Destin sunrise

Since I was a young child, I have always loved mornings. Cup of coffee, chilly air, birds chirping, indirect light – I love it all.

Two different times, I’ve been able to live above coffee shops. I would awake to the sound of people laughing or having conversations, which would cause me to jump out of bed and run downstairs, realizing that life was potentially happening without me. This is likely because I’m a huge extrovert, and just the thought of missing a moment with friends is enough to put me over the edge.

But over the past few months, I’ve had to change my strategy. I work from home, in a HOME, so that jolt of joy in the morning has to happen internally. That hasn’t always been easy.

So for the past few months, I’ve been more focused on not only waking up early, but to be intentional about what I do with that time. That means no TV. No looking at messages on my phone. That especially means no Facebook.

First – I’ve forced myself to breathe.

Now, I do 5 minutes of sun salutations (which translates to short series of yoga moves, to the uninitiated) every morning. This requires me to breathe deeply. To concentrate on nothing for a few minutes. It’s joyful. It’s centering. And wow, has it helped me at the gym. Even though life has kept me from working out as much as I would like, my lung capacity and my flexibility is better than it has been in decades.

Second – I write something. With a pen. On paper.

I write anything. Notes. A paragraph. Thoughts. A letter. While often this is just a 3-minute brain dump, it helps me get my creative brain in motion and helps me get a jumpstart on work writing. There was an immediate result, as writing for work has become something I actually enjoy. It’s given me a focus that has made my work more efficient. This has kept my clients are happy, and when they are happy then I am happy.

Third – I read something. That is printed. On paper. No screens.

And the result?

In just 4 months of 2016, I have read more books than I did all last year. Fiction, business books, memoirs, history books – all have an equal platform now. But the funny thing about reading – it’s addictive. I’m finding myself more drawn to reading at night, and likely it’s because my brain needs to wind down. My eyes need it after looking at a computer screen all day. By bookending my day (pun intended), I’m not only learning, but I feel like I’m resting better.

This little 4-month discipline has succeeded in another way – it’s given me permission to dream. Now, I am focused on becoming even more focused.

I plan to add into this morning ritual actual writing. Either for a certain amount of time each day or a certain number of words. That’s what I want to do in my life, so why wouldn’t I set aside time for that? I’m also prioritizing working out. I put meetings and events on my calendar, why wouldn’t I schedule my health?

So what do you want to do with your life? Where do you want to be?

I’m realizing, at least for me, I need to focus on my goals first thing in the morning. I need to set my mind on the stuff that matters for the marathon that will transport my life and my work to a better place.

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