Writing Memoir

On morning routines, goals and habits

on-morning-routines1

I’ve gotten good at consuming information on the web, of late, and I’m not sure if that is exactly something I should be proud of, but there it is. As a result, I’ve started to gain a clearer picture of what goals and habits mean to me. For months now, I’ve been trying to hone in on a better morning routine.

For years, I had the nearly perfect morning routine, but then my b/f and I moved in together and I could no longer do my JAPA meditations. This meditation involves repeating sounds like “OM” or “AUM” and frankly I’m not brave enough to make those sounds in front of anyone and you know how apartments are, not exactly sound-proof and with little to no privacy.

He’s also very different than me. He stays up late, takes naps and has his little idiosyncrasies and, yes, I know I have mine. Now, this is not to say that we don’t want to live together anymore, it’s just when you live with other people you have to make room for that other person: physically, spiritually, mentally. You have to learn to make it work and you figure out what is important.

Another challenge is I have a constantly changing work schedule and we moved 3 times since living in Chiang Rai. It’s actually been a hard year here, but that’s what happens sometimes and this is what makes my search for goals and habits that stick essential and hopefully, rewarding. I also want to use my time wisely and be a better person, the best I can be without being one of those super annoying people who does everything right. Ha!

Gretchen Rubin’s quote, “What we do everyday matters more than what we do once in a while” really sat with me and it’s been a bright reminder as far as forming habits are concerned. I think it’s easy for us to remember to do something good for ourselves like exercise, every once in a while and so her quote forces me to think, what is so important that I need to do it every day?

My first year away from home, in college, was the unhealthiest I had ever been. I was in theatre class when we were doing some warm-up exercises and I remember how much it hurt, yes hurt, to do arm circles and general stretches and I thought, Good god, I have got to get into exercise again because this is pathetic. So, over the years I have done all sorts of exercise routines and fails until I finally figured out what I love: yoga and walking/hiking.

When I live close to work, and I deliberately situate myself to be so, I walk.  Oh how I miss hiking and walking in parks, as Thailand (at least where I have lived) does not do parks. Yes, yes, Bangkok has Lumphini, but there is very little shade and it’s a hot frickin’ city. I’m amazed at city planners lack of observations, shade = cooler, no trees = hot, hot, hot. Concrete = hot, grass = not hot.  *rubs temples*

Ah, yes, so every morning I do two very important things, I do yoga and I write. I want to bring meditation back into the routine, but it’s not a priority right now. Meditation is something that I try to practice throughout the day and when your life is filled with interruptions (yeah, I tried getting up earlier than my partner, it doesn’t work) and unpredictable circumstances like invasive construction, setting aside 5-30 minutes of privacy doesn’t work. Maybe in the future, but not right now…meditation can be part of my walking or general waking moments and that’s fine by me. I’m not trying to kill myself.

A lot of advice on the web talked about how taking small steps, making small goals and starting out small is what helps habits to become long lasting. I’ve done New Year’s Resolutions, but I don’t anymore and the last time I gave myself a deadline or a goal, I ended up changing it and feeling rather crappy over it until my b/f talked some good sense at me. So, no more big grand goals, thank you. I think they can do more harm than good. (This is not to be confused with dreaming big.)

Instead, achievable habits like yoga and writing, even if all the yoga I can manage is a handful of sun salutations and all the writing I do is journaling in the morning. I return to Gretchen Rubin’s quote. The point is to do it. I think then building on it becomes an inevitability. And you are more likely to stick with whatever habit you want to form rather than taking a month off (oops) and then forgetting about it or doing it when you have time and then beating yourself up for not doing it more often.

Leo from Zen Habits wrote a really great article on failing faster at habits in order to figure out what works for you. He suggested just a 3 day check in! Doing something for 3 days and then evaluating the change to see how it worked for you. This is radically different than all those lofty goal-setting ideas. Three days is manageable, plus 3 days can be a long time in the world of making and breaking habits. I love it.

Although right now, my focus is to spend less time consuming on the Internet. Even when it’s not junk, I should be creating more. This is in line with wanting to use my time more wisely and to get crackin’ on the next big writing project. Specifically, I think I can do this by carving out time to do Internet stuff and not getting online when I’m writing; in other words, keeping creating and consuming time separate. This idea is a derivative of Leo’s manifesto “focus”.

I think it’s natural to go through binges though. I know I have those “I’m eating everything online” for a period and then I get into just writing and contemplating new ideas, too. But, for me I want to be able to recognize when I’m not in harmony or balance so I can get back on the right train track. I fear being mindless in front of my computer and I still find it weird that this is how we live and communicate.

Every day that I teach, I see how distracted my students are by the Internet. They are hunched over like old people. They cannot help themselves from reaching for their smart phones to check this or that. No matter how hard I try to keep them off their phones, they can’t help it. It’s their addiction. It’s their drug. I’m grateful for the students that can focus on the lesson and me and their classmates. It’s the way it should be, but we live in the age of ring tones, IM and games and more games.

It’s all about fighting urges, isn’t it? Briefly helping my b/f with his blog makes me want to go to my blog, but I’m reading a book. I stopped turning on my PC as soon as I get up in the morning. Yuck. I can’t be glued to the glow box before I have my coffee. I have to draw the invisible line somewhere. So, it’s only after I write in my notebook can I turn on my computer.

What is your morning routine? And your thoughts on goals and habits? Have you had much success?

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26 thoughts on “On morning routines, goals and habits

  1. So great! I’m in the middle of reading Rubin’s Better than Before, about habits, so I totally get you! I love how she talks about the habit of doing the habit is more important than the habit itself. So true. And true how big life changes are a good impetus for change. I have a big list of stuff I want to do my first week in Korea to instill as good habits, because I know that if I wait, they won’t stick.

    Great post! I hope you can find your perfect routine!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I hope that for you, too! I suppose the transistion time from here to there is not a good time to start a new routine?

      I feel like routines have held me in the past when my life changed dramatically. They were like comforting pillows that kept me from freaking out. Mainly meditation.

      I love how we like/read the same books 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. During work days I always have the same routine. Get up,walk to the kitchen, switch on th coffee machine, brush my teeth, take iPad coffee and a banana for the next 30min ans then prepare to go to work. I always need this half hour in the morning to get ready somehow. On weekends it’s the exact opposite. I sleep several hours longer and don’t need those 30min any longer 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, the ‘ol banana and coffee breakfast (it’s the best balance!). Yes, 30 mins to yourself before you go to work is the very least and very good of you to recognize that you need. I think a lot of people would just roll out of bed and get ready for work.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. During school time I just got up, took something to eat and left for home. Or during swimming camps we woke up few minutes before practice starts…not so good feeling 🙂

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  3. Very disciplined of you Lani to have a work routine. Nice and easy start to the day with writing and yoga. My morning routine is actually non-existent, and I blame it on the fact that I’m absolutely not a morning person. It’s usually wake up, rush to the toilet to get ready, grab my breakfast and out the door to catch the tram to work. I don’t even check my email or phone, just throw it into my bag. You can call it rushing, that would be very spot on. To me, my day starts when it’s about noon when I’m starting to feel awake. Writing what’s on my mind on a topic or journaling comes in the evening right after work, and from there it’s like a brand new day 😀

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    1. A true night owl! I’m slow to get up in the mornings, but my biggest pet peeve is feeling rushed. I can’t stand it. So I’d rather get up early and forgo sleep than run around trying to clear the fog from my mind.

      I’ve read that people have more willpower in the morning and that it peters off throughout the day, so you should get important stuff done first thing. But I guess that doesn’t apply to you! 😉

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      1. Honestly, sometimes the rushing wakes me up…but after sitting in the office chair for fifteen minutes, my body starts to droop…

        I would love to have a morning routine and start my day fresh. Sadly my body the opposite is better. I’m wired that way 🙂

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  4. This is a great post, a very timely reminder to be more mindful with my time!

    I am a big walker and yoga is necessary to keep me walking (poorly designed knees and hips and super strong, tight muscles). I used to stay up so late, but I was rewired to be an early riser. It’s hard getting up early, but I love quiet, cool walks in the morning. (The only time LA isn’t noisy.) It’s coffee, check email to make sure there’s no emergencies, then out the door with the dog before the sun rises. Then yoga, and either writing or work.

    But now, because I read your blog before yoga, I am inspired to go hit the mat rather than being distracted by the internet! Thanks for the post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 😀 Wow, thanks.

      You’re actually very disciplined to get up early and walk. It is the best time because it is cool and quiet. I miss walking in US cities/towns and neighborhoods. They are filled with sidewalk goodness! And feel safe and clean, too.

      Yeah, I feel like what ever you do to start your day signals what’s important to you. It would be good for me, actually to do some stretching in bed before I make coffee!

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  5. I always check my phone first thing in the morning and I think I should stop doing it! I should also do more exercise… But that would be in the evening as in the mornings I get up with just enough time for a shower and then I have to go to the office!

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    1. Well, you can check your phone first thing if that’s what’s important to you and if it’s part of your job (media). It’s really up to you 😀 You could try something new if you are up for it and see how it feels…

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  6. I want to start my day by doing yoga too, but I mostly fail at that. My bf wants breakfast right when he wakes up :P. And it is so hard to carve out some time during the day for yoga. I always get caught up in other things. I also sleep late and wake up late. I usually do my blogging very late at night. I agree that I need to stop spending so much time consuming and instead spend more time writing. I get distracted so easily. Sigh :/.

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  7. Well, last few months have been messy because of my injury recovery. Sooooo…normally my routine for last few years, was to wake up, fire up computer, boil water for tea and check my email. I do quickly check blog traffic. Breakfast (I never had that habit in my 20’s), then bike or walk to commuter train for a short 3 km. ride to work. I actually arrive at work deliberately over 40 min. early or more time, so that I can ease slowly into my work day. I go somewhere to buy a coffee, etc. before settling slowly into my work.

    I would dislike rushing in at 8:00 am and start at 8:10 am to work at office. To me that’s like crashing into stuff I have to do to earn money. I actually enjoy commuting to work shortly after 6:00 am..the traffic lighter, less crowds.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s such a great idea. I hate rushing, too and what a good way to beat the crowds. Yeah, when I worked in an office I was not one to arrive just in the nick of time. And let’s face it, when someone does, they ususally do other stuff before settling in.

      Hope you are recovering nicely, Jean!

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  8. I wake up (usually because Z is waking me up), make us both breakfast, and myself tea. Then I work out for a half hour while Z eats. Then I eat my breakfast, take a shower and get ready for the day. After that it changes each day, but every day I start with those things. 🙂 I love the three day evaluation. I think that is a great idea, often I feel like I am wasting time on new things that just aren’t working because I haven’t done it long enough, only to realize later that it would never work for me.

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    1. I love how you squeeze in time to work out while Z eats. I think that’s brilliant for mom’s, but I’m sure that couldn’t work with all mom’s and their children. But it shows that it’s important to you – and I agree, if I don’t get exercise done in the morning, the likelihood of it getting done at all drops down to zilch 😛

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      1. I am very lucky that Z is old enough now that she will give me the 30-40 minutes I need to work out every morning. Having only one child helps a lot as well… I assume it would be more difficult to do as you have more children. 🙂

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  9. My morning routine is mainly based around grudgingly getting ready for work, the consumption of rudimentary breakfast goods and ensuring my child is not dead.

    Oh and swearing, significant amounts of swearing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Yeah, I’ve been known to start the day with an expletive. Not proud, mind you. Just because I don’t want to get out of bed. I never want to get out of bed unless it’s to run to the loo, so that’s why I never hit the snooze button – prolonged agony.

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  10. The process of setting goals and forming the habits that help one actualize the goals, vary from person to person and we fail many times along the way. I enjoyed reading about your journey, especially how you made adjustments to accommodate your bf.

    For all the joy the internet brings in the form of information, it can become a distracting habit! When I’m ready to write, I switch off every device with a browser and/or notification alert! 🙂
    Don’t the kids get to put their phones away during lessons?

    I tend to be disciplined and do something each day that takes me in the direction of my goals. When I miss, I try to be kind to myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good for you. I think we’re alike in this way. I know when to ease up on myself and when to hit the gas. Although, I am unkind to myself from time to time when I put on too many lofty expectations on myself. I think that’s normal though, right?

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