Morning Routines For Every Schedule

morning routine

There was a time when I tried to introduce a new beneficial hippy-habit every week or so. I did meditation, kept a gratitude list, wrote morning pages, and tried to get in regular walks around my neighbourhood. I didn’t do too well, though.
 

What I didn’t know back then was that it takes at least 21 days for a new habit to get established. I was also setting myself up for failure by trying to change too much all at once, and then inevitably falling back into the way I’d done things for years.
 

There are ways of establishing good habits which make it much more likely for you to succeed and stick with it. One of those ways is to establish a routine at a certain time of the day, so that your new habit will always happen at the same time.
 

An excellent time for this is the early morning, for several reasons: Your brain is like a blank canvass in the morning, your attention still fresh. You’re less likely to be distracted by shiny things coming at you from all directions, such as the internet, news, or your family. As an additional benefit, your morning routine will set a positive tone for the whole day.
 
 

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What goes into a morning routine?

 

What your morning routine will look like, depends on what you’re interested in, and of course it also depends on what you’ve got time for. To get your imagination going, here’s a list of possible elements in your morning routine – feel free to pick what you like, discard the rest, and come up with entirely different things on your own.
 

  • Meditation. Don’t think it only counts if you meditate for at least half an hour. Five, even three minutes are already good for you, and you can always choose a guided meditation if that’s easier for you than trying to empty your mind completely.
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  • Morning pages. I don’t have the space here to explain what this is, so if you don’t know, I suggest you google the term! It’s an amazing practice for gaining clarity and knowledge of yourself.
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  • Exercise. A lot of the most successful people get up at ungodly hours to fit in a bit of exercise. It might not be your cup of tea, but it certainly gets both the body and the brain primed for the day!
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  • A cuddle session with your kid. Five, ten minutes of closeness with your child will get both of you in a good mood and inoculate you against many trials that can happen during the day at work or school.
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  • A healthy breakfast. If it’s a smoothy, or muesli, whatever makes you feel wonderful in the morning, should be on your schedule. It’s one thing you really ought to make time for.
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  • Reading. I read a non-fiction book for 30 minutes each morning. It’s very important for me to prime my mind and get into a positive attitude before I start my day. Experiement a little – even 10 minutes will make a difference.

 

A few sample routines

 

If you have 30+ minutes
 

In the following, I’ll give you a few example routines for inspiration. So, if you have 30 minutes or more, your routine could look something like this:

  • 5 minutes of mindfulness meditation sitting up in bed
  • 10 minutes of writing morning pages
  • 15 minutes of reading something uplifting
  • Getting up, getting ready, then going for a 10-minute walk around the block.
  • Having a scrumptious smoothie for breakfast.

 

If you have 15 minutes
 

  • 5 minutes of mindfulness meditation sitting up in bed
  • 10 minutes finding and writing down your three main priorities for the day

 

If you have 5 minutes
 

  • Stand by the open window, breathe in the fresh air and do a sun salute (yoga)

 
 

Make it easy for yourself

 

If you are serious about establishing a morning routine that suits you, it helps to have a few variables in place beforehand. First of all, look after your basic needs – I’m mostly thinking of sleep here. If you regularly wake up sleep-deprived, you won’t stick with any routine.
 

Another point is to try and wake up at (roughly) the same time every day. This, too, can become a routine, and it improves both the quality of your sleep and the likelihood that you’ll stick with your new morning routine.
 

Finally, don’t be afraid to experiement for a bit and find out what suits you best. It’s worth doing things differently if it means that you’ll truly reap the full benefit of your routine.

Can You Make Money Doing What You Love?

Crafts - make money doing what you love

Can you make money pursuing your passion? I’ve heard all the objections. In fact, I’ve used quite a few of them myself in my time:
 

“I’m not a pro, I can’t charge for this!”
“I love doing it. I don’t need to make lots of money.”
“Charging for it degrades my work.”
“Who would pay this much?”
 

Why do we resist earning money with our passion(s) so much? It’s almost like we prefer to stay in dead-end jobs and meaningless drudgery – well, I know not all of us live that kind of life, but look around yourself and you’ll see how many still do.
 

I believe it’s because we have been so brainwashed into thinking that paid work has to be something we dislike, or at least something we wouldn’t do voluntarily. We’ve come to believe it’s somehow unethical to charge for something we love doing.
 

I call BS. Doing what lights you up is the reason why you were put on this planet. You are here to radiate joy and love, not to suffer in misery. It follows that it must also be possible to live off whatever you earn with your passion.

[bctt tweet=”We’ve come to believe it’s somehow unethical to charge for something we love doing. I call BS.”]

 

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Why not just give your work away?

 

The marvellous Leonie Dawson once wrote an article in which she told a story of one of her mentors, who taught her about charging for her artwork. The rationale was that there is a balance of energy which needs to be preserved. You create your crafts or art, and provide your services, by using all your heart and love and energy on it. Therefore, when you give it away, there needs to be an equal amount of energy flowing back to you: energy in the shape of money.
 

Next time you think you should give your stuff away because you had fun creating it, remind yourself of the balance of energy. Life just doesn’t work with energy flowing in one direction only. There needs to be an exchange, giving and receiving, in order to preserve the natural balance.
 
 

Charge realistic prices

 

Think what a craftsman or a plumber charges per hour, and ask yourself whether your service, or your art or craft, is worth so much less? Your time is your most valuable commodity.
 

For example, when I determine the prices for my Coaching, I don’t just calculate the actual hours of the Coaching sessions with my client, but the many hours preparing and sending emails and materials, as well as the learning and further study I do in order to stay up to date in my field.
 

If you, for example, create jewellery, think of similar pieces sold in a commercial shop and what they cost. Now consider that those pieces are probably mass produced, whereas your work is likely unique and at the very least, handcrafted – this alone is worth a hefty premium! People expect to pay more for unique pieces, so don’t be afraid to ask for a sum which reflects this.
 
 

The nuts and bolts

 

If you are going to give it a go and try to make money with your passion, be sure to build a strong back end before you give up your daytime job. Most people have zero knowledge of business, and this goes especially for creative types.
 

A small online business isn’t rocket science, but you still need to learn about costs, turnover, and profit, about marketing and advertising, and how to budget. I highly recommend investing in yourself there; people often think they’ll save money, but in the end they waste so much more by trial and error.
 
 

Why?

 

Finally, why do I think this is important? Because it’s my deepest belief that you are on this planet to shine, that you are meant to be joyful and live in bliss. It’s your purpose as a human being. You weren’t born to pay bills or buy a suitably upper-class house or car. You weren’t born to reach life’s “milestones” like marriage, kids, job promotion, and retirement like clockwork if that’s not what lights you up.
 

I’ll say it again: You were meant to shine. To shine, you need to do what lights you up. By the natural order of the universe, doing this will provide you with all you need to live. The only caveat is that you need to learn how to do this – by charging enough money and learning how to run a business – because we aren’t taught these things in our schools.
 

Do the work and claim your joy!

[bctt tweet=”You were meant to shine. To shine, you need to do what lights you up.”]

Get Organised Once And For All

I have a friend who does so many things it makes me dizzy just thinking of it. He’s the organiser of a major project whose aim it is to establish the first true eco community in Ireland, tirelessly lobbying and putting together proposals. He’s always attending meetings and conferences and wooing sponsors, as well as scouting out potential sites and keeping interested parties informed. On top of all that, he’s a musician, a teacher, and generally a multi-passionate with a million things going on at any one time.
 

How he manages to stay sane through all this, is anyone’s guess! I develop a slight inferiority complex every time I think about my own need for copious free time to myself. I’m challenged just by trying to work a job and a business, and keeping the focus on my passions at the same time.
 

If you’re among those people who keep resolving to get their stuff together and make room for the right things in life, and never quite seem to manage, this article is for you. I have tried to implement many systems before I found what worked for me, and maybe I can help shorten that journey for you.
 
 

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Know thyself!

 

The first step is to know your own needs and to organise accordingly. Many of my failures came from aspiring to systems that simply didn’t suit my way of thinking and my need for space. Most of us wish sometimes that we could be like my friend I mentioned above. However, we also know by now that comparison is not the way to go. Your life is about you and nobody else.
 

I invite you to sit down and really come clean. How much time are you willing to spend on the “necessities” of life? It’s no use resolving to go to the gym five times a week and have the house spotless every night if you need creative space for yourself after work and also have a family to look after (and this is just an example).
 

I’ve long realised that I’ll never be a 1950s domestic goddess but I like a clear space, and so I do a minimum of housework regularly. I also spend a lot of time doing virtually nothing, and I’ve stopped feeling bad about it. This is gestation time for ideas and projects, as well as processing time for my emotions and experiences. It keeps me sane and happy.
 
 

Ask the right questions

 

A lot of being a Coach is about asking good questions. When it comes to sorting out your schedule in the long run, there are a few particularly interesting ones you should ask yourself, and then answer honestly:
 

  1. Does this give me joy/light me up? If it’s passions related, it should take priority.
  2. Is this task inevitable (such as tax returns; you won’t ever want to do them, but you can’t get around it)?
  3. Will doing this matter a year from now (exercise is just one example of an activity that’ll pay dividends in the long run)?

If you answer “yes” to any of the above, then the task or activity should go into your schedule. If it isn’t, you need to think hard about whether you should really spend time on it.
 
 

To save time, do more

 

Some weeks ago, I mentioned Gay Hendricks’s idea of “Einstein Time” (you can read the article here). Part of this idea is the observation how time seems to expand when you do what you love.
 

Therefore, paradoxically, I suggest you do more in order to have more time. More of the right things, that is! This is why my Coaching focuses on prioritising passions. It quite literally expands time and helps people get all their chores done along the way. I don’t know exactly how it works, I just know it does, every time, without fail.
 

If you feel permanently stressed and pressured, it’s a sure sign that you’re not doing enough of what lights you up. The problem is that most people dismiss the idea of prioritising their passion, thinking they don’t have enough time. In reality, this is the one step that would stop them being stressed in the first place! Try it, and if you need any help, let me know. This is exactly what I specialise in.
 

If you keep these priorities in mind and keep asking yourself the three questions above, you should end up with a schedule you can actually stick to for once. Do this weekly – I suggest either Sunday evening or Monday morning, but any day that suits you is fine – and feel yourself relax into a schedule that makes sense and fits your unique life and needs.

Gratitude – Yawn!

Gratitude

It was 2001, I’d just turned 31, and I was all fresh to the journey of personal development. I started out by reading the classics, like Napoleon Hill’s Think and grow rich, I joined internet forums (if you’re too young to remember this: it was a thing before Facebook, I swear), and I began some recommended practices for a positive mindset and success.
 

The one thing every single teacher or guru recommended, was gratitude. So I dutifully started my gratitude journal, where I wrote down 5 things I was grateful for every day.
 

Do you want the brutal truth? It was mind-numbingly boring. I went through the motions, came up with 5 items every day, and then quickly moved on to whatever other list I was writing at the time, such as 10 daily successes.
 

It took me a while to figure out why gratitude wasn’t working for me. You see, simply “thinking” (as you do when you write something down) doesn’t quite do the trick. Gratitude is an emotion and a state of mind, and the challenge is to tap into that. Only then can we access the abundance the gurus promise.
 

In the following, I’ve put together three non-sucky ways of incorporating gratitude into your life. Try them out, pick and choose, and keep what suits you. It really is worth it!
 
 

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1. The daydream

 

When you were a child, did you ever sit in a boring lesson at school and found your mind wandering to altogether more pleasant pastures? Heck, never mind school – plenty of us have done the same thing at a less-than-interesting job. I’d like to you keep this effortless daydreaming in mind when you read the following paragraphs.
 

You see, “visualisation” isn’t a terribly accurate term. It implies picturing something, but I suggest doing much more than that. Just like you did in your schooltime daydreams, I want you to get into all five senses as well as the emotional state you’re imagining.
 

What you’re imagining is, of course, whatever it is you’re grateful for. Instead of writing “my husband and kids and our house”, you picture a scene on a mild spring day in the garden with your family, as gratitude for your beautiful life warms you like the sunshine on your skin. In short, you paint a picture of the thing you’re grateful for.
 
 

2. The tribunal

 

If you like to challenge your mind, this one’s for you. Think of what you’re grateful for, and then imagine yourself in court, where a clever attorney is trying to get you to admit you’re not actually grateful.
 

List all the reasons why you are, and don’t forget to describe the way this makes you feel. Emotions are, in fact, the best way of convincing this particular court, so feel free to lay it on thick.
 

This may sound a little weird, but if you look for reasons why you feel gratitude, you also remind yourself of how much reason you really have. It’s so easy to forget otherwise!
 
 

3. The take-a-breath

 

This one’s great when you’re busy or working on something for a long time. First of all, you need to remember to take breaks (trust me, your performance will improve as well. Even and especially if you “don’t have time” for a break). At the very least, stop what you’re doing for ten seconds, look up from your work, and take a deep breath.
 

As you breathe in, think of something that’s good right now. It could be the cup of coffee in front of you. Your colleague who offered help earlier. A hug from your three-year-old this morning. Just think of something, however small it is, and with the deep breath and sighing out-breath, feel your gratitude flood you.
 
 

The magic key

 

Gratitude is like a magic key which opens the doors to abundance, be it in love and relationships, in your interests and passions, or in material abundance. Like everything else, gratitude can become a habit if you practise it daily for at least three weeks, so I suggest you stick with your chosen practice for at least that long.
 

Now, if you’re having trouble even thinking of anything to be grateful for, I suggest your passion or passions. I do hope it plays a major role in your life, because if it doesn’t, then you and I really need to talk! You are on this planet to be joyful, loving, and ecstatic. Claim what’s yours.

How To Always Have Enough (3 Principles)

Money management

Two things determined my relationship with money when I was growing up, and they both had a devastating effect: A “rich people are greedy” mindset and zero education on money management. Combined, their result was me living in my overdraft, feeling like a victim of my circumstances, and finally going flat broke in my 30s.
 

What followed was no less painful in many ways: I did realise I had to educate myself about money, but there were many systems and approaches which just didn’t work for me. It took years of trial and error to arrive where I am today, secure in my knowledge and my finances and having so much fun with my money.
 

I’d like to save you the rocky road to understanding and managing your finances. Too much of the information available in workshops, books, and on the internet focuses on “frugality”, on where you can penny-pinch and deny yourself. It’s about as appealing as a double root canal without anaesthetics!
 

Here are 3 rock-solid principles you can apply right now to always have enough.
 
 

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1. Abundance, not frugality

 

If you put the search term “money management” or “finances” into a platform such as Pinterest, it’ll spit out a million pins about saving and frugality. Like I said above, it’s enough to make anyone run in the opposite direction, fast.
 

And yet I, too, say that you need to save, ideally 20% of your money. However, I prefer to see this in the context of abundance. My suggestion is to split the amount of money you can save (even if it’s only 10%, or 5% of your net income) into half. One half is “paying yourself”, meaning it gets saved and invested but never touched. This money will pay you interest, and if you do this for a few decades, you can even live on this interest one day. The other half is “saving for spending” and is dedicated to save up for things like a holiday, a car etc – luxury things for yourself.
 

So, again: You do this for yourself, and it’s not at the cost of paying bills or having fun in the shorter term. This is where point 2 comes in:
 
 

2. Focus on pleasure

 

It makes no sense to me to pursue passion and joy, and then take a dry and serious approach to finances. In fact, the true key to abundance in my opinion lies in extending the sense of overflowing love and abundance that you get from prioritising your passion(s), to your money.
 

Don’t make money management a chore. Experiment and find out what gives you joy. For me, it’s online banking – I pull out my phone every day to log into my bank and smile at the money in my accounts. I also glance at my Credit Card to keep track of my spendings.
 

The best way to connect money with pleasure is to allocate 5% of your net income for “Play”. This is money you blow every single month, on things you don’t need but want. Nothing feels more abundant than paying for a round of cocktails in the bar with friends, or buying that piece of jewellery that jumps out to you on a website. Play money is just as important as savings are.
 
 

3. Cut what doesn’t contribute

 

Instead of thinking penny pinching, how about evaluating your spendings from the point of view of what gives you joy? There’s the rent, the heating, the electricity. You enjoy your home, its warmth and having a computer and a fridge, right? So that’s fine. Now go through your more peripheral expenses, such as subscriptions. How much do you use each of those, and do you truly enjoy them?
 

This is how I got rid of my TV years ago. Sure, I enjoy watching a series every now and then, but I can just as well buy the DVDs. TV is one of those things that might give you comfort, but not necessarily joy. In fact, could it be that its comfort prevents you from experiencing the joy your passions would give you? Think about it. It might not be true for you, but it certainly was for me.
 

If you apply these principles, you’ll always have enough. You’ll find you suddenly have money for your passion, for your life, and for those little luxuries that make life even more beautiful.