Back in the days when I was single and free, I followed an army-like morning routine.
I woke up at 4:45am, drank a tall glass of lemon water, meditated, prayed and journaled. Took my dog for a walk then grabbed my gym bag (that was prepared the night before) and my lunch bag (that was also prepared the night before) and headed out the door for my morning gym workout and my long day at the office.
And that’s how my day started. Every. Single. Day.
The only variant was on the weekends, when I would allow myself to “sleep in” until 7am.
But why the rigidity…
I followed such a rigid routine because I had read somewhere, in some productivity and success book(s), that the most successful people on earth all followed a very structured morning routine. And I wanted to be very successful. So I implemented the same principles.
I loved my morning routine. I was deeply attached to it.
It gave me a sense of purpose and drive. It set my mood on “go” for the rest of the day and energized my long working hours.
It was never my intention to change my routine. But then, like for many of us, life happened.
When my husband and I were finally able to have a viable pregnancy, I suffered complications and was put on bedrest. My morning routine was out the window.
I felt lost.
The dangers of attaching yourself to a routine
How many times has this happened to you?
You put all your efforts into creating a new routine for yourself. Maybe you want your day to start off with some meditation or go for a silent walk to clear your head for the day.
Everyday, you diligently put all your efforts towards reinforcing your new routine.
And as your routine slowly becomes a part of your life, you begin to attach yourself to this new routine. You look forward to your morning ritual and begin to depend on it to set the mood for the rest of your day.
But then one morning, something happens and you can’t meditate or go for your silent walk. And you feel awkward for the rest of the day.
Then the next morning, something else comes up that again, prevents you from going through with your morning ritual…
You start to blame yourself, you become bitter about your life and your circumstances and soon enough you are simply discouraged and have given up on the whole thing altogether.
Setting a not-so-good tone for the rest of your day.
But what if it was all about the “what” and not the “when”
As I navigated the ups and downs of a difficult first pregnancy, I became animate about finding another way to get that feeling of accomplishment again.
My new “morning routine” would not only need to fit my current situation, but also be adaptable to the upcoming changes in our lives.
What I soon figured out is that it wasn’t as much about the “when”, then it was about the “what”, in my morning routine that gave me that feeling of accomplishment and a positive outlook.
So I looked at the components of my former morning ritual: water, meditating, praying, journaling, walking the dog and working out.
In summary, my morning routine was about taking care of my mind, first and foremost, and then taking care of my body.
My new “not so morning” routine
By the time our first son was born, I had implemented my new not-so-morning routine.
It wasn’t so much about the rigidity and the “get it all done” mentality. It was about including all the former components of my routine that made me feel good, at some point during my morning.
My new routine looked something like this: I would meditate and pray while feeding my son in the early morning hours. Then I would journal for a few minutes after I put him back to sleep (and going back to sleep myself!)
Walking our dog became a family walk with baby in the stroller and our dog happily strutting along sometime close to the first morning nap.
My workouts were done as a high intensity circuit format during our son’s second morning nap.
By the time noon rolled around, my entire morning ritual had been completed, spread across the morning hours, sometime between 4 am and noon.
I didn’t feel stressed about getting it all done at the same time. I allowed myself the freedom to modify the routine as my day went along, making sure to keep the essence of it.
This new way of doing gave me the sense of accomplishment I needed.
How to set up your own “not so morning” routine
You may not be dealing with similar issues of forced bed rest and a newborn, but you may be dealing with circumstances that momentarily, or permanently, are preventing you from keeping up your beloved morning ritual.
If that is the case, follow these steps to establish another routine that will bring you the same sense of accomplishment, without any of the guilt of getting off track.
1.Deconstruct your previous routine: breakdown each element that composed your morning routine. From having coffee, to heading out to the gym, to spending time cuddling your pet. Whatever time was spent doing an activity in your former routine, is an element in its own.
2. Group items together: Once your routine is decomposed, only put back together in blocks, the items you feel need to be done in a consecutive sequence. For me, meditation and prayer go together, so I needed to combine those. For you, maybe it’s drinking your first cup of coffee and heading out for a run.
3. Make time, at some point in your morning, for each block of your routine: say your former routine included prayer, journaling, drinking a hot cup of coffee, heading out for a run and getting ready for work. But now, for whatever reason, that routine is not sustainable. Break it down, starting by what can only be done within the first few hours of the morning. If you know that you can only go for a run in the early morning, then start off your day with that. Get that hot cup of coffee and that morning run in, first thing in the morning, before getting ready for work. Then plan your prayer and journaling at another time in your morning. Schedule it in your agenda as you would any other important meeting. Maybe it can take the place of your morning break or it can be something you practice during your morning commute.(If you need more ideas on how to break down those practices, check out The Ignition Toolbox HERE)
By spreading your morning routine across your entire morning, you won’t feel the unnecessary pressure of getting everything done within a very limited timespan, yet you will get the same feeling of accomplishment.
If you come to the realization that not everything you want to do will get done during your morning, know that is it ok to let go of certain things, momentarily. Be adaptive and be kind to yourself.
Remember, the goal of morning rituals is to set a positive and uplifting tone for the rest of your day. If the pressure of your routine is creating negative energy and undue stress, it’s time to revisit your routine.
I hope you enjoyed my take on morning routines.
As always, I love hearing from you. After reading this post, leave me a comment below or send me an email and let me know how you’ve adapted your morning routine to fit your changing reality.