Every day you have a chance to decide how you’ll face the day. Unfortunately, most of us don’t make a deliberate decision to start our days off right, but rather leave it up to habit or chance. We allow our emotions of the moment and our sometimes depleted energy reserves to take the wheel. And guess where that combination will take you? Not where you want to go!
The simple truth is that how you start your day will determine how you live that day. When you don’t take the time to ensure that your day is getting off to a great start, you’ll find it hard to give your best effort throughout the day. You simply won’t be equipped to handle the challenges you face. And, because you weren’t prepared, you suffer.
Moreover, how you live each day is how you’ll live your life. String one bad day after another after another, and you’ll find yourself irritable, unsatisfied, and downright miserable. It’s not a pretty picture.
Don’t leave your happiness to chance. When you take charge of how you start your day, everything in your life changes for the better.
How to Start Your Day Off Right
If you want to live a happy, fulfilling, and successful life, you must take control of how you begin each day.
Here’s the secret: starting your day off right has very little to do with the circumstances in your life and everything to do with your attitude towards your life, your clarity about what you really want, and your commitment to being the “best you” possible each and every day.
Below is a 5-step process for starting each day that will make a HUGE difference in your life.
You might be wondering, “How long will these steps take?” Don’t worry. You can do as little or as much as you want. The trick is starting out your day in a way that works for you.
When I first started this, I wasn’t willing to give this more than about 15 minutes. So, if that’s what you’re willing to start with, start there. In time, you may find that you want to devote more time to this practice (I did.). But just do what you can for now. Following ANY of these steps for ANY length of time in the morning will help.
1. Choose Happiness. Choose to Enjoy Your Life!
This step takes mere moments, but it’s incredibly powerful. Truth is, I not only take this step first thing in the morning, but I also repeat it multiple times throughout the day because I never want to forget how I want to live my life.
I WANT to live a happy life. I WANT to enjoy my life. But – and this point is very important – “want” is not enough; I must CHOOSE to make this happen. So I make a deliberate choice by speaking this simple mantra:
“I choose to be happy. I choose to enjoy my life.”
If you don’t do any of the other steps, do this one. Your choices determine the quality of your life. Choosing happiness … choosing to enjoy your life has great power. Every time you speak these words you are planting seeds that will grow and grow and help you live the life you really want.
2. Nourish Your Soul
There are many ways to nourish your soul, and since our beliefs vary so greatly, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution. Here are four of my favorites … choose the option(s) that resonate with you:
It’s often said that being grateful for our current blessings is the way to receive more blessings. I think that’s true, but I don’t express gratitude just to get more. This isn’t some deal I’m trying to strike with the “giver of blessings.”
Recognizing our current blessings is key to understanding just how blessed we already are. If our life shows us anything it’s that blessings are always entering our life … though we must be attentive to see them. Taking time to recognize and be thankful for the blessings of yesterday, today and those yet to come is a way to understand that we’re already living in abundance.
To ensure you get your day off right, begin it with an attitude of gratitude!
Our lives are so busy. Demands on our time are never-ending. Information is flying at us non-stop. Technology has taken over … you may even be reading this on a computer or a tablet right now. It’s great and it’s also not so great. Our souls are craving to be heard and nourished. Spending time in silence has soothing properties that bring more peace and contentment into our lives. Plus, it is in stillness that we’re able to receive answers to the questions that are troubling us.
While there are many ways to meditate (just search “meditation” on YouTube for ideas), I usually keep my meditations pretty simple. I put on some soothing music (I personally like instrumentals or Gregorian chants), close my eyes, and turn my attention away from my mind and towards my breathing. My goal is to silence the inner chatter and remain in peace. When thoughts come (and do come), I just imagine them to be clouds in an otherwise blue sky, and let them drift off rather than engaging with them. Quieting the mind takes some practice. Be kind and gentle to yourself as you begin your meditation practice.
Meditation can be helpful whether you do it for 2 minutes or 20 minutes or more.
This may or may not be a choice for you, depending on your spiritual beliefs. I personally believe in a Higher Power and I choose to call that presence God … you may choose another name for it.
I used to pray to God much like a person making a shopping list: I’d make a detailed accounting of all I wanted and give specific directions for how I wanted it to show up in my life. Some days I’d ask for my wish list … others days I’d plead for it in desperation. I obsessed over the “mountains” I faced in my life, rather than focusing on the unlimited power of the Divine for whom my mountains were less than molehills.
Frankly, I don’t believe there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to pray: our Creator is quite generous in allowing us to be ourselves. Today, the way I try to lead my prayer life goes like this: I choose to focus on my hopes and give thanks that my needs will be met. I seek wisdom, peace, love, and the opportunity to be a blessing to others. Sometimes I’m still specific on what help I need (help with debts … help with working with others, etc.).
Frankly, I know I don’t need to give this list … God is God, after all, He knows what I’m facing. Then, I surrender the outcome to the Source who knows what’s best for me. I accept that God is leading me and providing for me, and trust His plans for my life are far better than the plans I have for myself.
3. Focus Your Mind on What Matters Most
As Ben Stein said, “The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: decide what you want.”
You’ve got to get clear on “what matters most” by asking yourself the following questions:
o What’s your vision for your life? What do you really want?
o What are the values that are most important to you?
o How do you want to “feel” about yourself and your life?
Give these questions more than a mere glance. This is NOT an exercise you do each morning, rather, this is foundational work you’ll do before you incorporate it into your morning ritual.
Focusing your mind on what matters most to you will not happen by accident. You need tools to stay the course. A few tools I suggest include:
Create a Vision Board
Place pictures and words on the board that convey what you want, what’s most important to you, and how you want to feel. In short, it’s a visual of what you want your life to look and feel like. Place this vision board in a prominent place you’ll see every single morning (and every evening, too!).
Create Reminders that You’ll See Often
It’s helpful to surround yourself with visual reminders of what you want and what matters most for you. For example, your family might top your list for what matters most – so have pictures of them around you when you’re not around them. Don’t just place these pictures on your desk and ignore them … they aren’t dust-collecting decorations. Use these photos to mentally anchor just how important these people are to you. Make sure that each time you glance at your pictures, you remind yourself what (who) matters most to you.
Other examples: if you’re living in an apartment and hope to buy a house one day, buy yourself an inexpensive lawn tool you don’t need now but will need for your new house. If you dream of marrying a loving soul mate, buy a 25th (or go for 50th!) wedding anniversary picture frame and place it on your bedside table. If your goal is to one day live near the ocean, place some sand and a few shells in a container you’ll see often. You get the idea. Just find a symbol for what you want and make sure you see it often.
Create a Collection of Favorite Inspirational Quotes
Words are powerful motivators. If certain quotes speak to you and what you want or how you want to live your life, write them down and post them around your world (on mirrors, in the car, at work, etc.). Keep your thoughts focused on anything that will continue to lift you up. If you’d like to keep a steady stream of inspirational quotes flowing into your life, be sure to join the Believe and Create Facebook community at www.Facebook.com/believeandcreatecommunity where you’ll be treated to uplifting messages each day.
Practice Affirmations that Affirm What You Want
If you’ve never heard of Louise Hay, go out right now and get her book You Can Heal Your Life. She’ll teach you all about the power of affirmations.
Simply put, affirmations are a tool you can use to help you keep “positive” thoughts in your mind. They’re “seeds” you plant that have great power to create your reality.
You’re actually already doing affirmations, but the affirmations you might be doing now could be affirming what you DON’T want in your life, rather than what you do want.
For example, saying “There’s never enough money to do what I want to do” could be keeping your mind focused on lack instead of abundance. Replace that statement with, “The money I need to do what I want is flowing into my life. I live in a constant state of blessing and abundance.”
Another example: replace “I’m so tired all the time” with “I have all the energy I need to do whatever I want.” Can you see how the first statement leaves your feeling drained while the second statement helps you feel invigorated?
We tend to attract into our lives what we think about. Affirmations are a way to replace undesirable, worrisome thoughts with desirable, uplifting ones.
Affirmations are not magic incantations. Words alone will not be enough to change your life. If you say “I am a multi-millionaire” and you never do anything to create that wealth, then you better hold off on spending that dough as it probably won’t ever arrive. Still, imagining something for your life is the first step to achieving it. It’s not the only step – you’ll have to put in some action – but it is a great start. One that you simply can’t afford to skip.
You Have a Clear Picture of What You Want; Don’t Lose Sight of that Vision
Okay, so you’ve done your homework on what you want … what’s most important to you … and how you want to feel. From now on each morning you’ll recite what you want. Like a compass pointed north, you’ll set your focus to true north for your life.
Make no mistake: You must start each day focused on what matters most to you, otherwise you’ll drift off course. The step of setting your focus is absolutely critical to living the life you’ve imagined.
By the way: creating your vision is not something you do once and then you’re done. You’ll need to update it regularly. I suggest going through the What Matters Most question process at least 2 to 4 times each year.
“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” ~ Napoleon Hill
4. Super-Charge Your Energy
You may have been dreading this one, but you knew it was going to be on the list. We’re going to talk about both exercise and your daily diet. Yes, to get your day off to a super-great start, you must give your body the nutritious fuel it needs and the physical movement it craves.
Exercise in the Morning
There’s simply no better way to get your energy up in the morning than by moving your body. It doesn’t matter what you do: stretching, yoga, running, walking, pilates, dancing, lifting weights, Zumba, home exercise DVDs, etc. What matters is that you get your physical energy flowing.
Even if you’re only willing to give it 5 minutes … then by all means, give it 5 minutes. Eventually, you’ll want to aim for at least 30 minutes, but you don’t have to get there overnight.
Hey, if you’re not a morning person, again, I can relate! I still don’t consider myself a morning person, either. I used to say “I can’t exercise in the morning,” but that was a lie. The truth was I was not willing to exercise in the morning. When I opened myself to saying “I’m willing to try to exercise a little in the morning,” it changed my life.
Moving your body is a phenomenal way to generate the energy you’ll need for your day. You may not feel like doing it at first, but once you get going, you’ll be glad you did.
Nutrition – Watch What You’re Eating for Breakfast
Throughout my teens and twenties, I skipped breakfast. And you know what that set me up for? Nothing good, I can assure you that. When your body wakes up, it needs food. Not just any food, but nutrient-rich food. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for a day packed with lethargy, poor focus, and weak energy.
Know what I’d like to eat for breakfast? Donuts. Or a giant plate of bacon. Do you know what the worst thing to eat for breakfast is? High sugar, high-fat crap … aka, donuts and bacon (to list but a few of the not-so-healthy things out there to eat).
There comes a time in your life when you need to decide whether you’re going to give into the “want” of the moment or act according to what you want most in life. Starting your day with a nutritious breakfast of lean protein and complex carbs plus some good fat is a way to give yourself the fuel you’ll need all day long.
5. Commit to Being Your Best “YOU” Every Day
Now that you’re clear on what you want in your life, it’s time to commit to going after and getting what truly matters to you.
If you’ve done all your homework, your focus is now crystal clear. You now must find a way to remind yourself of what matters most to you each and every day. You can’t just hope to remember what you’ve uncovered as most important for you. The challenges of the day will threaten to throw you off track if you’re not careful … perhaps WAY off track. You’ll never live your best life if you’re not committed to focusing on the things that matter most to you. So recommit to your life vision every single day.