For most of us, the holiday season has been filled with busy-ness. Even fun, happy stress is stressful. Now that the break is over and we’re back at work, we feel the need to hit the ground running, solving all the problems, putting out all the fires. In the midst of all that fire-fighting, we can far too easily get off-track, and lose sight of our path. We know it’s important to take some time for ourselves, to make sure we’re the best we can be, before we start tackling other people’s problems. Here are some tips for starting each day off on the right track before we even get out the door.
I recently listened to Joe Sanok’s Practice of the Practice podcast #347, “Hal Elrod Has a Miracle Morning Routine.” It really woke me up to ways I could be more productive by starting each morning on the right track. In his book, The Miracle Morning, Elrod studied the morning practices of the most successful people, and boiled them down to 6 essential and easy-to-do morning habits. He calls it SAVERS – which stands for Silence, Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading, and Scribing. You can learn more about his system here.
Of course, if you know me, you know I like to tinker with things, so I was looking for ways to personalize Elrod’s SAVERS for myself, in a way that would be even easier for me to remember, and that would evoke a positive feeling for me. I came up with PAMPER. I guess I like the idea of pampering myself every morning. PAMPER stands for Pray, Affirm, Meditate, Picture, Exercise, and Read. Here’s what it means to me, and what I intend to practice every morning:
It’s important to me to start off each morning with a prayer of gratitude and asking for God’s blessings on my day and for those I love. I was raised in a family where prayer was part of our routine, and I don’t want to lose sight of that.
Repeating a positive affirmation is something else I want to do daily. I don’t want it to be an unrealistic wish-list affirmation (“I am a millionaire, I am a millionaire…”) because my inner self knows when I’m lying to me. I also don’t want a feel-good, vague affirmation like, “Money flows to me effortlessly,” because I might be tempted to sit back and wait for something to happen rather than working for it. I prefer an affirmation along the lines of, “My work goes out, and good things come back.” I’ll keep a small notebook handy to write down affirmations, and I might change it up every week, month, or even daily. If you want to learn more about affirmations, check out Louise Hay. If you want to read affirming messages twice a day, follow Lin-Manuel Miranda on Twitter (@Lin_Manuel) or get his book, Gmorning, Gnight.
When I pray I talk to God, and when I meditate I listen. For me, this is like the Quaker practice of spiritual communion, opening oneself up to hear the still, small voice of God. I have a notebook handy during meditation to jot down any insights that come to me. This is another moment of silence that, however brief it may be, it always gets my morning off to a good start.
Visualizing what you want in your life is a good way to keep yourself on track. Many TED Talkers have spoken on topics about visualizing, and research supports the idea that mental practice, coupled with physical practice, improves performance better than physical practice alone. So, picture for yourself what you want in your life. Visualize yourself succeeding. What would success look like for you? Take a moment to capture that image in your mind’s picture file.
One of the things I liked about what Elrod shared on the podcast was that we don’t have to put in a full workout every morning, if that’s not right for us. Some people go to the gym at lunch or after work, or have their own routines of walking or jogging that they don’t want to do in the morning. Elrod said even one minute of exercise is enough to get our day off to the right start. When he doesn’t have more time, he does jumping jacks for 60 seconds, and feels the benefits. Although I no longer engage in jumping jacks, (I have a titanium ankle I don’t trust,) I know I can easily manage one minute of exercise every single morning. Who knows? I may even find that once I get past the 60 second mark, I can keep on going.
At night I read a chapter from a novel, part of a memoir, a poem, and the Gnight page of Miranda’s book, but in the mornings I have been jumping right into my own writing. In 2019 I plan to start each morning by doing a bit of reading in my field, research for my book, a journal article, or some other inspiration to further my career goals. Adding morning reading to my day, I hope, will focus me for the work ahead.
I hope you will join me in pampering yourself during 2019, Do what works for you to keep yourself on track for a successful day.