Have you ever had a day that unfolded seamlessly, almost without any effort from your part? Like, you know, everything clicked into places, you arrived on time where you had to arrive, your coffee was just as hot as it needed to be and you finished each and every task you wanted to finish, just like that? It’s a nice feeling, isn’t it?
Now let’s move to the other end of the spectrum: have you ever had a day in which nothing, and I mean, nothing really worked? The coffee was cold, you were late at every meeting and, on top of that, you couldn’t finish any of the stuff that you planned to finish? Sucks, right?
Between these two extremes there’s a lot of space, a lot of mild and mixed action, and most of our days are here, somewhere in this “between”.
Nudging The Day Little By Little
But what if there is a way to nudge the day towards the “flow” side? What if there’s something so easy, so overlooked that you didn’t even think it’s possible, but able to dramatically change the unfolding of the events? Something that will inhibit more and more of the “bad luck”, “nothing works”, “bad day” stuff, while enabling more of a “it all just works” stuff?
Sit tight because I believe that kind of magic is possible.
It’s called “first thing in the morning”.
Our days are almost entirely shaped by the very first thing we do in the morning. It’s like we use that part to unconsciously “tune in”, just like we tune in a guitar. Once we experience the first note, we continue the day in the same octave.
If you take the time to journal for at least 30 days, you will start to see the correlation. If you just write down the exact sequence of activities, thoughts and things you do in the very first moments of the day, it will become more and more obvious.
For instance, let’s say you start the day moderately grumpy, because you didn’t sleep well. When you brush your teeth you feel a slight tooth ache and start thinking about your eternally postponed meeting with the dentist. As you try to find a spot in your busy agenda, you overcook your breakfast. It’s not badly overcooked, but enough to taste just “meh”. And because you are a bit late, your favorite coffee is rushed over by this new barista that was just hired at your preferred coffee shop.
Let’s rewind a bit. No, not to the breakfast, before. What was before? The dentist, right. Nope, before that. Hmm, brushing my teeth? Before, mate! Oh, I was grumpy because I couldn’t sleep well. Yeap, that’s it, let’s stop there for a while. That’s the very fist thing in your morning.
A bad sleep is a hard fact, you can’t pretend it didn’t happen But knowing how even the smallest early experience in the morning affects your entire day, you can try to counter this situation. Stay in bed 3-4 more minutes. Not more. Try to spend a little more time in the shower and, after that, if you know you’re gonna be late, try to call in and let your colleagues or boss know you’ll be half an hour late, or an hour, top. Good, you have some buffer now. So, start slowly and pay extra attention to everything that you do. Keep a close eye on that breakfast, and ask the barista to make your coffee 15 minutes later, after the queue of early commuters fades out, no rush. Be there, be present. Watch for problems and try to prevent. Be active, not reactive.
You may not change each and every aspect of your morning. Maybe the breakfast will still be a little undercooked and the coffee a bit too strong now.
But you changed something way more important: your attitude towards your day. You’re not on autopilot anymore. You pay attention. Worst case scenario, it will turn out to be a day in which you learned more than before. Best case scenario, it may turn out to be completely flipped and every potentially stressful experience will be debunked, annihilated even before it had a chance to exist.
All you need to do is a little more awareness in the very first moments of the day.
I know it’s not the best time of the day for you to try to be aware, but it’s this type of awareness that has a much bigger impact than the one you schedule in, for instance at a “meditation”, or yoga class. It’s this type of awareness that puts the right amount of pressure at the right time of the day, creating inflection points, switching the road in a different direction.
Like I said, it won’t happen all of a sudden. It’s a process. But if you stick to this habit, to just be aware at what you do and how you feel in the first moments of the day, it will slowly start to nudge all of your days towards an area of more possibilities, and less chaos.