Many of us have heard the adage, “How you spend your day, is how you spend your life.” I believe it’s even more micro than that. How you spend the first two hours of your day will determine how you live your life and how productive that life will be.
Giving yourself time in the morning to put yourself in an optimal physical and mental state is equivalent to putting your oxygen mask on first. You can’t help others or thrive until your needs are met first. Here are five easy-but-can't-fail steps for the best start to the rest of your life, every day.
1. Choose not to “snooze.” Anytime you snooze, it’s a negative reaction. You’re losing out on your first commitment to yourself and that sets a bad tone for the rest of your day.
Place your alarm on the other side of the room and start your day off with a victory lap by waking-up when you promised yourself you would. While this may seem small, beginning your day with a victory rather than a loss will have a profound impact on the following 16 hours.
2. Read your affirmations. Affirmations are positive, powerful statements you make to put yourself in the right frame of mind. An example of an affirmation to you can use is: “I am reborn today – yesterday does not matter. I am as good as what I learn, what I create, who I influence and what I inspire today.”
Or, you can take an example from then 4-year-old Jessica whose morning affirmations went viral. We have between 45,000 and 51,000 thoughts a day. Choose to have your first thoughts, every morning, put you into the best frame of mind for a rewarding life.
3. Open your mind by opening a book. Reading in the morning is the most important step you can take to keep your mind open, observant and ready to learn.
As an individual, and especially as an entrepreneur, nothing is more important than learning and getting better, so don't wait until nighttime to focus on your most important objective.
Try a book that’s geared to helping you solve a personal or professional challenge. That will acclimate your mind to thinking through problems, which is a powerfully beneficial habit to form. It is especially useful right before you start your day (which will invariably have its share of challenges).
4. Exercise to thrive. It’s simply not true that exercise is the key to weight loss. Instead of relegating exercise to a means (for weight loss), think of it as the destination.
There are three key reasons regular exercise is a smart business strategy.
First, exercise brings oxygen to your brain, even if you exercise for only 20 minutes. Second, research shows that moderate aerobic exercise can improve your mood for up to 12 hours. Third, exercise is another great opportunity to learn. Listen to an enriching podcast or an educational audiotape while you’re working out.
5. Refuel to feel optimal. What you put into your body to start the day is integral to how you’re going to feel the rest of the day. While opting for a bagel or donut on occasion is something we’re all prone to do, you’ll be amazed how you feel when you switch it up for something that has a well-rounded mix of healthy fats, plant-based protein and complex carbohydrates.
Blending together a smoothie only takes about as much time toasting a slice of bread and slathering it with butter. Consider starting your day with a tablespoon of virgin coconut oil (brain booster) and, after your workout, try a smoothie or breakfast bowl. Need a recommendation? My favorite is red quinoa, almonds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds and ground flax seeds in a breakfast bowl.
For a smoothie, add brown rice protein powder, cinnamon, almond milk and fresh blueberries to Magic Bullet, Ninja, Vitamix (or whatever blender you have on hand). Mmmm, for the taste buds and the brain.
Try these strategies, or even just one at a time to begin. Jot down how they make you feel and affect the rest of your day. Implementing these strategies will benefit so much more than just your morning.
I believe self-care is social activism! It’s putting that oxygen mask on, first, so you can effect positive change within your workplace, with your family and throughout your community.