Most people think I’m nuts for waking up at 4:30 every day and they ask me why I do it. Believe me, it’s not because I want to. I want to sleep. I LOVE my bed. It’s not because I automatically feel wide awake at 4:30am. And it’s not because I’m one of those psychos that naturally wants to jump out of bed before the sun comes up ready to jog to the gym. Uh, no.
I do it because I know what my life was like when I didn’t do my morning routine.
I spent most of my life believing that those weird early morning risers that went to the gym every morning are just wired that way. And I was NOT one of those people. They were “those other people”, and I wasn’t. I was wrong. “Those people” who are the same people at the gym every morning at 5:00 am just created a habit. Anyone can create any habit. If you haven’t read Atomic Habits, read it! I know my life is infinitely better in every way when I do my morning routine. So when I don’t want to get up and I press the snooze button, the next time it goes off, I just remember how I felt when I got out of my morning routine. I felt horrible. I felt tired. I felt foggy. Like there wasn’t enough coffee on this planet to get me going. I didn’t get as much done. I didn’t have as much patience. I wasn’t my best self. So I couldn’t be the best wife and mom.
So, when I remember that, I don’t go back to sleep, and I roll my legs over my bed and get my butt up because I know the power my morning routine has on my day, my marriage, my business, my kids, my energy, my mind, and my entire life.
Now, some people are true night owls, and they’re most productive at midnight. Not I, said the pig. I can’t keep my eyes open after 9pm. I know there’s no law that says you have to do a routine in the morning, and truthfully, a better evening routine would serve me well. But for me, growth begins in the morning.
So, back to the time when I WASN’T doing my routine…
John and I had got married in February of 2016. That summer we went on an INSANELY amazing Alaskan cruise. His then boss was also on the trip. They had putting all kinds of pressure on him all year, and he was feelin’ it. We closed on our new house a couple days after we got back, and two months later, he was politely notified at work that they were going to “make a change” and have him take over a shitty job within the same company. That’s French for “we want you to quit so we don’t have to fire you and then you won’t be able to sue us.” We decided that we’d had enough, we packed up his office, and he resigned. Now, the challenge was his non-compete clause. He went to several interviews and talked to dozens of potential jobs, but his contract made it impossible to work in Phoenix for a year. And he couldn’t work within 10 miles of any store they owned (they own a lot).
Right before Thanksgiving, he got a call from his good friend who ran a Dodge store in Tucson who wanted John to come down
and work with him. It was the perfect amount of miles away for John satisfy his non-compete, but 100 miles away from his house and his wife. It was a two-hour drive. It was awful. We just thought we could make the best of it. We rented him a little apartment, rented furniture, got a little TV with a Roku so he could watch Netflix. For nearly three months, we tried to convince ourselves that everything was going to be okay with John in a crappy little apartment Monday through Saturday, finally coming home Saturday night, only to leave again at the ass crack of dawn Monday morning and do it all over again. Every night during the week we’d FaceTime, cue up the same show on Netflix, and press play at the same time so we at least felt like we were together.
We were miserable. I’d drink too much wine while we watched Netflix, toss and turn sleeping alone, sleep through my alarm, skip the gym, get the kids to school, get through my day foggy and tired, go get the kids, make dinner, rinse, repeat. Day after day. I wasn’t focused on my personal development. I was focused on getting through the day. I had fallen into the same routines I had long ago when I was single (and unhealthy): Netflix. Wine. No gym. No self esteem. No goals. No growth.
When we first got together, I took over managing the finances so John wouldn’t have to. The first year or two, it was no big deal, but during this time between jobs, we had additional stress with ongoing legal battles with his ex-wife, I was stressed out beyond what I could handle. We were both struggling. Instead of waking up, writing down our wins, focusing on the positives, reminding ourselves of our goals, I felt bad about myself. I was sad. I was anxious. I was worried. I became even more sad. But I was holding it in. I didn’t want to cause him any more stress. He was going through enough.
I realized we had lost our routine and lost our way. Lucky for us, the last day of January in 2017, I got a call. He got fired. I said. “Thank God. Come home!” We didn’t have to move to Tucson. And he immediately got a great opportunity to run a Toyota store owned by a good friend of ours, and we get to work together at the same store. I even have an office there now! It all works out eventually, but as I look back on this period I’m starting to remember how difficult it was on us.
According to Forbes:
“Waking up earlier than usual will give you ample time to focus on your goals and conquer the day with more energy, mindfulness and strength.”
More energy, mindfulness and strength. Yes please.
I needed to get back into the habit.
And let me digress about habits for a sec. I don’t know where every got this notion that it takes 21 days to make a habit. It’s not true. Habits take consistency. A new behavior doesn’t become “automatic” until about 66 days (on average). Which means it take some people less, and some people a few months until a new behavior becomes automatic. I still don’t really love getting up every morning at 4:30am. I don’t let myself start all over again. I already know how much that sucks. Getting up and getting it all in before John goes to work sucks way less! I always feel like a million bucks leaving the gym.
So, how did I get back into my morning routine, and how can you get (back) into yours?
Just start. Take any action. One day at a time. The closer you get to that 66th day, the easier it gets. It’s not easy on week two, or
even week four, but it’s easier on week five than it is on week one. It’s easier on week eight that it is on week five! I always tell myself that the faster I can get to 66, the better, so it’s not so hard. But first, coffee. Then, we write in our planner/journal. This is what I write:
- Gratitude: I write down three specific things I am thankful for in my life. Gotta be specific. Yes, “another day” is a good start, but it makes a bigger impact when it’s something specific to your life right this second. When I focus on what we HAVE, I find more joy in everything. When I focus on what I don’t have or what I don’t like, I tend to find more of those things. All of us do this, whether or not you’re aware of it. But if we make ourselves aware of it and keep that focus on what we do have, we find more things to appreciate!
Change expectation for appreciation and the world changes for you. -Tony Robbins
2. Wins: I write down three wins from the day before. Sometimes we don’t even realize how many things we have accomplished and how many things are going really well in our daily life, unless we look for them and acknowledge them. I don’t know if you’re like me, but I have a tendency to focus on how my goals are NOT completed yet, and what I didn’t get done every day. But when I focus and write down the small wins every day, even if it’s just “We had family dinner,” I feel better! And in actuality, “having family dinner” is a goal of mine, that is a win, and I’m helping train my brain to focus on what is going RIGHT. This practice has made a huge impact on me
3. Quote of the day: I find something inspirational to focus on (my Instagram may be a good place to grab a few). I love quotes. I
think I may have a quote in every blog post I write, too. I like reading words of people smarter and wiser than me!
4. Self care: When I was single and I was focused on manifesting the relationship I’d always wanted, I realized that I needed to take care of THIS MAMA or I wouldn’t attract a man who took care of me. I had to practice self-care. I was intentional about it, and included this as a section in my Create Love Today Journal that you can purchase if you’d like! It’s beautiful and I’m really proud of it.
5. To-do list: I make my to do list and carry my planner with me everywhere so I can cross off what I accomplish throughout the day.
And then, we go to the gym. Y’know, it took me a long time to realize that working out wasn’t punishment for what I ate the day before. And it’s not about your weight or body shape or size. Working out changes your MIND. Taking action changes how you think and feel about yourself. I miss a few days here and there, and take a few days off here and there, but when I go back to my regular routine, I feel so much better. And we have to wake up at 4:30 to get everything in. It’s our alone time without the kids. Its our time to connect with each other before the crazy day begins. Even though we work in the same building every day now, it’s go time during work hours. It’s not couple time and intimacy time. That’s our morning routine. After we got back into this routine, eventually, I did have more energy and strength and mindfulness. I was more patient. I did feel better throughout the day, and I did feel better about myself. And so did John. And when we are healthier as individuals, we’re healthier as a couple. The only way
to have healthy relationships is to be healthy yourself. And when we practice this routine each morning, life changes.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and if you try any of these practices, please let me know how it’s going!
Wishing you lots of love!
To read more about my story, be sure to download my book “Becoming Mrs. Stanley. The Single Mom’s Guide to Creating the Life you Want.” My audio book just hit Audible. Or sign up below for my weekly newsletter.