For me, the definition of a successful day is simple. It means that I have sustained mental energy to tackle both good and evil. It also means that I keep regret and anxiety to a minimum. I neither dwell on the past, which I can’t change, nor focus on the future that will end up nothing like I can possibly predict. Recently, I have noticed a success pattern. Those days start out the same way: Consciously.
Here’s my current start-the-day-right process:
A) I get up early at 5:30 a.m. Sometimes it’s 6 a.m. I’ve tried every time between 4 a.m. and right before my kids get up at 6:30 a.m. I need at least 7 hours sleep and can’t seem to get to bed before 10:30 p.m. so 5:30 a.m. is the default sweet spot.
B) I then read for an hour. I read mostly non-fiction. Right now I am reading the epic biography of Andrew Carnegie (which will undoubtedly end up being reviewed on my Friday Four Newsletter). There is so much to learn through history. Why reinvent the wheel? There are thousands on mentors sitting on bookshelves if we are willing to make the time to dedicate to deliberate reading. Tip: Find the environment where you can relax and focus on reading. I love laying on my living room couch, in the dark, reading my Kindle.
C) I then journal. I free write. I don’t edit myself and I focus on my feelings. It’s a mental cleanse.
D) I meditate for 15 minutes. I use the Headspace app. At its core, meditation reminds me how ridiculous the voices in my head are. They are consistently feeding me bullshit and talking out of turn. Meditation is their timeout. They are bad kids.
E) No email before completing the above, and I’m good and ready to deal with other people’s issues. I can’t control when someone sends me something, but I can control when I read it. I have written before about how I now have turned off email after 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and then from Friday 6 p.m. until I’m mentally ready to deal with drama on Monday morning. I have found it incredibly liberating to not be tied down to other people’s information schedule. Interestingly, I have had quite a few conversations with friends about this and most can’t imagine not checking email right before bed and as soon as they wake up. I used to be like this. I would brace myself multiple times a day as I waited for some bad news to pop up in a subject line. But there’s rarely a true emergency in life. It can all wait.
When I don’t stick to this process, I feel out of sorts. Just today I derailed. I woke up late at 6:10 a.m., only read for 30 minutes, hopped on Facebook (the great distractor), and forgot to journal. I’m playing catch up already…
Stick to the process. What’s your definition of a successful day and how do you best ensure it happens?
Respond to James’ question here, and your answer could be reposted on EO’s social media channels!