If you are anything like me, and I suspect if you made it through more than one of my ridiculous articles and have come back for more than you are, you really like the idea of bettering yourself. Perhaps so much so that you, like me, hear about all of these cool things that you absolutely have to incorporate into your day-to-day in order to improve your strength/mental fortitude/idiot tolerance.
I’ll give you an example.
A few years ago, when my son was very young, I was finding that I had almost no time to work out. This was troubling, because it was very difficult to feel like I was making progress in my well-thought-out and highly lucid goal of Getting Super Jacked.
Whatever is an aspiring young father to do? Why, simply wake up at 4 in the morning and hit the garage gym, of course! Who cares if it’s 10 degrees out? Not me, I’m far too tough and manly to care about silly things like frostbite and torn tendons!
While the fruition of this idea did last long enough to stir some slight admiration in my wife, it soon came to the point where I dreaded going to bed because falling asleep meant that I would (very) soon have to wake up and torture myself in the frozen garage.
Then I missed one day (it’s just one day, I’ll definitely get out there tomorrow!), then I missed another, and before I knew it I was losing my hard-won gains.
There go the Gains
It has been said that there is more to learn from failure than success. I find that to be absolutely true, especially if you want to learn what it feels like to be discouraged and apathetic. Why bother even working out at all if I can’t get myself to reach the ideal bodybuilding physique from a month of hard suffering at an ungodly hour?
But fear not, dear reader, for there are actual lessons to be learned in all of this whining and self-pity!
It’s Schoolin’ Time
I have recently begun putting actual thought into what my morning routine looks like (currently: stuff my face while I watch YouTube videos until I’m late for work) and what I can do to improve it. After all, I’m pretty sure Richard Branson has a morning routine, so I need one too if I’m to one day own an empire.
There are lots and lots of suggestions for things to add to your morning routine: meditation, deep breathing exercises, cardio, journaling, food preparation, yoga, stretching, cold showers, etc.
My natural instinct is to look at this list and say, “Self, here’s what we’re going to do, starting first thing tomorrow morning. We’ll start with ten minutes of meditation, followed by an invigorating twenty minutes of yoga, which we’ll then wrap up with some deep static stretching for, oh I don’t know, how about 15 minutes. Then it’ll be a brief 3-mile jog, followed by an ice-cold shower, and it’ll all culminate in a journaling session in which we’ll chronicle all our deepest and most important hopes and dreams of the day.”
This will, of course, induce burn out within the first fifteen minutes, and I will never make it through a single session.
Like the Title Said
What I have decided to do, against all of my strongest instincts, is to limit my morning routine, for now, to one of these things. In fact, I already started.
Earlier this week, I started by waking up when my alarm clock sounded, rather than hit the snooze button and infuriate my long-suffering wife. Then, I actually got out of bed! What incredible strides I’m hitting already!
I then have initiated my new and improved morning routine by doing about five minutes of very light yoga and stretching.
Then it was on to face-stuffing and YouTube.
What I will do, and I’ll fill you in on the progress at a later date, is wait until this feels totally normal before I add another element to the routine.
The idea here, and the reason I chose the title of this piece, is to keep my optimism (I really can do this!) while holding myself to a healthy dose of reality (I can’t do all of it right now). I have gotten to know myself well enough that I know that I want to go all in, but I will quickly burn out as the enormity of it all hits me.
Wrapping Up (Finally)
I’m sure some of you out there are far past me on the morning routine timeline, and are probably chuckling at my infinitesimally tiny incremental step. But that’s the point; it’s incremental.
As time goes on, I’ll add another thing, and then another, and maybe I’ll tweak something here and there, but the real point is that I’m actually doing something in a way that is sustainable for the long term.
Now, to see if it actually lasts long term!
What are your morning routines? Are they intentional? Do you have any recommendations or things to avoid? Let me know in the comments!
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