For the first 15 years of my corporate career, my ‘morning practice’ consisted of working out what the smallest amount of time could be between when I had to get out of bed and when I needed to leave home to commute to work.
I got it down to about 20 minutes. Just enough time to shower, dress and leave the house. And I still had to run for the train. Some mornings I’d bargain with myself for a few extra minutes’ sleep and would miss the train. I’d then need to come up with some excuse for why I was late for work!
Start a morning practice with meditation
As I started my journey into personal development, I initially got interested in meditation. The Headspace app had just launched and seemed like a great introduction, without being too weird or hippy.
I started using it and really liked it. It felt like it was doing some good, although I had no idea what I was doing. Sitting on my morning commuter train with my headphones on and my eyes shut, I looked just like everyone else. But rather than desperately trying to catch up on some sleep, I was starting the day with a small slice of calm and quiet before the craziness of work.
Once I escaped from my corporate life, I started learning more about the different practices that people use to start them off on the right foot each day. And over the past couple of years, I’ve played about with all sorts of methods. Journalling, Morning Pages, gratitude notes, affirmations, visualisations, Emotional Freedom Technique, colouring books, reading, yoga. You name it, I’ve tried it!
Play with journaling to see what works
In the same way that I wasn’t sure if I was doing it ‘right’ when I first began meditating, when I started keeping a journal, I felt like I didn’t have a clue what I was meant to write. It wasn’t like the diary I’d kept as a teenager (mainly about who I fancied!), but I wasn’t sure what it was meant to be. A brain dump? A list of wishes and desires? Hopes and dreams? To do lists? Things I’m grateful for? Written visualisations of what I want to achieve? Who knew!
Over the last few years, I’ve tried all of these and it’s still evolving. But one of the things that really helped me find my groove was to start a beautiful new journal by writing a list of intentions for the how I would use it, along with a list of affirmations and goals for my life.
This helped in two important ways. Firstly, the intentions gave me permission to only write when I felt moved to do so and for it to be different each time. As a perfectionist, I started off wanting to journal daily and would berate myself if I didn’t manage it. Now I know that it’s ok for me to miss days or weeks at a time, and I can pick it up again when the time is right. Suddenly it all became easier and more spontaneous.
Second, if I’m not feeling inspired but want to write something to kickstart my day, the affirmations and goals always give me something to focus on. I can just choose one that feels important in that moment and then riff on what it means to me and how I see it unfolding in my life.
Pick and choose the best bits to create a routine
As for all the other practices, these tend to come and go. This depends on whether I’m wanting structure and routine to start the day (as taught in The Miracle Morning). Or whether I’m leaning more towards freedom and inspiration; allowing myself to just do what takes my fancy each day.
Either way, the biggest breakthrough for me in terms of creating a daily habit was the realisation that all of these things are just different ways of setting me up for the day and helping me focus on what I want to achieve in the hours, months and years ahead.
In many ways, it doesn’t matter whether I choose to read, write, move, meditate, visualise, affirm, tap, thank or do all of these. The important thing is that I am learning and developing, and positively creating the life I want.
I’d love to hear whether you’ve started a morning routine, and which parts you find easy or hard. What’s your favourite technique? And how do you fit it into your hectic life? Do leave a comment below and let me know what works for you.