I have completed exactly 5 working days in January and they have already felt like a roller coaster ride. Day one, I came back into the office after the Christmas break be greeted by a less than friendly 580 emails, as well as team absence and a number of other challenges.
I did not feel prepared for this on Monday 7th January. My primitive brain went into overdrive. Happy 2019!
I felt like life could get out of hand pretty quickly for January if something didn’t change. I was hanging out in my amygdala, so of course it felt like this, however I decided I needed to take control back over my time, not to give more to work, but to give more to me. Doing this would actually benefit everybody.
I give plenty of time to work as it is and currently, it’s hungry for more. Taking a moment to reflect, I know from past experience that giving more time, energy and hours is not the way of solving the problems that my team face, but that actually doing this will likely further mask issues within the team and ultimately burn me out. There had to be an alternative.
I’ve got into the practice now of thinking about what the opposite looks like. For example, if something is hard to do, I ask myself ‘what would it look like if it were easy?’. In this instance, work is busy and making me feel bad, I asked myself what should I be doing to make myself feel good?
The answer to this is easy, I could be doing more of the things that I know are good for me. I know that when I am on form, in a good mood and enjoying life; things tend to feel easy and solutions just appear. When I’m desperately holding on to things for dear life as I try to control everything, things do not go my way. I know it’s a matter of perspective, but when hanging out in my primitive mind, it just doesn’t immediately seem this obvious.
On recognising my stressed state (it’s a pattern, so I’m now used to spotting it), I can do what I know to ‘change the channel’ to something different. To engage in positive thought, positive action or positive interaction. As we know, it can make a BIG difference.
On stepping outside of my thoughts, I could see that I needed the time in my day to do the things that put me in the best place, physically and mentally during my day. Doing this would help crowd out the things that put me in a negative place and therefore detract from my day.
This realisation provided me with another challenge. When would I find the time to do these things? I have a family, a home and other commitments, How could I fit more in?
My week days often look like this: I have a 6 year old son who wakes when my wife and I wake. typically just before 7am. This means I’m not only getting myself ready in the morning, but ensuring that he’s ready for school, fed, watered, dressed, teeth brushed etc. Then school drop off happens and then I drive to begin my day at work.
Then the same happens at the end of the day, but in reverse. Therefore, my time to do the things that I would like are limited to a window from approximately 8pm to bed time. Bedtime could be anything from 10:30 through to midnight. During this time, there could be tv/movie time with my wife, cleaning, prep for the next day or even some writing time.
For a long time it has felt like the cards were not stacked in my favour to be able to do even more of the things I want and that I know are good for me. In many ways, I have reduced the time I make available for purely for me, to spend time with my wide and child.
Enter the Miracle Morning.
Conveniently and potentially coincidently, during the weekend that preceded my return to work, I had come across the Miracle Morning routine and book by Hal Elrod. When looking over the Miracle morning just 2 days earlier, the very idea of getting up early filled me with dread.
Something must have stuck though as I have since revisited the idea and read though the website. The difference a day makes can be huge. I felt inspired as it would potentially give me the solution to my time based problem.
I have not ever been a ‘morning person’ and I have never identified with being an early bird. I was always a night owl and liked my lie-ins when I could get them. These days, a ‘lie-in’ might be sleeping all the way through to 8am at a weekend if I’m lucky. I’ll take it though.
Now though, given the frantic nature of the 7th January, I could see that there was a huge pay off to getting up early. Not to be able to do more hours at work or to worry about work more, but to set myself up to do the things that would make me feel great. To schedule time for me and to put the important big rocks in my diary and do these first each day. The equivalent of paying myself first with the time I create each morning.
Getting up at 5:45am or even 6:00am would give me an hour or more to do whatever I wanted. Just for me and nobody else. Guilt free personal time, created by looking at my time in a different way.
Previously the thought of getting up early seemed like I was loosing sleep time. I felt robbed. Now instead, looking at it as time back for me, it allows a certain amount of excitement to come with it.
When you’re excited to do something for yourself, you are also excited to jump out of bed!
This is not the morning start I was used to. Normally I would wallow in bed until the last moment trying to hang on to each precious warm bed second on the off chance I felt more revived by it.
Cutting a long story short, I’ve now begun a month long trial of starting my day earlier. It means being in bed by 10:30 to get a full 7+ hours sleep, but it feels like the trade off is really being in bed just 30 mins earlier that I was used to and getting at least a whole hour extra in return.
So what am I doing with my time at the beginning of the day?
First, I wake get out of bed and then meditate. Doing this first thing in the morning is a lovely way engage with the day on my own terms.
After this, I think about my intentions for the day and the type of day I am going to have. I’ve started visualising a positive day and the positive changes I want to bring into my life. I’ve included a few affirmations as positive thought really primes me for my day.
To further help with this I journal on what’s important to me and the things I am grateful for. I also jot down what important actions I need to take to get my life going in the direction I want.
The other win for me is that I have also been able to fit in some exercise. I haven’t done anything for weeks. Exercise is a keystone activity for me. It brings about other positive behaviours, habits and activities into my life just by ensuring that I use my body. The more I exercise, the more I feel more energised, awake and honestly, the greater I feel too. This also sets off a chain reaction of making better choices when it comes to food, mood, focus and the ability to face life’s challenges calmly and objectively.
It’s only been a few days, but I have completed all the activities I set out to achieve each day and all before 8am. I feel great for this.
Tomorrow, I am even getting up early at the weekend to mediate and get a bike ride in before my day begins. I’m really excited about it!
Who knew?! It turns out I am a morning person after all. I just needed to decide to be.