Morning rituals are a staple for self-improvement. Sean Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, calls it his hour of private victory. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, calls it her morning pages. I call it the spiritual gym.
There’s nothing religious about my daily spiritual gym workout. In fact, the spirit I am flexing is my own. I’ve been doing some form of this workout every single day for the last 5 years, and without fail, the days I’ve had to skip it are usually some of the worst or most wasted that I’ve ever had. Without these practices, there is absolutely no way I’d be able to coordinate an acting career, manage a restaurant, attend events, take class, go to the actual gym, spend time with my loved ones, and sleep 8 hours a night.
It always starts with a coffee, a journal, and a pen. And it goes on for however long it takes me to finish the coffee.
First, I review yesterday.
What did I do?
How much of that was what I set out to do?
How distracted was I?
Did I do anything that contributed to my life’s purpose?
What was the biggest thing I learned, and how can I implement that into my life and/or work?
What can I do better today?
Next, I list some things I am grateful for. These days I’m listing 5, but I’ve been known to do 3, or even 10. After that, I list some things I am manifesting. (I am a firm believer that the Universe provides, but only if it knows what you want. You gotta tell it.)
I then move onto the most important part: today.
I begin by writing out my to-do list. (There are 5 things I try to do every day—go to the spiritual gym, go to the actual gym, reach out to someone who is inspiring me right now, submit for acting projects, and practice my craft. It is rare that they all get done, but they show up on every to-do.) Then, I ask myself some pointed questions about my list:
Of the most important thing on your to-do, what are some potential obstacles you might face in getting it done?
How can you prevent those obstacles?
What will you do if/when they arise?
And then finally, some mental work.
What is the negative, unhelpful story you’re telling yourself today?
Why is that story untrue?
A few of the close friends who know about my spiritual gym practice have questioned how I am able to carve out time for it every morning.
The reality is, I don’t have time not to.
If you’re thinking about changing (or starting!) your own morning ritual practice, I implore you to ask yourself some hard questions about the obstacles you face during the day and how you can set yourself up for success beforehand. Or if journaling is not your style, check out Daily Rituals by Mason Currey for more ideas on how to structure your day.