I remember the first prayer I learned as a child:
Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
If I should die before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
My adult version of this is:
What was the single most important thing for me to do today in all four arenas?
Of these four, what was the ONE that was most important and generative.
Did I not do it? Why not, and what resources do I need to do better tomorrow?
Did I do it? If so, CELEBRATE!
I made the moving trip from Atlanta back to Los Angeles twice, with two different moving vans full o’stuff. Once for most of the households, and the second time for Tananarive’s piano and the rest of the goodies. It should have been grueling: thousands of miles of driving across alien landscapes through territory I didn’t enjoy.
But…I loved it. Why? Because the ultimate outcome was clear: I get to be back in Los Angeles. EVERYTHING else was just a means to that end. The emotional power drove every action, every mile.
I woke up every morning knowing just what I had to do that day: drive X miles. I didn’t know what adventures might come my way, what problems I might have to solve, what I would see or do. I knew I had miles to go before I slept.
Wake up. Morning ritual (who am I? What is true? What am I grateful for? What do I need to accomplish today?), while doing Tai Chi. Get a little writing done.
Eat. Drive. While on the road listen to audio books, daydream about writing, phone friends and family.
End of the day, find a place to sleep. Eat. Write. Tibetans. Look back over the day, journal what I’ve accomplished, note what I need to do the next day. Celebrate what I accomplished, and go to bed.
Wake up, repeat.
Those were great days. There was clarity, and purpose. Hard work, but EVERY SINGLE HOUR I could see myself drawing closer to my goal. So every hour had purpose. Every day had purpose. And life was good.
This is the power of the “Morning Ritual”. If you perform it properly YOU HAVE ALREADY WON. Within it you have:
- Basic physical exercise
- Emotional alignment
- Mental clarity on the “One Thing” you have to do today to move toward your long-term goals in all arenas.
Focus, emotional balance, and ENERGY to move forward. Clarity on the “one thing” you need to do. And at the end of the day, if you HAVEN’T done the “one thing” you can list what stopped you, and simply making that list is describing the internal territory of your life.
You have defined problems that need solving, and can then apply your intelligence (problem solving) to the right issues.
But if you HAVE done the most important “One Thing”? Celebrate. If you moved all FOUR forward? MAJOR celebration.
Get that? If you do this right, you can make EVERY day a victory in five minutes. And turn it into a major win in just twenty. By defining the minimum action you have to take: the one call. The single exercise. The single problem solved or clearly defined.
And if I am “too busy” or “too confused”? Then five one-minute “breathing breaks” during the day, visualizing my long term goals.
And if I don’t do that? Then I know my demons are devouring my life, and I have the smallest step to take: set my watch for a three-hour countdown, and take those breaks five times a day.
When I can do that? Begin to expand the first one into a full Morning Ritual. Use the last one for a Quick-Check of what I’ve accomplished.
Not a single day of my life has been so busy I didn’t have five minutes. Not one. And ANYONE reading this message who thinks they don’t have that time is lying to themselves. Period. You have time to be on Social Media? You have five minutes to connect your body-mind, and need to ask why you stand in your own way. Whose life is it, anyway?
Five minutes, sixty seconds at a time. Build to twenty minutes a day, incorporating emotions, mental focus and body-mind connection.
Journal at the end of the day: did you accomplish your FOUR IMPORANT THINGS? Your SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING? Yes? Celebrate.
NO? Define clearly the problem. Including those nasty voices in your head. WRITE DOWN THE NASTY THINGS THEY SAY TO YOU. Get them out of your head and on paper where you can see them. In fact, I remember one teacher who suggested you write them down AND BURN THEM.
Whatever you do, get your clarity about this single piece. Everything that destroys your entire life will first manifest on this micro-level. And it is hella better to engage with it five times a day than to do it once a year, when you make your New Years Resolutions.
That’s what it took driving from Atlanta to Los Angeles: about five times a day checking the map. Every morning knowing what had to be done. Every night checking in to be sure I’d done it.
That’s it. Other than that?
Drive, and enjoy the view.