Morning Mastery for Authentic Leaders: Balanced Mornings = Balanced Days
How to Increase Balance and Have Less Hectic Days
(Update from the original post: March 2, 2020)
As a leader juggling numerous responsibilities, you likely find yourself trying to balance an endless task list, an overflowing email inbox, and the aspiration to be the parent you deeply wish to be.
I often see recurring themes among the leaders I work with: too much to do and not enough time to do it all. The demands seem to be ever-increasing, threatening to overwhelm anyone who dares to pause even for a moment.
I've been in that place too. My days used to be a blur:
- Hitting the snooze button on the alarm clock a few times, still feeling exhausted after a night's sleep.
- Rushing to prepare the kids for school after springing out of bed at the last minute.
- Frantically gathering everything I needed for the day.
- Slamming my travel mug into the coffee maker.
- Leaving the house like I was already behind for the day.
My day would invariably follow the same hectic pattern. I often ended the day wondering what I had actually accomplished, feeling stretched to my limits with stress, overwhelmed, and frazzled.
Is Stress trying to get your attention?
Then came my wake-up call. One evening, I lost sight in my left eye – thankfully, it was temporary, but the doctors said it was stress-induced. I knew I needed to make a change, and fast. That's when I began experimenting with my morning routine.
It started with a commitment to taking 15 extra minutes in the morning just for me. Initially, it was about enjoying a full cup of coffee before diving into the day which eventually led to additional morning mindfulness practices.
It took me at least six months to make this a consistent daily practice. However, I soon began to notice that the days I started with this intentional time flowed better. I was more efficient, calmer, and better prepared. My tasks and appointments were the same, but my stress was significantly reduced.
As I improved my mornings, I gained clarity on being more effective at work. My confidence soared, and I became clearer about what I wanted from life.
These quiet mornings created a moment of space for me to acknowledge I needed to change some larger things in my life. I sensed it was time for me to leave a job I'd overstayed. The seeds that grew from my morning mindful practice eventually blossomed into flowers of change and a career transition that rejuvenated my energy and excitement.
Today, my mornings are still a vital part of my day. A quality morning anchors peace, joy, and centeredness in my day. My morning mindful practices have shifted and evolved with the seasons of life. No doubt yours will too.
3 Practices to invite balance into your morning and your day
Would you like to gain more control over your day, rather than letting it control you?
Here are three practices I’ve used over the years to start my day strong:
Try a few minutes of mindful silence. Listen to your breath, perhaps taking a few deeper breaths to signal to your nervous system that all is well. There are many great apps, like Headspace and Insight Timer, that can guide you into moments of mindfulness any time of day.
Follow your moments of silence with positive affirmations. Craft these to focus you on the right things from the start of your day. These statements can encompass every aspect of your life – from parenting and relationships to your job and finances. The best affirmations are positive and believable, and draw you towards what you desire.
For more on crafting effective affirmations, check out my book "Confidence Unchained," which dedicates a section to creating life-changing affirmations.
Use the last few minutes of your morning practice for journaling. It’s a powerful way to reconnect with yourself. Here are two simple journaling techniques to try:
- Freewriting: Set a timer for 5 minutes and write whatever comes to mind. This method is excellent for releasing and organizing thoughts.
- Gratitude: Take a few moments to write down what you’re grateful for today.
I challenge you to explore how your day can unfold differently. Commit to consistently starting your day in a new way and observe the shifts.
Slow Down to Speed Up
It may seem counterintuitive – if I slow down, won’t I fall behind? That’s what our minds and culture often suggest. But life isn’t a race; it’s a journey. There’s a richness in moving a little slower, more intentionally.
Give it a try and let me know your experiences. I’d love to hear how this shift impacts your balance and stress.
Vicki Haddock is an author, professional leadership coach, and inspirer of others to live their best thriving lives! Ready to dive in deeper but not sure where to start? Consider Registering for the Self-Checkin that Vicki hosts quarterly or grabbing a copy of her book Confidence Unchained!