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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

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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