With over 80% of New Year resolutions failing, according to US News & World Report, a lot of new year resolutions will fail again this year (2021), but yours doesn’t have to be one of them. Throughout my years in the Army and my time in politics and leadership circles, I have found some of the reasons why most people find it difficult to accomplish their new year resolutions or achieve their goals in many other areas. Many simply struggle to get started, I found out that on days when I manage to get started, I tend to get a lot done. When I’m slow out of the gates, the day is often a loss.
So, about a year ago, early 2020, to be precise, I made a new year resolution to fix the start of my day. Now, if you’ve been following my writing for a while, I often tell anybody with new plans to always figure out a way to get started with anything they do before they start thinking about new plans. And that’s exactly what I did!
Setting My New Year Resolution: Getting Started!
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”
– Mark Twain
Around this time last year, I made a commitment to fix the start of my day.
I’d read about how this can help boost productivity and efficiency and help set your goals in motion. As it turned out, I was able to stick to this commitment for 365 days or 400, whatever 2020 has been. I made a post about this on LinkedIn. Check it out here.
I got inspiration from Tim Ferriss’ morning routine as well as from some other folks. I adapted these to create my personal morning routine. Fortunately, this helped me get off to a great start every day, throughout the past year. I did it, and here’s how;
How I accomplished my new year resolution
I’ve always been a big fan of new year’s resolutions. If there’s a better time to make a fresh start, the turn of the year is no doubt one of the best times. Creating resolutions is very easy, however accomplishing your set goals is much harder to accomplish, it requires a great deal of discipline and dedication.
My main resolution was to fix the start of my day. It’s always important to be specific and restrictive with your new year goals. This will help ensure you don’t lose track of what’s important, it’s important to avoid trying to do too much at once. At most, I suggest limiting yourself to two additional secondary resolutions to pursue alongside the main one. My next tip is to either turn your resolution into a habit or develop habits that will empower you to accomplish your set goals. I shared these views already in a YouTube video.
Here are a few lessons from my experience;
Accomplishing a simple task to start your day strong
“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed”
Admiral William McRaven
Like Admiral McRaven, I also believe that how you start your day is important. To achieve my 2020 goal of having a fixed routine, I commit to waking up early– the earlier, the better. I consider this an accomplishment in and of itself, and it makes me feel good.
I challenge you too to try something similar to this. It’s how Benjamin Franklin started his day at 5 am and it’s what helps Stephen King get into the rhythm for writing. For me, it’s merely getting out of bed early. For you, it could be making your bed or just about anything you could do to help build momentum at the start of every new day.
2. Guided morning meditation to connect you with your mind
Meditation is one of those things I wish I’d found earlier, I did find it early but ignored it for forty plus years. I started morning meditation in the past year and now I’m a strong believer in the idea of controlling the mind, much like any muscle in the body. It helps me release stress or anxiety and better connect with my thoughts before I start making the day’s decisions.
I also found that morning meditation gives me a kind of mood boost that positively impacts my productivity throughout the day.
Carving a space for mindfulness in the first hours of your day is highly beneficial. But that is not as to say that this is without struggles as starting this practice was not easy for me. I found an app called Calm to be helpful. You could try it or similar apps if you’re struggling to start this practice or find any way you deem fit to incorporate meditation or prayer or thoughtfulness to start your day off on the right foot. Investing anything from five minutes and beyond works fine.
3. Early morning stretches and exercise to connect you with your body
While meditation helps me connect with my mind, morning exercises help me get my energy level up. I try to accomplish a repetition of five or ten movements or exercise or anything along those lines. It could be sit-ups, pushups, or anything to get your blood flowing.
You really don’t have to push your body hard. Sean Vigue’s 12-minute morning stretch routine is a great place to get started. This works even now that I’m getting older and not quite the young athlete I used to be. The process helps make sure every joint, every muscle, every bit of my skeletal system and muscles, get some kind of an early morning stretch. The benefits are as mental as they are physical.
According to research early morning exercises can help boost productivity. It can help reduce stress, boost your metabolism, and increase sleep quality. In the same vein, studies have shown
that people who exercise in the morning are more likely to adhere to their routine because their willpower is stronger during this period and the pressure of the day hasn’t yet accumulated by then.
4. Morning cocktail to help you own the day
Tim Ferris calls his morning drink the titanium tea.
I prefer to combine this idea of a morning cocktail with intermittent fasting and a good morning coffee, which in this case is Bullet Coffee. This might come across as crazy but it’s just you making your normal coffee and then adding a spoonful of coconut or MCT oil, a tablespoon of butter, and adding some heavy cream into the mix.
- This morning drink gives me the energy needed to not need a traditional breakfast along with some very good oils the body still needs. You’ll get a kind of ‘pick me up’ to power your mornings.
- Another dietary and health benefit here is how the drink can take you from dinner till lunch, a whole 18 hours of fasting that new studies reveal could help you live longer and healthier!
5. Journaling/writing for gratitude and reflection
Finally, I combine the idea of writing and journaling with another form of gratitude. This part of my routine helps me take my worries out of my brain, put it on paper, and then use this as a chance for reflection and gratitude. Not only do I do this every morning, but it’s also one of the last things I try do at the end of every day.
Sometimes, I use the opportunity to pen an old-fashioned snail mail letter to a friend, colleague, co-worker, or my family; sharing how grateful I am to work with them, know them, or to have been friends with them. I believe you’ll enjoy it if you try it too!
These five things helped me accomplish my 2020 new year resolution of fixing my start of the day. They helped contribute to making me feel like I was more in the moment and in control of my world in 2020.
Going into 2021, my main resolution is to become more focused.
My morning routines have proven very effective in helping me start my day right. Regardless of who you are or what you’re up against, starting your mornings right will also help you create a bedrock of stability. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve referred to several great books that I’ve been reading in preparation for the new year. As I prepare to do everything I can to stay focused I welcome your thoughts on what worked for you in 2020 and what you plan to improve or achieve in 2021.