Motivational Matters

I have written many times before about my morning routine. I follow the same rituals, doing the same things in the same order every day. This system grounds me personally and helps me find purpose to my day. I don’t think I’m overstating to say; it has been the most significant contribution to the recent changes in my happiness, my business success and my mental health.

The routine has developed gradually over the last year or so. After reading James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits, I learnt the power of a routine and habit stacking. This “stacking” is where we take a new habit we want to internalise and put it either immediately before or immediately after a habit we already have. So, for example, I decided I want to shave every day rather than having stubble. So, I created a habit where I shave immediately before I get into the shower every morning. A simple habit and it stuck.

This routine is a moving feast and is in a slow but steady flux as my ideas and thinking changes. I will test things by adding or removing them from the overall mix as I decide if something does or doesn’t fit with the routine.

A recent example of this was my listening habit first thing in the morning. My journey of discovery and self-learning began in earnest about nine months ago when Justina encouraged me to start listening to motivational speakers on YouTube. One of the earliest morning routines I developed was to listen to these YouTube video’s immediately before getting out of bed.

When I first wake up, I read the newspaper for about 50 minutes in bed, then I switch on one of these motivational YouTube videos, and this provides the stimulus and mental cue to get me out of bed. I don’t listen or watch anything else on YouTube, so I don’t select the video to watch I click play, and their auto-recommend engine seems to find me useful, relevant stuff.

I don’t watch the video either; I’m only listening to the audio. I continue listening to the same type of video’s while I shower, get dressed, cook and eat breakfast. I turn it off once I sit down at my desk and listen to music instead while I write this blog post. This change allows me to concentrate and engage 100 per cent with what I’m writing.

Regular readers will know that I have become obsessed with Audible over the last couple of months. I’m learning an incredible amount from these audio books. I tend to listen when I travel, when I exercise, when I’m cooking and typically finish a book every one or two days. I decided that YouTube videos should be replaced by audio books. So, I started to listen to whatever book I happened to be on in the morning as well.

After a week or two, I realised that this didn’t work for me. My writing suffered. I struggled to get out of bed. I realised I had introvertedly broken a good habit. I went back to my YouTube videos, and all returned to normal.

I think the issue was the content and the way it’s presented. The books I was listening to audible are reasonably “heavy.” I need to concentrate, listen hard and think about the message. The YouTube videos were lighter, more motivational in their content, more energising and uplifting. Perfect to kick-start my morning. Their engaging voices and the upbeat, positive message got me out of bed and pumped me up for the day. They often inspired and gave content for these blog posts in a way that the more substantial, detail orientated audiobooks didn’t.

This change illustrates the shifting nature of routines. You need to identify what works for you and then stick to it. Of course, you should test new ideas, add or remove habits as you see fit. Ultimately you are aiming to create a morning ritual that delivers the results you are seeking.

As the dawn light glows, I hope that you are up working on your goals and dreams. While the others are sleeping, you are working. While the others are dreaming, you are producing, while the others are trying you are doing! Your vision and goals will become a reality when you commit to becoming the person you have always dreamed of. Long before others believe, you must believe it’s possible.

Remember, we climb the mountain, not in giant leaps but one small step at a time.

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