“Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.” – Stephen Pressfield
The first two hours of my day are always blocked out the same way. I get up and make coffee. I meditate for about twenty minutes. I drink coffee and read a book for about twenty minutes, while I continue to wake up, usually a book on writing, Buddhism, or personal development. I do morning pages for about thirty minutes, and then I do my fiction writing for about an hour. The whole thing takes approximately two and a half hours.
Depending on how bad the insomnia is, I might make some adjustments, but this is the general idea.
When I got the idea for this post, I did a search for “morning routine” and of course there are 5,683,109,732 results, and none of them said what I wanted to say. They make it sound so easy. Too easy.
Here’s the not-so-easy part of morning routines.
You’re probably telling yourself, “I can’t get up that early” or “I don’t have time for that” or “I don’t meditate”.
I’m not going to go down that road with you. I’m not going to indulge in those excuses, because if you’re telling yourself, “I can’t…” that is probably resistance talking.
“Resistance is always lying and always full of shit.” – Stephen Pressfield
If you’re telling yourself, “I can’t…” that means that right now you’re faced with making a monumental shift in your life, and that shit is scary. These kinds of changes mean facing the parts of yourself that are easy to ignore on a daily basis. You go from saying, “I’m not going to deal with that today” to “There is no way around this; time to face it”.
And I get it. I’ve been there. Before I started meditating. I was terrified of sitting on the cushion, because I was afraid of what I would discover about myself. Before I started morning pages, I was terrified of what three pages of free-writing would unearth in that dusty little subconscious I carry around.
Here’s how I did it: I told myself that I just had to try it. Meditate for one ten minute period. Try morning pages for three days. Simply try it. And if I didn’t like it, then I didn’t have to do it anymore.
There was no FANTASTICALLY SPECTACULAR LIFE CHANGE!! (Shoots off fireworks.) There was simply the what-the-hell-try-it-and-see-what-happens effort.
You can see how that turned out.
And that terror has never really gone away. My mind is still troubled at times. Mice and cobwebs still rattle around in my subconscious. There are days when I’m terrified of sitting on the cushion or of free writing three pages, because I know something is bothering me and keeping me awake at night. I also know that I can’t make the progress I want to make without moving through it. “Not dealing with that today” no longer becomes an option.
And if that “I can’t…” voice is still speaks to you, then its time to reckon with that roadblock.
Which brings me to my next point: a morning routine puts you in control of your day. When you have a morning routine, you’re basically performing self care. You’re getting your body and mind prepared for the day. It puts you in a proactive state of mind rather than a reactive one.
When you jump out of bed at a different time every morning and you’re scrambling to get your things together and stuff some kind of sustenance down your gullet, you are not mentally prepared for what kind of crap the day is about to throw at you.
When you have time to prepare and focus, when you do it in such a way that its routine, then your mind and body has a process for pulling itself together. You have taken care of yourself and done the things that are as essential to you as breathing, so that when the day does throw crap at you (and it will), your head is clear, your stomach is fed, you’re caffeinated, and your body and mind are in a routine to go about the day.
To outsiders it may seem boring and a bit rigid that you’re structuring your life around this routine, but its not boring when every day I make a little more progress on my fiction or when my meditation practice grows a little stronger or when the dust in my head clears. Its not boring when I get a little bit closer to the person I’m meant to be.
There was a period in my life when none of that progress was being made, and I was no closer to becoming that person than I was the day before or the year before. For a while, it was more comfortable to stay in that place than it was to change. I drifted along until I reached a point where the discomfort of staying in that place is greater than the discomfort of making the transformation.
There is a better way to live. There is always a better way to live. Spend an hour or so with yourself every morning becoming more like the person you already are.