Have you ever woken up to the sounds of birds singing outside? You get up, walk to the kitchen, cook yourself an omelet and drink your favorite cup of coffee while you catch up on your RSS feed. Breakfast is perfect and the blogs are right on. — just what you needed to read. You go to work and accomplish everything on your to-do list. You have the exact perfect conversations and to top it off, your colleagues surprise you with freshly-baked cookies just because they love what you’re doing. Lucky day, right?
Maybe that isn’t you at all. Maybe you don’t have a ritual. Maybe you started off waking to find your clock blinking 12:00 AM. The power must have gone off in the night, and when you look at your phone or your watch, you realize you have just enough time to throw on clothes and head off to work. You throw on that outfit, hit the kitchen to pour a quick bowl of Fruit Loops, but the milk doesn’t even land enough for the bottom of the bowl to get wet. You throw the bowl in the sink and get in your car. 10 minutes to go before you’re late for your job that’s a half-hour away. But, as you ignite the car, you realize your car is on empty. You stop at the Flexi-Fuel and pour gasoline in before realizing you spent your last five dollars on curly fries the night before. When you get to work, your boss calls you in on account of your lateness, and there’s a client waiting at your desk ready to eat you alive because of a mistake the mail room guy made two weeks ago. A basket of fresh baked cookies would be nice, so you order a basket of chocolate chips, but when they get there, they’re pecan sandies and you’re deathly allergic to pecans. Bad luck, right?
Chances are, you have more run-ins with one of these types of days than the other. Did you know those work smiles or frowns had little to do with your car, your eggs, or your job, and they had nothing to do with luck.
Your Waking Attitude Sets the Tone of the Day
I have to admit, this is a tough lesson for me, and it’s likely a tough lesson for you, too. But that first hour of the day is so vital to your experience and so vital to your productivity because it establishes your attitude for the day. If you think that’s nonsense, ask yourself why it seems that if you “wake up on the wrong side of the bed,” your whole day seems to spiral out of control. Or why is it that when you wake up with the songbirds, you are far more productive throughout the day?
Your Attitude Affects the Autopilot of Your Thoughts
When you awake in the morning, your thoughts are naturally more uncompressed, more free-flowing, and more experimental. In stand-up comedy, successful comedians are encouraged to keep a notepad next to their bed and write down the first thoughts that pop into their heads because these are the most creative thoughts of their day. The funniness can build on these thoughts later. This is why when you have a problem, you’re advised to “sleep on it.” You wake with more clarity and focus.
If you do it right.
Most people don’t. They get up and don’t really want to (and again, this has been a struggle for me as I have never considered myself a morning person).
Here’s the thing: when you awake, your conscious mind (thoughts you control) and your subconscious mind (thoughts you don’t control) are more in sync with each other than any other part of the day. If you wake up and get out of bed and step on a dog toy that sends pain to your brain and you curse the dog, you’ve just sent a message to your subconscious mind that your dog is pathetic, and you’ve sent it at the strongest part of the day. This, in turn, sets the stage for the rest of your subconscious thoughts. According to your very nature, your subconscious thoughts must be consistent with each other. This makes or breaks the flow of autopilot thoughts you have.
Give Yourself Time to Think in the Morning
The good news is that you can change the flow of your subconscious and therefore, change your perception on your day. It can be done anytime throughout the day by changing your attitude, but it is never as easy to do this as it is in the early morning.
Try this: Want to increase your chances of having a good, productive day? Don’t just jump out of bed and step on that dog toy. Instead, give yourself a few minutes to map out the day in your mind. Before you ever get out of bed, open your eyes and organize your thoughts for the day. Think about what you need to do to get things done. Even better, make a list of these things the night before, then contemplate them again in the morning. If you have young kids (like me) who wake you up in ungodly hours, set your alarm to go off ten minutes earlier than they usually wake up. Getting those thoughts together before you ever begin your day will help you to think with clarity and more focus.
(Image courtesy of Vince Alongi under a Creative Commons 2.0 Attribution generic license.)
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