6 Steps to Starting Your Day Out Right

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This sucks.

Ignore him. Keep writing.

Really? Ignore me? I’m the voice of reason. You can’t ignore the voice of reason.

Stop saying it that way?

What way?

Lowering your voice and trying to sound like the deep booming voice of God.

But, I am THE VOICE OF REASON!

Stop that. You are not the voice of reason; you are the voice of self-doubt and you’re starting to piss me off.

Fine. Fine. But, you need to start this over again from a different angle.

[type. type. type.]

I’m telling you, you’re just wasting your time with this article.

I’m almost done with it. Just a little more.

Great. “Just a little more” bad writing. Congratulations.

I’m just going to wrap it up.

Wrap it up and throw it away. You will not be happy when you’re finished.

There! Finished. Now stop complaining.

I will if you go back and read what you just wrote.

[reads it. sighs. deletes the whole thing.]

I told you.

Shut up.
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The above is the kind of conversation I have with myself often while I’m writing.

So let me try this again.

TAKE TWO!

When I started this blog, I promised myself I would sit down every morning and start the day off writing. It didn’t matter if I had no idea what I was going to write about, I was just going to sit down and start banging away at my keyboard until something clicked. It’s something I learned in a creative writing class I took a long, long time ago.

The objective was to keep your pencil moving for five minutes. The teacher didn’t care what you wrote about; I’m not even sure she read them after. But, you could NOT stop writing for a whole five minutes. If she saw your pencil stop, you failed the exercise. I remember writing something like:

“This is a dumb exercise. Why is she making us do this. I can’t write for five minutes straight. This is dumb. My hand is getting tired. This is dumb. This is dumb…”

I planned to repeat that sentence for the next four minutes and 45 seconds, but eventually something to write about would pop into my head that would stop me while writing, “This is du…” and I’d start telling a story or I’d just put one of the conversations always running through my mind down on paper. Teachers aren’t as stupid as I had once thought. They knew what they were doing.

And I’m happy to report that since making the pledge a month ago to write every day, that it is so far so good.

I mean the actual sitting down to write is good; I haven’t missed a day this month [pats himself on back]. The writing? Well, I won’t say that it’s good, but I will say it’s accomplished. And I don’t mean that in an “He’s an accomplished writer” kind of way. I mean it like “mission accomplished. It’s done. I do the writing every day and it gets done.” Hopefully after some time, the writing will improve.

Writing isn’t the first thing I do every day. But, it does come before my morning shower.  I find morning is when my brain is at its finest…which, I guess, really isn’t the best advertisement for my night lessons. I’m pretty much a zombie by then. But, don’t tell the students who come to my 8:00 or 9:00pm classes.

Actually since I started this blog, I’ve kept a pretty good morning ritual. The writing portion of my morning ritual started just a few weeks ago, but having a real morning ritual started last February.

Wow! One year ago.Congratulations to me. [another pat on back]

In January of 2016 in the space of one week, I heard a book mentioned from three totally unrelated sources: a friend, a podcast, and on a teacher’s forum. They all said the same thing: it really helped them a lot. After I heard about it for the third time on the podcast, I thought, “OK. OK, Mighty universe beating me over the head with a hammer, I can take a hint. I’ll read it.” So I downloaded it, read it in a day and was so excited, I started implementing it the next day. The book is called “Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod and I highly recommend it. Check online for it, read about it, and see if it’s for you.

I’m not trying to sell you on it or anything. I’m just telling you what worked for me. I haven’t read it for a year so I can’t tell you exactly what it says. I can’t even remember enough of it to paraphrase it for you here. What I can tell you is that he recommends starting your day off right.

No. Not with coffee and a dozen donuts. That is not what he means…or at least I don’t remember him saying exactly that.

What he is talking about is getting yourself into a rhythm and getting more accomplished before you leave home in the morning than you used to do all day. I’m going to have to go back to the notes I took when I read his book so I can get this next part right.

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WARNING: using notes that I took on something doesn’t necessarily guarantee I will be getting the facts straight. Just ask my old teachers. As a student, I had a very predictable academic process that went something like this:
     1. Listen to what the teacher says in class
     2. Write it down
     3. Study and memorize it
     4. Take the test on it.
     5. Get the graded test back
     6. Quickly hide the test paper in backpack before anyone could see the score.

Somewhere between steps 2 & 4 things broke down. So be warned. What follows next is from the notes I took on the book “Miracle Morning.” But, you should really read the book yourself if you want to get it right.

*Oops. Speaking of getting things wrong, after looking at my notes, I had to go back and edit what I had written here because I’d been calling it “Morning Miracle” instead of its real name, “Miracle Morning.” I think for the past year I’ve been calling it by the wrong name. Those are the kind of mistakes I’m always making. Proceed with caution.
****************************************

So anyway, Hal Elrod outlines a morning ritual to get your day started off right. He uses the acronym LIFE SAVERS. But, my notes say only the “savers” part of the word is acronymed. I’m not sure if he had some special meaning for “Life” or not. If he did, let me know. Anyway, the letters in “SAVERS” stand for:

Silence: meditate for at least five minutes every morning.
Affirmations: get a mantra and repeat it to yourself out loud and with feeling every day.
Visualize: Picture in your mind where you want to be and how you are going to get there.
Exercise: This one is pretty self-explanatory.
Read: not fiction. Read something that will help you grow. Learn something new (self-help books, biographies, how-to books, etc).
Scribe: Keep a journal

It is a great list and great advice and it’s a shame I didn’t follow it to the letter.

Wait! Is that where the idiom “to the letter” came from, acronyms? Or is that just a happy coincidence.

Anyway, at the beginning and for a short time I did follow the S-A-V-E-R-S plan to the letter, but one by one the letters fell out of my morning ritual until only the E remained, Exercise. I did and I still do yoga every morning (a story for another time). And one year later, I can say that I am in 100% better shape than I was at this time last year. Thank you Hal. I only wish I’d kept the SAVR_S in my morning routine too.

There’s a famous quote that gets passed around Facebook a lot and periodically finds itself on my feed that says, “In one year, you’re going to wish you had started today.” It is so true. I’m so happy I started exercising a year ago, but I’m equally disappointed I didn’t follow through on the rest. So this is my promise to myself (and to you too since you’re here). I am going to do all six letters this year.

Of course, this blog covers my obligation to the scribing part of S-A-V-E-R-S.
Now I have _ _ _ _ _ S.

At the same time I started this blog, I started Silence, too. By “silence” Hal means to meditate. Meditating is not easy for me. My mind is like a hyperactive puppy who just spent the morning eating bowl after bowl of Chocolate Covered Sugary Go-Go Rocket cereal with Red Bull poured on top; it jumps all over the place to see how many random places it can get to before I finally try to reel it in. My experience in meditation is worthy of its own post (I have just discovered after over an hour writing about it). So I won’t delve into it here. Suffice it to say that I have kept it up every morning so far.

Yeah, me!

OK. So I have the S_ _E_S down (Silence. Exercise. Scribe). Now I just need to fill in the blanks with the A, V, & the R.

Affirmations are easy to do and kind of fun once you get past the initial awkwardness of talking out loud to yourself so everyone:
1. hears you
2. wonders who the hell you are talking to
3. asks themselves why you are so passionate about the conversation your having, and
4. worries that you’ve gone off your meds again.

But if you don’t mind the weird looks you receive once you walk out of your room or wherever you were bellowing at yourself, then affirmations can be quite…quite…what’s the word I’m looking for?…affirming. For a breakdown on how to do them right, read “Miracle Morning” or go online and find one of the million other sites that talk about them.

OK. That is SA_E_S

Next letter is V for Visualization. This step is an exercise I feel I should really excel in. I have a crazy, vivid imagination so this is right up my alley. The only problem is that it’s supposed to be “focused” thinking.

FOCUSED thinking? Focused? As in concentrating on one thought for more than two seconds? Damn! There is always that one caveat thrown in to an otherwise perfect scenario, isn’t there?
     “Sure you can have one billion dollars…as soon as you swim to the other side of this alligator-infested swamp.”

In order for visualization to work, you are supposed to think about where you want to be and how you’re going to get there.
-You shouldn’t let thoughts of having a pet monkey disturb your concentration.

Think about your goals very clearly and be as specific as you can be.
-This is not the time to think about what you’re going to do about your neighbor who always seems to be outside your window while you are doing your affirmations.

Think about your goals as if you’ve already achieved them.
-Try to ignore any images that may pop into your head of beautiful women hurling their underwear at your rock star feet….did you leave your space heater on? That could burn down your whole house. If you did, did you leave a towel or something flammable in front of it?

And while thinking clearly about your goals as if they have already been accomplished, make sure you add the emotions you will feel once you have accomplished your goals: what body posture will you assume after your goals have been met? What thoughts will be running through your head? How proud will you be of yourself: actually feel those emotions. Sit how you would sit. Walk how you would walk. Now you are free to let your imagination go and think about the dream vacation you’ll take after your goals are met.
–Do NOT think about getting hit by a meteor.   

So visualization is still a work in progress for me. I am getting better at it though. It would be kind of cool to have a pet monkey though, wouldn’t it? I think that is a remnant of a  dream I had in childhood when BJ and the Bear was my favorite TV show.

SAVE_S

Almost done. The last missing letter is R for Read. This isn’t hard. I can do this. I’ve been reading since mom gave me “Hop on Pop” for my birthday a long, long time ago. I have many books I’ve purchased over the years that I’ve meant to get to; I have just never taken the time to bury myself in them…and I’m not just talking Dr. Seuss books either.

I love reading. In fact, one of my favorite times of the day is lunch because I have around two uninterrupted hours to myself to relax and read while I eat. Since that is my time to unwind, I usually stick to fiction. But, there are a lot of great non-fiction books out there that have many of the answers I am searching for if I would only sit down with them. So spending a few minutes every morning reading a chapter, a page, or even just a paragraph of a book that isn’t full of magic spells, spies, wars, mystery, romance, or violence might help me find some of those elusive answers.

S-A-V-E-R-S

That’s it.

Silence Affirmations Visualize Exercise Read Scribe

Done. I think Hal recommends spending 10-15 minutes on each one. Again, read his book and see for yourself. I can’t remember. The time I spend on each step varies from day to day. Scribing and exercising always take up most of my time. Those are the two I definitely won’t start my day without. But, a few mornings every week I have enough free time to devote more than just a couple minutes to the others as well.

To get through SAVERS, you are going to have to start setting your alarm to annoy you earlier every morning. But after awhile, you get used to the sunrise and I have found that when I get into the shower after all has been accomplished, I feel great; much better than if I had just rolled out of bed and gone straight to the bath.

So try one, two, or all of them for yourself and let me know what you think. And, if you do read the book, feel free to come back and correct every mistake I’ve made here. I’m used to it. I only wish I had a backpack I could stuff the corrections into before anyone else sees them.

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