To build on my previous blog post, I now share the six reasons why I have engaged in a regular morning practice for more than a decade.
1. Healthy Processing
Writing I do as part of my morning practice has been the ideal vehicle for externalizing and ultimately streamlining my thought process. I’ll write about events that have occurred and how I handled them; things people said to me and my reactions; and how I responded to situations. I’ll also write about my fears associated with taking a particular action during the coming day. This process helps clarify what I am thinking and reduce anxiety so I can move forward, and increases my ability to be present from moment to moment.
2. Self Check-In
I do a quick self check-in regarding my feelings every morning, identifying those that come up for what they are with neither shame nor remorse. I then consider what actions, if any, are necessary.
3. Observing Myself Doing Things Well and Noting Personal Progress
My morning practice also has become a place where I can counter my intense self-criticism by consciously catching myself doing things well. I accentuate positive components of a particular situation or in conjunction with completing a certain task (e.g., giving a speech), in the process striving to treat myself with lovingkindness while I fight off unrealistic and pressure-inducing tendencies. In short, I note achievements big and small I likely neglected to notice in the past plus any forward movement related to situations where I’ve been stalled.
4. Daily Planning
By processing what is going on in my mind and checking in with myself during my morning practice, I clear away myriad thoughts and gain the energy necessary to get on with my day. I thus can identify more clearly my priorities and what I need to do.
This processing and clearing inevitably yields additional items that I have to complete. With my calendar open in front of me, I can assign these tasks to the day and time when they need to be completed.
5. Goal Setting and Tracking
Every morning I ask whether how I use my time in general–and what I intend to spend my time on during the day ahead–is consistent with my desired self-image and what I say I want. My questions include: Where do I invest my time and resources? Do these expenditures best serve me? If so, can I employ them more efficiently or effectively? Can I pursue an activity in a more meaningful way so that my life is even better? If so, how? My responses help to clarify and track what I want in my life.
6. Study and Reflection
An invaluable approach to rooting out old ideas that no longer serve me has been to replace them with new ones. I acquire these ideas from a variety of sources on personal and professional development. A portion of my morning practice has been devoted to reviewing these sources to internalize their core lessons. My thinking has gradually changed as a result, and for the better.
I’ll delve into the details on tools and techniques I use in pursuit of these areas of activity in subsequent blog posts. In the meantime, I’d relish your feedback.