January so often becomes about making resolutions, lists and promises we may or may not be able to keep… but it doesn’t always work out as well as we hoped, does it? Something always seems to derail even the best of intentions to hit the gym more, eat healthier, or pursue that dream you’ve been putting off.
I want to propose to you that the secret answer to achieving the goals on your resolution list is in your morning routine. And it’s time to make some radical changes to that routine so that you can be a happier, healthier, more productive YOU. Basically, if you do the five things outlined below, your New Year’s resolutions will have to follow suit. Are you willing to give it a try?
Here are five things you can do this morning to make your life more manageable and productive as you keep your resolutions!
- Go to bed early, wake up early. This one might be hard for you night owls, but getting more sleep is essential to health and productivity. The Huffington Post references a study out of the University of Toronto and Rottman Research Institute that shows “morningness in both younger and older people is associated with a greater experience of positive emotions.” What does this mean? If you stay up late to work on a project, you’re less apt to be productive and happy. Simply going to bed earlier and pursuing the same project in the morning’s light will benefit your project and boost your happiness. Try it. All you night owls might find yourselves hatching into morning doves.
- Drink lemon water first thing in the morning. Drinking water first thing in the morning isn’t a new concept. This practice is known for flushing out toxins and waking up the body’s metabolism. But if that sounds unpalatable to you at morning’s first light, try adding lemon to your glass. The citrus “helps boost the immune system,” according to Amy Myers, MD, author of The Autoimmune Solution. And if you really want to get serious about your water intake, try drinking an entire Nalgene bottle (equivalent to 32 ounces) to challenge yourself and start the day out with a healthy punch of hydration.
- Stretch and exercise before noon. The most renowned health experts of today don’t just recommend stretching and exercising in the morning, they actually practice what they preach. Bob Harper, trainer on “The Biggest Loser” and author of Skinny Habits: The Six Secrets of Thin People, exercises every morning at 10 a.m. at a Crossfit gym. Kristin McGhee, the star of dozens of yoga and pilates fitness DVDs, spends her mornings on the floor with her baby son, stretching and doing push ups while he plays with his trucks and blocks. And Kate Geagan, RD and author of Go Green Get Lean says of her 30-minute morning hikes, “I find exercising first helps me arrive at my desk energized, creative, and ready to work rather than trying to muster the energy to hit the gym later in the day or early evening.”
- Have quiet time. We live in an age of constant noise – our TVs, phones and other devices bring us so much information that is often coupled with beeps, buzzes and notifications galore. Shawn Anchor of Good Housekeeping cites that “something as ubiquitous as the ringing of cell phones has the power to cause a spike in blood pressure.” Taking a few moments in the morning to quietly welcome the day can make all the difference in maintaining peace for your personal life. Morning quiet time can look different for everyone. It can look like doing some yoga stretches, sitting quietly in prayer, taking deep breaths or visualizing the day ahead. It can be three minutes or 30 minutes. But there is no doubt that quiet time in the morning makes a profoundly positive impact for the scope of your entire day.
- Tackle the biggest item on your to-do list first. The most surefire way to beat procrastination is to not give it a foothold in your day. By tackling the biggest “to-do” on your list first (after drinking water, exercising, and having quiet time, of course), completing your day’s biggest to-do can have you feeling like a hero before lunch. Kelly Forrister, senior coach and presenter with the David Allen Company, suggests keeping a running to-do list divided into three categories: what do to at home, what to do on the computer, and what errands need to be completed. That way, you can keep tabs on which tasks need to be done in which order. The to-do lists probably won’t ever be complete, but we can ensure that the most important thing will get done each day by adopting this approach.
These five morning actions will create a smooth foundation and a sustainable lifestyle framework for you to springboard from. No matter what your resolutions are, adopting this morning pattern will create the space for you to accomplish those rascally, elusive goals. New Year’s Resolutions, get ready to be accomplished!