I have made a random decision last month to live healthier. Yes, that’s right. I just woke up and told myself: “Virna, it’s high time for you to start living healthy”. Now, what I wanted was a complete overhaul of my current lifestyle. What’s wrong with my current lifestyle? I’ll tell you more about that later. Naturally, I didn’t know where to start. A lot of articles online pointed me to diets, exercises, among many other things, but I know that I need something different. I need something simple that I can commit to. I know myself, I’m only good at starting things, and sustaining stuff is a big issue for me. I also want something that, though small, can still have a big effect on my life; something that would surely motivate me further into my “healthy living” goal. And so, after a few days of pondering, it dawned on me. The perfect way to start something, is to start from the very beginning. I realized that to live healthier, I must first start it on a healthy and positive note as well. And thus begins my journey in finding the perfect morning routine.
A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO LESS HECTIC AND MORE SOULFUL MORNINGS
Now I’m not saying that there’s only one morning routine that anyone can follow, because there’s none. What works for me might not work for you. But reading this post might help you towards the right direction of coming up with the routine that fits you perfectly. Let’s go!
MY CURRENT MORNING ROUTINE
STEP ONE: Find Your Drive
The first thing that you need to do if you want to start a morning routine (or whatever habit it is that you want to start in life) is to find your drive. Know what keeps you moving. Why do you need a morning routine? What’s your goal? Is it to be more productive? Is it to have more soulful mornings like me? Write down the reasons why you want to wake up earlier on a small piece of paper and keep it handy. We’ll need that later on.
Here’s mine: I want to have more soulful mornings.
STEP TWO: Determine Your Specific Needs
After finding out what you want, next you need to determine what you need, and what your current situation permits you. Are you a mother? Or a college student? Do you have a really early class? Take note of the things that you ABSOLUTELY NEED to do in the morning – these are your essentials. List them down, prioritize, then start pruning.
- Feed Baby Agie.
- Wake-up Justin.
- Prepare for work.
- Help Justin prepare our things.
- Maybe a quick breakfast if we’re still early.
- WE MUST LEAVE HOME BY 6:30
We are new and fairly young working parents, and our baby spends the night with us. This is the only time that we get to bond with him during the week, (not to mention that he’s usually asleep already whenever we get home), so I want to squeeze a few minutes each morning to extend our maternal bonding. Baby Agie’s now in the stage where he can sleep all night but he gets awfully hungry in the morning. So I want to feed him before I hand him over to my parents. This is an absolute priority I can never remove from my list.
Next is taking a quick shower. I can also shower at night (and before starting my morning routine, most of the time, I did), but I have recently discovered the rejuvenating effect of a cold morning shower. After showering, I wake-up Justin and he’ll be the one doing his morning things, while I prep for work. I take a bit of time prepping so I usually finish around the same time Justin does, during which he’ll take over and prep our things (whenever I do it, we always tend to forget something, either our keys or our IDs, haha). Finally we kiss the baby, and head for work.
I’m thinking of pruning down my list and take all the preparations at night. But that’s probably the only thing that I can change. If you want to start with something even more simple then you can do this: choose three priorities + three things that are in line with your goal.
STEP THREE: Work Backwards and Strategize
After listing my priorities down, as I have stated above, I next list down the three things I want to add to my mornings in line with my goal which is to be more soulful. These are: a cold shower, meditation, and a few minutes to journal. This will determine the time frame that I need to allocate for my new morning routine. Chrissy over at Organise My House had presented a useful technique to do just that: WORKING BACKWARDS.
So according to her article, you need to determine the exact time that you want to leave the house, then how long each activity takes. From this list, you will easily determine what time you should wake up. I already have mine, I want to leave the house at 6:30 a.m. So now my list looks like this:
- 4:30 – Wake – up
- 4:30 – 4:45 Meditation
- 4:45 – 5:00 – Shower
- 5:00 – 5:30 Journal / Read
- 5:30 – Wake-up Justin
- 5:30 – 6:00 – Prep for work
- 6:00 – 6:30 – Breakfast
- 6:30 – Leave for work
STEP FOUR: Start Small
Next step is to be realistic. I mean come on, if you used to wake up at let’s say, 6:30 – can you really wake yourself up two hours earlier? Don’t force yourself to do something drastic. Look at the list that you’ve just made and locate the one that happens 15 minutes before you usually wake-up.
For me, I used to wake-up at 5:30, and on some days at 6:00 a.m.That will only mean that on my list, the item that I’ve listed immediately before my wake-up time would be to journal or read. But my priority is to meditate, so I incorporate that first. I have now decided to wake-up 15 minutes earlier to make time for meditation. Doesn’t seem to hard isn’t it? Then after a week, take the next item on the list, and wake-up another 15 minutes earlier, and so on. I also have what I call “Sleep-through Weekends”. These are the days that I specifically intend to oversleep. This is just a small treat to myself though. I found that looking forward to weekends where I don’t need to wake up that early helped me go through the week much easier. Take note though, that there are researches that claim that sleeping in on weekends is bad for the health, and I know that someday I might have to include weekends in my morning routine too – but for now, I am just being realistic that these weekends make my routine easier to cope up with while it’s still fairly new.
STEP FIVE: Time For The Test Drive
Now the fun part starts! Get a small piece of paper and tape it somewhere you’ll easily see the moment you wake-up. Set your alarm as it is and go for a test drive. Try out your new routine. Don’t worry, the first morning is usually the easiest to wake up to because you’re still burning with motivation.
After that, take some time to analyze how your first morning went. How did it feel? Do you think you need to make some adjustments? If there are some things that you would want to tweak, do so now. Any routine is much more enjoyable when you sustain it for a certain period of time. It’s not advisable to change a “routine” every other day or every week, or else it would not be a routine anymore, right?
STEP SIX: Acknowledge That It’s A Habit You Must Commit To
Once you feel comfy that your new routine’s gonna work, then it’s time to commit! Yes, the next step is to acknowledge that developing a habit is something that you need to commit to. They say that it takes 21 days to develop a habit – but I think it’s for as long as you want to commit to it. Let’s say you finish the 21 days, but in the 41st day something totally unexpected came up which made you skip your habit – the next thing you know, you’re back to your same old self. Believe me, it is THAT easy to fall back so even after the 21 days, you still have to stay focused.
Don’t worry, there are a couple of things that you can do to make it easier.
- Turn your room into the right environment. Is watching TV the reason why you sleep late? Then this is probably the best time to kick your TV out of the room. How about surfing the net? You can schedule a couple of notifications to remind you for that. Put the alarm clock somewhere far from your bed that you’ll be forced to get up just to shut it down. Whatever works!
- Tell people! Make it public. Post it on your blog. Tell your family or your roommates that you’ll start waking up earlier from now on. In that way, (for me at least), you don’t just feel guilty towards yourself during those lazy unbearable days. Also, they’ll understand when you pass on those late movie nights and they’ll also probably even remind you from time to time.
STEP SEVEN: Equip Yourself With The Right Tools
If you think there are tools that can help you in your routine then please do so. There are different alarm clock apps, meditation apps, and more that you can download to help you out. You can also print out helpful lists, or other printables (like a habit log) to track how good you’re doing. Don’t spend too much time on this though. Remember, if you want to find the perfect running shoes before you start running, then you’ll never finish that marathon! Other things that you would want to add could be listed as a reward instead (more on this later).
STEP EIGHT: Wake Up Early!
The only thing that’s left to do now is to start! Here are a few tips I’ve compiled from my favorite blogs to help you on your road to becoming a morning person.
Dale of The Daily Positive suggests to give yourself some buffering time the moment you wake up and start the day with something you love.
Leo of Zen Habits suggests to enjoy the break of dawn. Actually, if you read his whole article, you’ll pleasantly notice that he has inspired me a LOT.
Finally, for more soulful mornings, you can read Kara’s take on Hal Elrod’s Miracle Mornings on Boho Berry. It’s a morning routine which can be summarized into S.A.V.E.R.S. or Silence (Meditation), Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading, and Scribe. I haven’t tried it personally, but notice that a few of the elements on my own routine are identical.
STEP NINE: Find Inspiration
There will be days that your new habit will seem too much to bear. These are also the best days to prove yourself if you really are up to the challenge. Don’t give in. This is the time where Step One will come in handy. Remember the bit of paper where you have written your main objective and why you’re going through all of this in the first place? Did you keep it? Good. Now read it.
If it’s not enough, breathe, then search the internet for inspiration – THERE ARE LOTS! As I have already mentioned above, Boho Berry and Zen Habits are good choices. So is Mind, Body, Green. If these are not enough, Pinterest is a trove of inspiration for anything, including healthy habits.
For even more inspiration, you can follow my Happy Mornings Board on Pinterest. It’s a board I keep for more ideas and inspiration. It’s constantly updated too!
STEP TEN: Building On and Rewarding Yourself
Congratulations! You have developed a morning routine that’s perfect for you. After the first month, it is helpful to do a quick assessment on your achievement. You may adjust on the other things that you want to add or remove to your current routine. Also, don’t forget to reward yourself! There are other lights at the end of the rainbow other than a new healthy habit formed. How about buying that new book you saw the other day? Or, just an idea, like me, you can reward yourself with something that will help this current routine, or other things that you would want to make a habit off. As what I’ve shown on my Habit Log, I’ve rewarded myself a cute mug to “launch” my water intake monitoring. Small things that you will constantly use are good because they will serve as reminders of how you succeeded. Moving on, I’ll also give myself a new book and a new blender because I want to seriously focus on having healthy breakfasts at home, even if it’s just a meal replacement smoothie.
How is your journey on your new morning routine going? I would love to hear about it. In any case, stay tuned to my next post where I’ll share with you my own experience. Anyway, as a thank you for reading my post, here are FREE printables: a Morning Routine Chart, and an inspiring quote about mornings by Buddha himself. And before I forget, don’t forget to follow my blog with Bloglovin!
Downloadables: Morning Routine Habit Log (85 downloads) , Free Printable Morning Quote (82 downloads)
Some of the graphics I used on my printables are designed by Freepik.