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7 Morning Rituals That Give You A Head Start Every Day

7 Morning Rituals That Give You A Head Start Every Day

Morning rituals set you up to win the day. They produce small wins that create positive momentum to propel you through the rest of the day.

Morning habits enable you to cross off items from your to-do list before the sun rises, which provides a sense of progress and accomplishment. Once you automate the morning rituals, you pave a frictionless and effortless path to the start of a successful day.

In The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Charles Duhigg writes, “Once you understand that habits can change, you have the freedom — and the responsibility — to remake them.” Build the framework of a productive day by thoughtfully designing your morning rituals.

1. Defeat the snooze button

Waking up without hitting the snooze button delivers your first win of the day. Resisting the alluring temptation of the snooze seems to be as challenging as running a marathon. However, you can transform into the person who leaves snoozing in the rear view mirror.

There isn’t a bulletproof method to overcome snoozing. The effective solution is different for each person. This gives you freedom to start experimenting today to discover the technique that works for you.

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Four years ago, I snoozed for two hours every morning. I tested countless methods to overcome snoozing. I tried going to sleep earlier. I set different ringtones for my alarm. I placed my phone far away from my bed so that I had to walk across the room to turn off the alarm. No method worked consistently. I failed at my first goal every day, which led to frustration.

I discovered my unique solution with the help of Clocky, which is an alarm clock with wheels that chirps an annoying beeping sound that changes pitch and frequency every few seconds. Every morning, I chase Clocky around the room with my eyes half closed in order to turn off the screeching alarm. I’m ready to start my day after that cardio workout.

Approach defeating the temptation of the snooze like a science experiment. Don’t beat yourself up over failed attempts. Instead, cross off the failed techniques from your list of alternatives and move on to the next iteration of the experiment. You’ll find a method that works for you.

2. Wake up earlier

As you’re slaying the snooze dragon, commit to wake up earlier. The external distractions from the world are dormant in the early morning. E-mails, text messages, and errands aren’t competing for your attention yet. In addition to the lack of distractions, you gain a psychological advantage when you wake up earlier. You feel like you have a head start on the day. It seems like you gained an extra hour.

If you’re not a morning person, your long-term goal will not be to wake up at 5 am. That’s fine. If you currently wake up at 8 am, abruptly striving to move up your wake up time by three hours will likely result in failure. You may succeed at the significantly earlier wake up call for a few days.

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However, the drastic change in routine will fizzle out quickly. Massive changes don’t happen overnight. Instead, start by waking up 15 minutes earlier. This is easily achievable. You may be surprised to find yourself waking up at 5 am everyday in a few years.

3. Make your bed

Making your bed is the easiest and quickest way to add a small win to the start of the day. You can achieve this win in less than one minute. It adds a quick burst of accomplishment and productivity to your early morning.

An organized environment leads to an organized mind. Making your bed is a simple way to start organizing your home life. Seeing the bed made as you’re getting ready for the day adds clarity and calmness to your thoughts.

4. Immerse in positive states of mind for 2 minutes

Immerse in the states of mind you want to experience the most throughout the day: grateful, inspired, excited, focused on priorities. Answer the following questions: What are you grateful for today? What inspires you? What excites you? What endeavors will you focus on today? Carry out this morning ritual even when you feel anxious, sad, or overwhelmed at the start of the day.

By immersing in grateful thoughts each morning, you train your brain to focus on the best aspects of each circumstance. By consistently focusing on what inspires and excites you, you transform into a more enthusiastic and optimistic person. When you clearly identify your priorities for the day, you take control of your day rather than being pushed around by circumstances and the agendas of others.

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5. Write down your goals every morning

You must identify and set exciting goals to begin the journey towards your dreams. A recent study at the Dominican University of California found that participants who wrote down their goals accomplished significantly more than the ones who didn’t write their goals. Writing down your goals is better than keeping them in your head. To increase effectiveness, reference and read through your goals every day.

The best method is to write your goals down every morning. You powerfully declare your intention by re-writing your goals at the start of each day. This practice crystallizes your goals in your mind and pushes them deeper and deeper into your subconscious. It sends a consistent signal to your brain that these goals are paramount to you.

As a result, your subconscious mind will get to work on your dreams while you work on other projects throughout the day. Your mind will constantly search for ways to progress towards your dream destination. Through this ritual, you recruit your brain to become your unpaid assistant.

6. Envision living your dream life for 5 minutes

Play your dreams in the theater of your mind. Engage the five senses. Watch yourself enjoying a two week vacation in Paris. What does it feel like to walk the narrow streets in the Latin Quarter? What does French food taste like? What does it smell like? What are the sounds you hear when you drink an espresso in a cafe?

Achieving ambitious life goals is hard. You will reach plateaus and valleys in the journey that will make you want to ring the bell and pursue easier goals. Imagine living your ideal day, week, and life. This boosts your motivation and inspiration. Additionally, this exercise clarifies the meaning and purpose of your goals. The motivation and sense of direction push you through the dark times in the journey towards your dreams.

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7. Work towards your dream

Make progress on your dream every morning before you move on to work and errands. Start by setting aside five minutes each morning to focus on your dream. You can incrementally work your way up to one hour.

Instead of surrendering the precious first hour of your day to errands that you don’t want to do, spend that hour working on the project that fuels and excites you. We have a limited amount of willpower in our tank each day. Leverage the full willpower tank in the morning by focusing on your most valued project.

If you funnel your efforts to the wrong activities, you quickly progress down a road that doesn’t lead towards your dream destination. By directing your attention and energy on your dream at the start of each day, you guarantee that you’ll be closer to your dream today than you were yesterday. This incremental progress adds up to significant gains over time.

When you combine the small wins from these morning rituals, you create a string of victories that power your day. You’ll feel more confident and better equipped to handle the obstacles that arise throughout the rest of the day. Regardless of the difficulties the day presents, you have already notched important successes.

Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Jose Ramos

Blogger

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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