I would like to explore with you something that's really important to me. It’s had a huge impact on my thought processes, my stress levels and my overall life. It's also something that each and every single one of us has every day.
It’s your morning, or more specifically, your morning routine.
Okay. It may seem a simple topic to talk about. They come around once a day, they don't make a fuss. Some of them are cold and dreary, whereas other ones are dark and you can still see the stars. Yet I realised the way in which I've decided to use my time in the morning has a profound impact on the outcome of my day. But when measured over time, it also has a profound impact on my life.
Let’s rewind to 2014.
If the absolute latest I could leave the house for work was 8am, I would have a dreaded but much needed alarm set at 07:45. The relentless sound would be met with indignation. I would press snooze and get a 3 minute respite to 07:48, before another reprieve to 07:51. At this point I would quickly jump out of bed, throw on some clothes, brush my teeth and be out the door.
After a 13 minute power walk to the tube, I would line up in my usual spot on the platform and pray I could get a seat. I had practiced this down to perfection so I would get on as quickly as I could and scurry to the first available seat.
Moments after my bum had made contact with the cushion, I would close my eyes again and snooze for another 45 minutes. This gave me just enough time to wake up before it was time to get off. I would then power walk through Moorgate; acquiring a banana or yoghurt somewhere en route if it was a good day. All being well I would arrive a couple of minutes before I started work. That was it. A normal day. Monday to Friday that was how it would be.
I would be tired and lethargic during the morning, my brain would be a little bit foggy. I'd be craving sweets and sugar around lunch. I would get through the end of my day, scuttle home and then I'd stay up until about midnight. I would watch TV and play on my phone, check football, and then do it all over again.
If we fast forward to 2020. I wake up with more energy than I've ever had before. I'm more grateful. I appreciate the things in my life, and I have more enthusiasm for what I do each day. Most importantly, I get to structure my day so I can spend my time doing those things that are most meaningful to me. There have been many transformations along the way over this six year old period. But without doubt one of them was being able to love, appreciate and master my morning routine.
It all started a few years back, with no conscious intention on my part, there was no plan. I just happened to notice that various leaders in different fields would highlight one particular element of their morning routine as key. They would talk about what they perceived to be crucial in setting up their day for success.
For some of them, it would be meditation. For others, it would be an intense exercise routine, and for others it would be gratitude practices. As a curious learner, I thought I would experiment and see what all the fuss was about. I decided to invest 20 minutes of my day - I negotiated with myself that I would get up 20 minutes earlier and I'd test it out. They were tough negotiations.
I started getting up 20 minutes earlier and I started testing one by one. I started accumulating this series of different practices, disciplines, and little exercises. I found out what worked and what didn't. Sure enough, I realised that each one of these tools has its own little superpower.
My intense morning exercise gave me energy and increased my focus. I found my productivity increased and I was more disciplined during the day. Meditation would melt away any stress, and also help me feel more creative. Gratitude practices put me in a more positive state of mind, so I could really connect to all the wonderful things that I have in my life - the people I love and care about.
I began to wonder what would happen if I could incorporate all of these super powers into each and every single day. I got to work like a mixologist at your local cocktail bar. I began to add a little bit of this here and a little bit of that there, I eventually combined all of these little superpowers into one routine.
It took me several weeks but I got there, l found the perfect blend.
The more focus I put into my morning routine the greater results I started to see. This blend of exercises in my morning suddenly became more important. The benefits of the work I was doing was palpable. I was getting fitter, I was getting stronger. I was performing better at work. My relationships were improved.
Slowly but surely, I noticed the late night started to get earlier as my mornings started to get more fun and more productive.
Like Claudio Ranieri, the football manager affectionately nicknamed ‘the Tinker man’ for constantly changing his tactics; I kept tweaking and refining my morning routine. Finding ways that I could improve it and upgrade it. I actually really enjoyed figuring out how much I could squeeze out the smallest amount of time.
The thing that completed the puzzle for me was a quote from one of my mentors Dr Demartini. He said if you don't fill up your day with high priority actions that inspire you, it will fill up with low priority distractions that don’t.
So I began to plan and structure my day in this energised, infused and grateful place. Boy did it work. I’m grateful to say in 2020, I'm waking up earlier than ever, usually beating my alarm. I'm more enthusiastic, I love what I do. I am looking forward to finding out how else I can make my day and my life as enjoyable and productive as possible.
To close, I'll invite you to consider your morning routine. Ask yourself what is one thing, just one thing that you could add in that would make a difference to your mental or physical well being?
Furthermore, I encourage you to commit to experimenting with that over the next seven days, and to see where that takes you.
Danny Greeves is an active member of Norwich Speakers Club and is a regular contributor to the Members' Blog. Outside of Toastmaster, Danny is a Life Coach and more information can be found at www.dannygreevescoaching.com