My Morning Routine…and How I Break It

Routines, systems, processes….I love them. Keeping things orderly feels good.

I like to have a place for things so I can find them when I need them. Packing many things into a tight and well-organized timeframe would be how my boyfriend says I live my life. 

Morning schedules and the importance of them are regular topics in the news, on podcasts and in the blogosphere. It would seem, according to those who tout them, that if we don’t practice some type of ritual every morning we won’t be financially successful and may not live very long. I’m guessing our sex lives may suffer as well. 

These morning power routines are hailed to give us that extra edge over everyone one else – and quickly provide the fuel to guilt us into shame if we don’t adhere to them. 

You didn’t get up and immediately do 60 minutes of yoga this morning? You’re lazy.

Missed your morning mediation? You will be spiritually void for the next 23 hours.

Didn’t jot down your dreams in your spirit journal? Nightmares tonight!

Breaking a routine or not having one shouldn’t make us feel inferior to those who religiously adhere to their strict regimes. What is the obsession with doing things habitually and repeatedly in our personal lives? Isn’t that the opposite of what the business world says?

One of the top reasons why companies fail is…inability to change.

In the work place, the ability to be flexible is almost always near the top of desired characteristics in leadership roles. Process is seen as a dirty word. Agility is where it’s at.

Jeannette Landin outlines the important of flexibility in “thought, action and response” in her post Keys to Flexible Leadership in SF Strategic Finance. Rob Wormley lists flexibility as the #1 leadership characteristic in his article Top Leadership Qualities Every Manager Needs from the blog When I Work.

The ability to shift gears, take it to the next level and scale rapidly all imply change and progression. So why not infuse a little change into our mornings? 

I’m here to say…go for it! Break your routine. 

Don’t feel like doing a 30 mixture yoga workout first thing after you wake up? Rather watch an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm? Do it!

Crave a mocha instead of fresh pressed celery juice? Give it a go.

Now, I’m not saying do those things every morning, but mixing it up and providing variety can be extremely gratifying.

The important thing is to carve out time to do something for yourself.

Enjoying a few moments to think about what it is I really feel like doing with my mornings has led me to some unusual activities and kick-started my interest in other areas.

Yesterday I did 30 minutes of modern dance in the morning which mostly consisted of rolling around on the floor listening to Zoë Keating. It felt great! 

I actually enjoy a tall glass of fresh celery juice, but not every morning. (I know, that’s not how the celery juice diet is supposed to be done, but so what?) Sometimes I drink mate or coffee or English breakfast tea – wherever my mood takes me. 

Yoga in the morning feels great, but sometimes I go on a walk or a hike.

Sometimes I grab my iPad and just write or finish watching the movie I started the night before.

Meditating every day has huge benefits and when I don’t do it I feel off. But I don’t beat myself up over it if I miss a few days.  

Sometimes I jump straight out of bed and go downstairs to sit in front of my computer and start working. I usually regret those mornings.

Many of us have a compact timeframes in the morning. Gotta get the kids up, make sure they have breakfast, get showered, eat, organize after school activities, all before heading out to work – that’s a lot to do. 

I’m not here to tell you how to manage that, you know what’s best for you. I just want to emphasize that there should be no guilt or shame if one of these magical power routines isn’t a part of every morning. Or, if you are trying to adhere to some rigid workout schedule or healthy eating habit and you skip a day, it’s okay.

While we are creatures of habit, if habit were all we had there would never be any innovation. The human race has advanced because of change, not because we did the same thing over and over again.  

So change it up. Break your routine.

If you are dreading your morning workout, think about what you’d rather do. If it’s hitting the snooze button then maybe that’s what your body needs. (Though doing that every morning may mean it’s time to evaluate sleep habits.)

If the thought of one more glass of celery juice makes you gag, then for Pete’s sake, don’t drink it. 

If writing down all of your dreams seems like a chore and you’d rather put on your sneakers and take the dog for a walk, then do it.

Giving a little piece of every morning to myself helped ease the pain of imminent grueling work days when I was in a corporate role. And since I haven’t had a traditional day job for two years, my mornings are now my favorite part of the day. My goal is to keep some time to myself every morning when I begin work again soon.

For now, I’m writing this from bed at 5:30 am with a delicious cup of tea.