by Lori Milner: author, entrepreneur, thought leader and founder of Beyond the Dress
There is magic in a morning routine. If you can train yourself to wake up even 30 minutes earlier, you open up a quiet space for yourself when the family are asleep. We find ourselves saying, ‘I don’t have time to think’. This time doesn’t open up for us out of nowhere (unless a meeting suddenly cancels) so we have to carve out a dedicated time in our calendar for the things we want to take ownership of and that truly matters to us. For me, mornings are the best place to do this. Exercise is part of my world and has been for over 25 years. The only time I can get this done is 5:30 before I take my kids to school.
Some of you are thinking – that’s crazy, I could never wake up that time. Well, if you are binge watching Netflix until 11pm every night than its definitely going to feel daunting. So it’s taking a look at the patterns and habits we don’t even pay attention to and ask ourselves – is this serving me? If I want to be the kind of person who gets up early, than what needs to shift? Maybe it’s not having 2 glasses of wine after work or going to bed too late. When you can take control of your mornings, you have started the day your way and not reacting to life’s demands of us.
So how can you take ownership of your morning? Set yourself up for success one micro win at a time. A micro win is when you take your goal and break it down into its smallest components. Every time you achieve a step forward, that’s a micro win. Writing one sentence is a micro win towards your book. Each time you do a 5 minutes of mindful breathing, that’s a micro win to becoming more present and mindful.
Schedule yourself into your calendar – when you check your calendar on a Sunday night – you need to make sure there is a slot every day dedicated to yourself. Even if that slot is 15 minutes – you need to make sure you are appearing in your calendar. And if you’re not, no wonder you feel like you have no balance in your life. Just having something dedicated to yourself gives you the ability to take on everything else – the school, play dates, extra murals, work demands, partners, the daily ‘stuff’ we need to get done.
Prepare. Prepare. Prepare – the night before, I have my gym clothes out ready for me so I don’t have to search for socks in the dark. My kitchen is like a military station – my coffee, shake ingredients and water bottle is waiting for me. When I walk in, I go on autopilot and just stick to the routine. My mind has taken over and I just get on with it. I make it as effortless as possible for myself to avoid having to make any decisions of what needs to get done.
Show up and take action – it is not enough to schedule yourself into your calendar. The true power of creating micro wins starts by showing up for yourself. We know this movie – you set your alarm for 6am with every great intention of waking up to walk, meditate journal, read, fill in the blank – you reach for your phone, this is it – and you hit snooze and wake up at 7am in a panic. You can plan all you want but if you don’t get up at that 6am – you spend the rest of your day in self-loathing mode. This ‘one time’ sets us into a downward spiral for the day. We are really disappointed we missed that session and so we start to procrastinate on our tasks, we toss the entire day and figure we may as well have that donut because we’ll start tomorrow. Now we are so annoyed with ourselves for the donut, we start the self-judgement and guess who arrives – uninvited – the inner critic. Now she really knows how to kick us when we’re down. So how do we avoid this…keep reading...
When you alarm goes off – get up. Don’t think, don’t hit snooze, just get up. Yes, your mind will tell you it’s cold, you are tired and you deserve to lie in ‘just today’. Ignore it. You are smarter than your mind, be prepared for it. It’s doing its job to protect you. That’s what we are wired for – but if you know it’s coming, be prepared. Make a specific decision on what you are going to do when the alarm goes off and do it. The hardest part of the morning is getting up – and that’s the first micro win of the day. You’ve won the battle against your mind and you’re taking charge of your day because it is in your best interest. Getting up despite the ‘tired’ is evidence you are worth it.
Don’t wait to feel like it – once you accept this, it will literally change your world. We are never going to feel like the thing we should be doing. We are very good at convincing ourselves ‘It’s not the right time, I’m not feeling inspired and creative, and I never had a good sleep’. The only time you will feel like doing the thing you need to do – is guess what – when you’re doing it. I’m just as guilty and over the years have learnt, there is never a ‘perfect’ time to write, no such thing as a ‘perfect’ mood, and ‘perfect’ location – just sit down and do it. You will get rewarded with all the happy hormones – dopamine, endorphins and of course that sense of personal pride in the achievement of the micro win. Every micro win is evidence that you are the kind of person who shows up to yourself.
Don’t check your phone – if you use your phone as an alarm than just switch it off and that’s it! Don’t think ‘oh, I’ll just check what messages came in, emails, social channels, etc.’ When you start your day checking in, you are reacting. You are at the mercy of other people’s demands and agenda’s and you forget all about the task you planned. So get the task at hand done and then when you have achieved your win, go ahead and check in.
LORI MILNER is the engaging facilitator, thought leader and mentor known for her insightful approach to being a modern corporate woman. Her brainchild, the successful initiative Beyond the Dress, is the embodiment of her passion to empower women. Beyond the Dress has worked with South Africa’s leading corporates and empowered hundreds of women with valuable insight on how to bridge the gap between work and personal life. Clients include Siemens, Massmart, Alexander Forbes, Life Healthcare Group, RMB Private Bank and Unilever to name a few. Lori has co-authored Own Your Space: The Toolkit for the Working Woman in conjunction with Nadia Bilchik, CNN Editorial Producer. Own Your Space provides practical tools and insights gleaned from workshops held around the world and from interviews with some of South Africa’s most accomplished women to provide you with tried-and-tested techniques, tips and advice to help you boost your career, enhance your confidence and truly own your space on every level. Own Your Space is the ultimate ‘toolkit’ to unleash your true power. It’s for the woman who wants to take her career to new heights and who is ready to fulfil her true potential.
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