''Either you run the day or the day runs you'' Jim Rohn
I'll admit it. I'm not a morning person. I LOVE to sleep. I'm partial to a cheeky afternoon nap and even when I have a particularly busy schedule I'll kid myself into 'Meditation', only to fall asleep and awaken some time later to the sound of relaxing music and dribble on my chin. How cunning my mind is. Tricking me into napping. I'll be honest, sometimes I don't put up too much of a fight. Despite my love I sleep, it's important to me that I'm on top of my game: mentally and physically. Coaching and tutoring are both mentally tough. I noticed that the days when I lie in and begin work, I struggle to remain on task and to feel motivated. Interestingly, despite not being an early bird, it is the days that I rise earlier when I feel most productive and driven.
So over the last few months, I've been researching the sleep patterns and routines of Super Successful people. It's been an interesting journey and today I'd like to share what I've discovered and what has been successful for me.
One thing that I have discovered is that Super Successful people have certain habits that they practice daily, these are often referred to as 'Rituals'. I love the use of the word of Rituals as it conjures up images of religious and spiritual practices. To me, this just shows how sacred and important these habits become to those who practice them. So what are these Rituals?
Exercise: Movement first thing in the morning is a powerful way to start the day as it gets energy moving around the body. I've been practicing Yoga every morning, only for 10 minutes each time but it's made a significant difference to my strength, balance and stress levels. Walking, weights or even just simple stretching are alternatives to Yoga.
Silence: Sitting and just being. How often do we do this? In a world that is so busy, where we are constantly being stimulated with lights and noises, just sitting and listening to the sound of your heartbeat and breath is so calming. I recommend checking out 'Take 10', a free meditation App which explains that concept and numerous benefits of meditation.
Reading: I, like many people, love to read but many of us don't make time for it. Reading soon after you wake, even for a few minutes, is a great way to become inspired and to learn something new.
Writing: Putting pen to paper is something I've really enjoyed making a part of my morning routine. You can write about anything: Set your goals for the day, writing a gratitude list or getting your worries and problems out of your head. There is a certain therapeutic element to writing, something about self-expression which I find extremely calming.
Affirmations: There is a lot of mixed views on the effectiveness of Affirmations. Affirmations are where you read out loud positive statements about yourself, for example: 'Today is a great day to achieve my goals' or 'I am confident, happy and wealthy'. Personally, I don't rave about affirmations and prefer to ask a powerful question similar to an affirmation, such as 'Why is today a great day to achieve my goals'? or 'Why do I choose to be confident, happy and wealthy'? It's not about finding an answer instantly, for me it's more about raising my level of awareness and exploring all the possible reasons why for example, today is a great day to achieve my goals.
Visualization: Perhaps my most favorite of the Rituals is Visualisation. This can happen unguided, simply by imagining your goals or future life situation. For example, if your goal is to become healthier your visualization would be seeing yourself enjoying eating healthier foods, cooking meals or fitting into small size jeans. It's important here to really connect with how achieving your goal will FEEL. You can do this by making the visualization more vivid, enhance the image in your mind by making it bigger, make the colors brighter and add your other senses. Visualization can also be achieved through looking at your Mood board and spending a moment visualizing and feeling each aspect of the board. Youtube has many guided visualizations which I really like, my favorite is a visualization where you imagine meeting your future self who is visiting from 5 years in the future.
Gratitude: This is the state that keeps coming up whether in a book by the Dalai Lama, Robin Sharma or Tony Robins. Gratitude is extremely powerful, it's impossible to feel grateful and a negative emotion (jealous or angry) at the same time. By practicing gratitude you are focusing on all the gifts in your life, this means that you begin to habitually notice the little things and feel gratitude. Personally, I like to practice Gratitude before I sleep by thinking of three things that I am grateful for that day. It's easy to reflect on the day and dwell on what didn't get done or what didn't go as well as planned. By finishing each day with gratitude you fall asleep in a much more calming state compared to frustration, worry or disappointment.
In terms of how long we should be sleeping each night, there is a lot of debate. Some people will suggest 6 hours where as some will insist on at least 8 hours. Each individual is different, experiment with different lengths of sleep and wake up times and you'll soon discover what works best for you. So, instead of falling out of bed late and running around like a headless chicken trying to take control of the day, why not introduce some of the rituals I have mentioned and see what impact they have on your day?
And if you have the chance, always nap. Just don't over do it.
Have fun :) Will
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