The simple daily habits that have the capacity to make you great
I may not be a morning person all of the time, but I know that almost everything is better in the morning. My childhood is littered with beautiful memories of waking up early on a camping trip, running on occasion before the sun came up or driving to an early morning Bible study or get-together with friends before school. There’s something about doing something before the world and your earthly re-programming get to you — when you’re still you — impressionable, curious, and open to whatever may be before you.
“Remember, the moment you accept total responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you claim the power to change anything in your life.”
― Hal Elrod, The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life: Before 8AM
This list of habits has helped me to reconnect with who I was before I was warped into a follower and drone of my society — to do powerful work and make a good change in the world, big and small. I hope that it can be as helpful to you as it is to me. They may be simple, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t profound, significant, and incredibly supportive of the life you think you can only dream about.
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1: Get outside
This may seem like a silly habit to start out with, but I think that it’s ridiculously important for living the life that you want. Getting outside is not just a great way to slow down and connect to nature, but it’s a great way to expose yourself to Vitamin D, your neighbors, a sunrise, or whatever else you might encounter. It helps with your environmental and maybe even cultural wellness and connects you to the world that you live in, helping you to be a better citizen and good actor.
“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit.” –Edward Abbey
Without the sun, we become depressed and sometimes even lonely, and in the most serious cases of Vitamin D deficiency, our bones literally start to break. While that hopefully isn’t in the cards for you anytime soon, I think it’s something important to remember. We are organic beings who need light and sun and fresh air. Don’t deprive yourself of that. Instead, make it a priority each day to expose yourself to the elements. I know that that’s one of the quickest ways to boost my mood in the Fall, by stepping outside in the early morning with my coffee to feel the breeze and hear the birds chirp.
2: Review your goals and visualize your future success
One of my friends the other day looked over at me and, rather spontaneously, asked me what I daydream about. I’ll be honest, at first, the question caught me off guard, and given how well I know this person, almost seemed inappropriate with how forward it was. However, the more I’ve thought back on the question and that moment, I’ve appreciated that he had the bravery to ask me that and share his own.
I thought that I knew what I wanted, and then I realized that since making some big life decisions and changes to my career plan, I haven’t slowed down long enough to think about what it’ll be like. That doesn’t mean that I’m not excited, but I didn’t have a visual to associate my goals with — and I didn’t know what to say when he asked me about what I daydreamed about.
“The clearer you are when visualizing your dreams, the brighter the spotlight will be to lead you on the right path.” — Gail Lynne Goodwin
This morning, I took a few moments to pull up Pinterest and add a few images to my “Vision Board”. I recently changed my major to Human Development and Family Studies with the goal of becoming a Marriage and Family Therapist and added some images associated with that. I also went and looked at some older images, of firefighters, teachers, writers, and horse owners, and other images of things that I want to achieve or associate with in the future.
This was a wildly impactful activity, helping me center my day on my dreams in a tangible and very visual way. I can’t say I wouldn’t recommend it. It’ll blow your mind and make your day to see images of the life that you want right in front of you and to watch how excited they make you.
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3: Get an important project or task done
I could talk about John Zeratsky and Jake Knapp and their book Make Time for every single moment of every single day. It is an incredible book that I’ve listened to on Audible twice and read a hard copy of once, along with referencing it countless other times in conversations or in my various other writings on Medium. I love this book because of its many recommended small tips and tricks to increasing the time in your day.
“Something magic happens when you start the day with one high-priority goal.”― Jake Knapp, Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day
They give many suggestions and tell you not to do all of them, but to select the few that you think will be most impactful for you. There is one, however, that they recommend to just about everyone regardless of your life structure or stage of life. They encourage everyone to have a “highlight” of their day. This is a time that you set aside each day, maybe 45 minutes to an hour and a half, where you work on your number one task or project for the day.
This is a special and interrupted time that you would schedule on your calendar, that you preserve for that one task or project. The idea is that if you do nothing else important that day, you can walk away happy, satisfied, and proud because you got that one thing is done. I’ve found this activity incredible at getting me to set down and really assess what’s important, and to make time for the big projects that I really want to get done each day. This obviously doesn’t have to be in the morning, but if you have space for it, I would certainly consider adding “highlight” time to your morning calendar.
4: Make the conscious choice to disconnect
There is one habit that I’ve found ridiculously difficult to implement but so important to make a daily aspect of my life. It is, you guessed it, disconnecting. Whether this looks like writing without wifi for a few minutes in the morning, journaling before checking my text messages or going the first hour without my phone coming off of the charger, this habit is so difficult but so important.
“The tycoons of social media have to stop pretending that they’re friendly nerd gods building a better world and admit they’re just tobacco farmers in T-shirts selling an addictive product to children. Because, let’s face it, checking your “likes” is the new smoking.”
― Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World
When I don’t use technology or look at screens in the morning I feel like I can finally think clearly. It’s as if the clouds have cleared and the sky is bright and peaceful. This becomes something even more important to implement when I remember how much screens kill us. They make us lonely, disconnected, and simple consumers of information instead of active agents in our world. They expose us to various kinds of propaganda, anxiety-inducing information and news, and otherwise useless media that we will never be able to come back to and use for anything uplifting or productive.
“Here’s my point: the solution to an overbusy life is not more time. It’s to slow down and simplify our lives around what really matters.”
― John Mark Comer, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to stay emotionally healthy and spiritually alive in the chaos of the modern world
the benefits are certainly worth the sacrifice of not having your cellular security blanket. It’s a hard habit to build, and an even harder one to keep, but it’s so worth it. To make it easier, you can walk to your mailbox, or somewhere in your neighborhood, or sit outside with a book or journal where your phone isn’t immediately in reach. You’ll reap great benefits of peace and meaningful productivity, and if we’re being honest, you probably won’t miss much.
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5: Take care of your health in a tangible way
There’s something about the morning that makes it easy to feel everything that’s happening in your body. That’s why I love doing things like eating something small and healthy or drinking a cup of water in the morning. I haven’t gotten distracted by all of the stimuli of the day and can feel everything entering my body. And if I’m making good choices, I can feel the benefit I’m getting from eating a small and healthy first meal or hydrating myself.
“To ensure good health: eat lightly, breathe deeply, live moderately, cultivate cheerfulness, and maintain an interest in life.” — William Londen
You can also take care of your health in this way that is more significantly felt in the morning by working out. I personally prefer working out in the. evenings at my gym when no one else is there, but can still do some sort of workout practice in the morning. this can look like doing yoga on your back patio, doing some intense stretching, grabbing a few small weights, or doing some pushups. No matter how you choose to accomplish this habit, it’s an incredible feeling to experience the healthy choices you’re making in a mindful way before the distractions of the day get to you.
I implore you to make your mornings yours. They’re the time that you almost always have entirely to yourself, if you structure them right, and can be used to set off the rest of your day on the right path with the right choices. I hope that with these habits you’re able to become more mindful and intentional with your time and enjoy your mornings on an even greater level than you are right now.
I wish you the best of luck, and hope you have a great day!
CONTRIBUTED BY Katie E. Lawrence
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