Appreciation & Mindset: morning routine

I don’t have a set schedule. One day I might have back-to-back coaching calls starting at 8 a.m. and the next day be call-free until early afternoon.

While I love the variety and flexibility, it also leads me to crave more structure to start the day. After some experimenting, here’s the routine I’ve landed on:

  1. Wake to an alarm.  I’m a very good sleeper, so my iPhone alarm (By The Seaside) gets my day started.
  2. Read for 10 minutes. I hate jumping right out of bed, and reading is a nice transition from sleeping to wakefulness. My rule is no fiction in the morning. I could read for hours, so I literally set a timer for 10 minutes and stop when it goes off.
  3. The usual morning ablutions. Nothing out of the ordinary here.
  4. Stretch for 5 minutes. I think of this movement as a reminder to myself: You’re going to be fluid and flexible today. While 5 minutes isn’t long, it’s another gentle way to wakefulness. Also, the fact that it’s only five minutes makes it highly doable. I like highly digestible habits because they make it easier to be successful.
  5. Fix a simple breakfast. Usually fresh fruit, granola and almond milk. I tend to eat the same thing in the morning because I like to think it postpones decision fatigue until later in the day.
  6. Make a gratitude list. I do this while eating breakfast, and usually 8-10 things spring readily to mind. I don’t struggle or stew over this list; what’s on it comes from an intuitive place that’s easy to access when I give it space.
  7. Write my intention for the day. I don’t try to come up with an intention; it finds me while I eat my breakfast, feeling grateful. If I am ever stuck, I simply ask “How do you want to feel today?” Here are recent intentions: To be in flow. Enjoy the day. Connect. Move forward. Focus on high return activities. Stand in my own power. (One intention per day is plenty! Trying to emphasize too much means emphasizing nothing).
  8. Make a To Do list for the day. This might be only two or three items—at most four or five. Gone are the days of listing everything and the kitchen sink on my To Do list and then feeling lousy for not marking it all off. I don’t set myself up for failure anymore. Instead, my list is short and sweet, highly doable, and flows directly from my intention for the day.

I used to start my day in a frenetic, feeling behind state before my feet hit the floor. I was always and only about getting things done so I could get on to whatever was next.

My worth was in my productivity. Gratitude hung out in the background, but certainly wasn’t a focus. I’d be halfway to lunch (or sometimes dinner) before I realized I wasn’t being intentional about my day.

My own embrace of intentional living has changed not only my morning routine, but my life. To be intentional is to be deliberate. To choose.

I am deliberate about my morning routine.

I choose to start my day in a way that is positive and gently purposeful.

Of course, my morning routine isn’t one-size-fits-all. I don’t have kids or a 9-5 job, so my morning looks different than those who do.

But just as career and family are choices, so is how you start your morning.

Don’t use your job or family responsibilities as an excuse for not being intentional about how you greet the day. I encourage and challenge you to create a routine that allows you to be your best self.

A morning routine that is:

    • grounded in gratitude
    • intentional
    • about wholeness, not just productivity

What’s one thing you could change about your morning routine to make it more gentle? What’s one thing you would add or subtract from your routine to make it more intentional?