even reverse sleep issues.
Mental freedom. Anxiety is a cognitive state where we're unable to regulate emotional reactions to perceived threats.
Meditation strengthens the ability to regulate emotions and therefore decreases anxiety's effect in our lives. Meditation can also decrease stress-related depression.
A little goes a long way. As little as 10 minutes of meditation a day is all that's needed to start rewiring the brain.
You can get every benefit we've listed before and also learn how to lessen your attachment to your thoughts and emotions. A skill that's crucial to living in the overstimulated environment we often find ourselves in.
I'll leave you with this cheeky quote from one of my favorite spiritual teachers, Gabby Bernstein:
"If you don't have time to meditate, then you must have plenty of time to feel like crap."
This is where you write 3 pages stream of consciousness every morning or before a creative activity. The ego works hard to protect us from risk. If anything feels new or sits just outside your comfort zone, it'll grab onto "what if" thoughts and run through everything you need to do. By writing everything that comes to mind, unfiltered, you give satisfaction to that egoic part of the brain and allow the soul, your truest self, to get front and center.
I do this before writing, so my mind feels clear. You can do this before a creative activity or even to start the day so you feel less stressed. You can write it by hand in a journal or on a website like 750words.com.
There's probably no surprise here. Daily movement allows your body to shake up old energy and realign with the present. In the case of a morning routine, I suggest your movement is gentle. The purpose of a morning routine is to align your fresh energy after waking up to connect with your highest self and to allow inspiration and creative flow to happen. If exercise is too rigorous, it can drain that renewed energy and give you the opposite result.
Some great ways to move is doing gentle yoga stretches first thing when you wake up. Or a walk outside. A gentle, rhythmic movement that gets into theta wave activity which is where most inspiration and creativity happens.
Write 10 Creation Goals Every Day
This is something inspired from Rachel Hollis. Every morning, write ten things that you've accepted as true that hasn't manifested itself yet. Let's say you want to speak more eloquently so you could write something like "I speak with clarity and compassion." And you keep writing that every day until it becomes true. Or say you want to increase your income, "I make at least 5 thousand a month working with clients I enjoy working with." Then writing that every day until it's true.
The last habits for better energy involve what you do the night before.
Write Down Three Things You Want to Accomplish the next Day
This is a great way to end your workday and tell your future self what's most important to pick up on while you're still in the mindset of the work you did today. This also provides a sense of relief and security because you'll feel like you can completely release the day.
Turn Off All Electronics an Hour before Bed and Leave Your Phone outside of the Bedroom
"Vivian Giang suggests that you declare your bedroom a 'device-free zone' and leave all tablets, smartphones, and other computer-related devices elsewhere."
Objective Daily Reflection
Objective daily reflection keeps you accountable for the results you're creating. Being honest about the actions you take day in and day out (without judgment or woe-is-me emotional drama) allows you to clearly discern whether or not you're truly moving the needle forward.
Our favorite way to objectively reflect is with the High-Performance Habits Journal, which allows you to mark your progress, using a likert scale, in six different categories:
On a scale of 1-5, how true are these statements?
Clarity: I knew my "why" and lived intentionally today.
Productivity: I worked on things that mattered the most today.
Energy: I managed my mental and physical energy well.
Influence: I guided or treated others well today.
Necessity: I felt it was necessary to be my best and made success a "must."
Courage: I shared my real self, thoughts, and feelings today.
At the end of each day, rate each category from 1 to 5. This straightforward, objective way of measuring progress takes the guesswork and emotional drama out of the equation.
A professional using objective daily reflection is like a pilot using a navigation device to fly a plane. The pilot must be aware of the entire trajectory of the flight path so she can course correct as needed to make it to the intended destination.
Otherwise, the plane could end up in a whole other country.
I hope you found useful ideas from this lesson and already picked out which habits you want to start working on. These make up the foundation of a mindful life, and in the next lesson, we'll talk about the habits that build on top of those for aligned and purposeful action. See you soon!