How to Embrace Your Morning RoutineJan 04, 2022
For years I thought that following a morning routine would change my life...but every time I tried to follow through with it, I fell off the bandwagon after only one day (sometimes not even that). Then, I discovered the simple reason why most morning routines fail...and how to start a morning routine that you'll love.
Mentioned in this Episode:
- Client Attractor Book
- Jacob Ratliff Coaching & Consulting
- Julia Cameron's Morning Pages
- Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way
Hey there, and welcome to the Client Attractor Show. I'm your host, Jacob Ratliff, client attraction coach and author of the brand new book Client Attractor. If you want to grab a copy, you can go to clientattractorbook.com and get your free copy today.
Now today, we are going to be talking about something that entrepreneurs love to talk about but don't actually love to do, and that is morning routines. Right, we hear it all the time that we need a morning routine, something like we're supposed to wake up at 5:00 a.m., exercise and make a green smoothie, do some yoga, meditate, do some journaling, all before we sit down at our desk at 6:00 a.m. to knock out our biggest task of the day.
And while that may work for some people, my guess is that for the majority of people, it doesn't. Or at least in my experience, it does not work for me, because I was always told that I needed to have a morning routine but never really did. When I worked a nine-to-five salary job before I started my own business, I had something of a routine. I would wake up, make coffee, have my breakfast, go to the office, and that was about the extent of it.
But when I transitioned into starting my business, leaving that job, and suddenly being 100% in charge of my own schedule, that's when things started to shift, because I would start to sleep in till maybe 10 o'clock in the morning, and I would then drag myself to my computer, and I would ultimately end up not really getting a whole lot of work done that day or any day. I would show up for the meetings that I had and do the bare minimum that was on my to do list, but it was the bare minimum to serve my clients. It was not anything that was going to help me actually grow my business, so I wasn't really getting anything done.
And eventually, I decided that part of it was that I needed to get out of the house, that I couldn't work in my home office. So I started going to cafés, and I would go, you know, with this plan to sit down at a café and get a whole lot of work done, and then I would sit there for 30 minutes and think, Okay, well, this was fun, I'm going to leave now. And eventually, I did start going to a co-working space in town. I would spend I think about 200 bucks a month to be able to go there, and I would go in every day; I would go in at around eight o'clock in the morning, and I would sit at my computer. I would do, again, kind of the bare minimum. And then I would go home and just hang out for the rest of the day, not really doing anything at all.
And then, suddenly, the pandemic hit, and suddenly, I was spending all of my time at home. I was working exclusively from my home office, which was what I had tried so hard to avoid previously. As it became clear that I was going to be working from my home office for the foreseeable future, I thought that Okay, maybe I do need to get a morning routine in place. So I did the thing that everyone tells you to do when you want to create a morning routine, which is map it out on your calendar, so you block your time. For example, from 5:30 to 6:00, I want to exercise; from 6:00 to 6:30, I want to meditate; and so on. I would say, “I want to exercise, I want to meditate, I want to journal, and then I want to start work for the day.” And then the next morning would roll around, and I would do none of those things. I would lie in bed thinking, Oh my goodness, I am going to get up and do all these things? Of course I'm not.
At that moment, I wasn't regularly exercising, I wasn't regularly meditating, I wasn't regularly journaling. And I thought that suddenly—somehow—I was going to not only start doing all of those things at the same time, but I was going to start doing them while I was half asleep before the sun came up. And then, of course, I would feel awful about myself because I didn't do the things that I told myself I was going to. And ultimately, that led me to start telling myself things like “I'm lazy,” or, “I can't trust myself,” or, “I can't hold myself accountable.” When really, I had these unrealistic expectations of myself that I was going to become some enlightened, fit journaler at 6:00 in the morning. So of course, whenever I decided I was going to start a morning routine, I didn't do it even once because I was stacking all of these aspirations on top of each other.
I was talking about this with a coach that I was working with at the time, and I was telling her that I just really felt like I couldn't hold myself accountable or do the things that I say I'm going to do. She suggested that I start just trying to add one thing in each day, that instead of trying to exercise and meditate and do yoga and journal and become a world leader all before 6:00, I should probably just try one thing. And then once I had gotten in the habit of doing that one thing every day, I should consider adding something else.
So I decided that I was going to start with journaling, because journaling has always been really therapeutic for me. And of course, the next morning, I woke up, I sat down in my chair with my journal, and I wanted to do anything else in the world other than write in my journal. I felt this really intense resistance to journaling in the morning, but I decided I was gonna do it anyway. I got into the habit maybe 75% of the time, so about 75% of mornings, I would sit down and journal. So I was doing it, but at that point, it didn't feel like it was serving me; I didn't really see the benefits of journaling every morning, so that's why I was really only doing it 75% of the time and not getting to 100%.
One day, I was talking to a writing coach about Julia Cameron's famous book The Artist’s Way, and I was telling her about this journaling practice I was trying to get into and that, really, it was kind of modeled after Julia Cameron's concept of the morning pages, which is where you sit down every single morning, first thing after waking up, and write, longhand, three pages. I told her about this resistance that kept coming up for me and how it really just didn't feel like it was serving me. And she said that she hears that a lot from her clients and that one of the ways that she likes to think about the morning pages is as this idea of clearing the gunk for the day ahead, kind of getting out the fuzzies in your head so that you can greet the rest of the day with a clear and a sharp mind.
And so with that idea running around in my head, I decided that that's what I was going to turn my journaling practice into, that I was not just going to sit down and journal every morning, that I was going to sit down and journal with the intention of clearing the gunk so that I could have a really productive day that day. And that's what I started doing. And fairly immediately, I started to see the benefits of this new and improved journaling practice. I started to notice that I was getting a lot more done, that I wasn't feeling as tired at the end of the day, and that I have this kind of renewed focus on how I should be spending my time and energy.
And there are several reasons I highlight this story of the morning routine because there are several lessons to it. The first lesson is to only establish one new habit at a time because if you try to start a whole bunch of different habits at once, you dramatically decrease your chances of success. Part of this whole thing about setting up a morning routine, or any habit in general, is around setting yourself up for success rather than setting yourself up for failure.
And the second lesson is to really know why you want to start this habit. So for example, if you want to start meditating in the mornings as part of your new routine, you need to know how that's going to serve you and what purpose it is going to play throughout the rest of your day, because you're not meditating just for the sake of meditating. I was journaling just for the sake of journaling, but it wasn't until I got really clear on what it was doing for me that I began to actually see those concrete benefits.
The third and final lesson is to know when it is time to add the next element. So at this point, I have been journaling with this new journaling practice consistently for a year. I have done it every day to the point at which it is no longer a habit that I am trying to build. Instead, it is a habit that I have already built, and that means that it is time for me to add something else to my own morning routine. And in my case, it's actually this podcast.
My new habit that I'm trying to build is as soon as I finish my morning writing every day, I'm going to sit down and record an episode of this podcast. But if I had tried to do that nine months ago when I was still trying to establish this journaling habit, chances are that I would not have succeeded. So if you are trying to establish your own morning routine and want it to be as effective as possible, remember to start with only one thing, to know why you're doing that one thing, and to only move on to the next thing when you have mastered that first habit.
Thank you all so much for joining me for the Client Attractor Show. Again, my name is Jacob Ratliff, and you can pick up your free copy of Client Attractor. All you have to do is go to clientattractorbook.com. Let me know where to send it, and I'll get your copy out right away to you. Thank you so much, and I will see you tomorrow.
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