My Daily Routine

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I don't trust myself if left to my own devices. Really, I don't.

In my last post I talked about the divide between the mind and the brain. I won't go into the details again in this post, but this is a quick synopsis. The mind is highly logical, thrives in discipline and is our source of willpower. The brain, on the other hand, is emotional. It prefers the freedom to roam on the path of least resistance. I used the analogy of the rider and the elephant to help illustrate this point. The rider is the logical mind while the elephant is the emotional brain. The rider is the smaller of the two, so in order to steer the elephant along the correct path, we must practice sitting in the rider's seat, holding the reins. It takes intentional effort to strengthen our mind so that it is the one controlling our brain, and not the other way around. In other words, we must practice discipline. 

Discipline is a choice we make - or fail to make - on a daily basis. It's not a one-and-done decision, but rather discipline is cultivated over years of choosing to act in our own true best interest (or the best interest of others) moment by moment, day by day. I have found that the decisions I make throughout the course of a day are often heavily influenced by the decisions I make in the first hours that I'm awake.

You'll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.

      - John C. Maxwell

My morning routine is like a ritual to me, the process as a whole is more than just the sum of its parts. There's something about going through my checklist of items with the intention to be disciplined, to set myself up to become a little better than I was the day before. The act in and of itself is empowering. It reinforces self-respect, it reminds me that today is a gift and an opportunity, and it keeps my mind both present in the moment and set on the broader vision I have for myself. 

If I ever miss my routine (or even just some parts of the routine) the rest of the day is off. My energy is low and my focus is muddled. I am much more likely to go through the motions and simply make it to the end of the day rather than look to accomplish anything significant. And these small instances lacking self-discipline add up. They have a compound effect. If I miss my routine and have an off day, I'm that much more likely to wake up the next day and miss even more of my routine (if not all of it), watching my discipline slip like sand through my fingers. 

Here is what my morning routine looks like:

***DISCLAIMER: I am a single girl in her mid-twenties. Busy parents of the world, don't fret. But rather look to the things you can control in your routine. What can you alter in order to empower yourself? How can you practice self-care on a consistent basis? How can you set an example for the little ones who look up to you?

  1. I'm awake at 5:00 or 5:30. I make my bed. This is a non-negotiable. The bed gets made. Not because my mom said to. Because it's #adulting. Busy parents: even if the rest of the beds in the house don't get made, you can still make yours. It will make you feel better. 
  2. I drink a big glass of lemon water before heading to the gym for some cardio. (Note: this is not a fitness recommendation. I do cardio in the mornings because I like it. I like to sweat first thing. I like to feel my lungs and heart work. Some days I do intense or long cardio, some days it's short or light. It's not a weight loss thing. It's a mental/emotional thing. It gets my mind right.) Busy parents: drop and give me 20. 20 squats, 20 push ups, 20 sit ups and 20 high jumps. 
  3. While doing cardio I'm reading something. At the moment it's Gary V's latest book. Some days it's Malcolm Gladwell or Seth Godin, and some days it's James Salter or Jack Kerouac. The book matters less than the act of reading it. Busy parents: embrace audible.
  4. When I'm back in from the gym, I have 7 minutes of quiet time. I close my door (to keep out my fur child) and sit on a pillow on the floor. I set my timer for 7 minutes and practice mindfulness until the alarm goes off. Some days this is hard (like, really hard) and some days I could sit for an hour. But every time I do it I stand up from the pillow feeling more grounded than when I sat down. And so this tradition lives on. 
  5. Next - I head to the kitchen and turn on my tea kettle for my daily detox drink. It's a surprisingly palatable cocktail of apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, dandelion root tea, ginseng green tea, and matcha. I add a dash of honey on the days I'm feeling soft. I make it in a 32 oz. Yeti Rambler and it lasts all day. Busy parents: drinking a detoxifying elixir helps to control inflammation, a side effect of stress.
  6. While the water is heating I open my Bible and read a verse or two and journal about what I've read. Sometimes I simply write the verse in as my journal entry for the day, some days I write a short reflection about the verse. This keeps my mind and heart looking to God who I believe to be my ultimate source of Power, Love and Self-Discipline. Every day is a tug of war. If I skip this, the knot starts to travel in the wrong direction. Busy parents: if devotionals are your thing, you could do a short one here with everyone. It takes two minutes. 
  7. The tea kettle is whistling by now; I pour the water and then pack my food for work and mentally plan how I will bridge any gaps I might have in my day of eating. Most often I pack a big lunch, so I make little notes in my mind of what I will be reaching for if I decide that my lunch isn't going to be enough. (Big note: even if you make a mental note to reach for the exact same thing every day, still do it! Continue to put thought into it each morning. If you don't you're setting yourself up to make a game-time decision when hangry. Good luck with that one.) Busy parents: pack lunches ahead of time so you just have to open the door and... shazam! It's like Mary Poppins lives in your fridge. 
  8. Shower time (I know you were wondering if that was ever going to happen). While in the shower I'm mentally mapping out my workouts for both today and tomorrow. I'm not listing them out in detail but I'm scoping out how my body feels and what it needs today, and what it will probably need tomorrow. Some days I know it needs some resistance training while other days it needs 15-20 minutes max of calisthenics. Busy parents: this could be your quiet time. Use it wisely. Practice mindfulness here. Set your intention for the rest of the day.
  9. 9:00 - I'm walking into work and the rest of my day begins. By 9am I've sweated, drank roughly 4+ cups of lemon water, read something interesting, meditated, read His word, wrote in my journal, packed lunch, packed my daily tea, planned out my snacks and thought about my workout for the day. Busy parents: take a breath after dropping the kiddos off at school. I don't care how much of a hurry you feel like you're in, sweating it isn't going to get you to your next stop any faster. Lean your seat back and throw on your stunner shades because you just accomplished more in your morning than most do in their entire day. 

We are what we do on a consistent basis. I challenge you to take a look at your routine. What is in your control? What can be done differently? Do you need to wake up earlier? Go to bed sooner? Make the changes necessary in order to see the change you want in your life.