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Can’t Keep Up With Your Morning Routine? 6 Ways to Make It Stick Again

Can’t Keep Up With Your Morning Routine? 6 Ways to Make It Stick Again

You just sometimes wish you are more organized in the morning and more productive so that you could start your day relaxed, instead of running around and trying to squeeze everything into one hour before you hit the road and go to work. We do want to change our habits, and we do make plans, but oftentimes, it is so difficult to stick to the routine, especially in the morning, and after a week or two, you go back to your old habits.

So, why does it feel like a torture to have a routine and stick to it?

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Why It’s Hard to Stick to Your Morning Routine

  • You get tired of doing the same things every morning: When you make plans what to do every morning, you get excited. But, after a while, you get really bored, and it starts to feel tiring and you no longer find pleasure in doing those things, you begin to see it as just another obligation.
  • You need to leave for work really early: Your work starts too early, and you get up at the crack of dawn, so it’s feels rather impossible to do everything you plan in the morning. You want to do so many things, but there is so little time.
  • You are not the morning type: You don’t like mornings, and you are not enthusiastic about doing any kind of activity that is not necessary before heading out to work. You just want to brush your teeth, have a shower, maybe have breakfast, if necessary, get it over with, and leave the house.
  • You are not organized: You really have good intentions, but are just all over the place, and don’t know where to start. Eventually, you end up not doing anything you planned.

Negative Emotions May Stay With You for a Whole Day When You Can’t Follow Your Morning Routine

But, why is it important to have a morning routine in the first place? If you start your day in chaos, running around, rushing to get everything done, you will feel nervous. And if you feel nervous in the morning, that negative feeling will stay with you throughout the day. It’s better to start your mornings with positive energy, well rested and productive. If you want to feel great in the morning, you need to have a pre-planned routine you will stick to. Luckily, we have a few tips for you how to overcome the obstacles when trying to stick to your routine.

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6 Ways to Make Your Morning Routine Stick Again

  • Pick the right activities to do before bed: If you wish to get a good night sleep, no phones, tablets, computers, or TV before bedtime. You may want to try some relaxing activities, such as reading, meditating or listening to some relaxing music. Once you start going to bed earlier, it will be easier to get up earlier as well.
  • Take small steps to wake up earlier: If you still have the urge to smash your alarm clock in the morning, try to gradually change the time when you wake up, so don’t go from 7 am to 6 am in one day. Fist, set your alarm 5 or 10 minutes earlier than usual, than work your way to the desired time day by day. This way, it won’t be such a big change and you will have time to get use to it.
  • Less is more: You may want to cram all your favorite activities in the morning. But, ask yourself, will you feel overwhelmed by doing this? You need to choose the one that put you in the good mood and give you energy for the day ahead. If you love to exercise, find a short 15-minute exercise program to do in the morning. And that’s all. Nothing more.
  • Speed up rituals like fixing your hair or doing make-up: Find tutorials with quick styling tips and start saving time. Prepare everything you are going to wear and everything you need to bring to work the night before, as it will save you a lot of time and make it possible to do things in the morning you really enjoy.
  • Get prepared at night so you won’t panic in the morning: Prepare a list in the evening and write down everything you need to do, in the order you will do it, and try to predict how much time you will need for every activity. After a while, you will know exactly how long does it take for you to do your make-up or to get dressed, and you won’t need the list anymore.
  • Alternate your morning routines so you won’t feel bored: If you get tired of doing the same activity in the morning, try to add new ones from time to time and you will feel excited again. If you like to read in the morning, and, for example, you always sit at the table while doing that, try changing your location form time to time. Sit outside in the sunlight, or go to another room and your brain will be more stimulated when you change your environment.

Yet, there are some people who just don’t feel like doing anything in the morning. If you are one of those people, find an activity you really enjoy doing, and do it every morning. You will feel much happier and eager to get up, as you know you will be doing something you really love.

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Featured photo credit: https://pixabay.com/ via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on April 23, 2019

How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

Stretch goals are a lot like physical fitness. When you adopt a physical sport such as running, continual practice leads to increased stamina, growth and progress.

While commitment to the sport improves performance, true growth happens when you are stretched beyond your comfort zone. I know this from personal experience.

For years, I was an avid runner. I ran with a variety of running groups in the Washington, D.C., area and in Columbus, Ohio, where I lived prior to moving to the nation’s capital in 2011.

While I was initially fearful about slacking off on my exercise habit when I moved to D.C., running enthusiasts in the area provided continual motivation, inspiring me to lace up my shoes day after day. Much to my surprise, many of the area’s running stores (including Pacers and Potomac River Running) boasted running groups that met in the mornings and evenings. So, it was relatively easy for a newcomer like me to connect with like-minded peers.

I was never a particularly fast runner, but I enjoyed the afterglow of the sport: being completely drained but feeling a sense of accomplishment; setting and reaching goals; buying and wearing out new tennis shoes. The sound of throngs of feet pounding the pavement in semi-unison is still enough to bring tears to my eyes. Yes, I sometimes tear up at the start of races.

Of all the groups I ran with, the Pacers Store group that met on Monday nights in Logan Circle boasted the fastest runners. I met up with the group week after week only to be the slowest runner. It was difficult to muster the courage to get up every week and meet the group knowing what was waiting for me: sweating and watching the backs of fellow runners.

Each time I joined the group, I was stretching myself without even realizing it. Instead of feeling like I was transitioning into a better running, for a long time I felt I was torturing myself.

Then something remarkable happened. I went for a run with a different set of runners and noticed my time had improved. I was running at a faster pace and doing so with ease. What was once uncomfortable for me I now handled with ease.

The reason I was becoming a better runner was because I was taking myself out of my comfort zone and challenging myself physically and mentally. This example illustrates the process of growth.

Fortunately, we can create situations that stretch us in our personal and professional lives.

What Is a Stretch Goal?

A stretch goal – as authors Sim B. Sitkin, C. Chet Miller and Kelly E. See detail an article “The Stretch Goal Paradox” in Harvard Business Review[1] – is something that is extremely difficult and novel. It is something that not everyone does, and it’s sometimes considered impossible.

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In general, you establish stretch goals by doing things that are difficult or temporarily challenging.

For instance, when I was first promoted to a senior communications management role, I knew I needed to beef up my relationships with media personalities. I set a goal to once a month book a day of media interviews in New York City – which is home to many media outlets, including SiriusXM radio, CNN, NBC News, HuffPost, VIBE.

This was a huge goal because it meant not only identifying the right people to meet with but convincing them to meet with me and my team. While I didn’t end up meeting the goal of doing a full day of media interviews in New York City, I met more people than I would have met had I not established the goal and instead stayed in the comfort of my D.C. office.

It is important to note that just because you establish a stretch goal doesn’t mean you’ll achieve the goal each time. However, the process of trying is guaranteed to provide some level of growth.

The Importance of Creating Stretch Goals

The beginning of the year is a perfect time to assess where you are excelling and where there is room for you to grow. I typically start the year by creating a yearlong strategic plan for myself.

I think about the things that are necessary to do and things that would be cool to do. I assess the people I should know and think through how to meet them. Then I ask myself if the goals are realistic and what would need to happen for me to achieve them.

Over time, I have learned that there are five things I can do to set stretch goals:

1. Get Outside of Your Head

If I exist within the confines of my imagination, I imperil my own growth and creativity.

If I examine my accomplishments and celebrate them in isolation of others’ accomplishments, my vantage point is limited.

I want to be comfortable with what I accomplish, but I also want to be motivated by watching others. In some respects, stretching is about expanding your network of friends, associates and mentors. These are the people who will propel or slow your growth and development.

Since two are better than one, I always value being able to share my progress with others, seek feedback and then map a plan for success.

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2. Focus on a Couple Areas at a Time

When setting goals, it is important to focus on a couple of areas at a time. Most of us are only able to focus on a few things at a time, and if you feel you are unable to tackle all that is before you, you may simply disengage.

I see this in so many areas of life:

When people get in debt, if they believe the debt is insurmountable, they refuse to look at incoming bills for fear of facing down the debt. Unfortunately, many businesses go awry when setting stretch goals.

In “The Stretch Goal Paradox,” Sitkin, Miller and See note:

“Our research suggests that though the use of stretch goals is quite common, successful use is not. And many executives set far too many stretch goals. In the past five years, for example, Tesla failed to meet more than 20 of founder Elon Musk’s ambitious projections and missed half of them by nearly a year, according to the Wall Street Journal.”

Goal-setting is like a marathon, not a sprint. It doesn’t all need to happen at the same time, and pacing is extremely important if you want to get to the finish line. It is better to focus on a couple goals at a time, master them and then move on to the next thing.

3. Set Aside Time Each Year to Focus on Goal-Setting

When I was a managing director for communications for the Advancement Project, I spent the first part of every year facilitating a communications planning meeting.

The planning meeting began with the team members assessing the goals the team had established in the preceding year, and whether those goals were realistic or not. If we failed to meet certain goals, we broke down why that happened. From there, we brainstormed about possibilities for the current year.

For instance, one year we set a goal of pitching and getting 24 opinion essays published. This was audacious because no one on the eight-person team had the luxury of focusing exclusively on editing and pitching opinion essays to publications around the world. We would need to focus on pitching in between the rest of our work.

We hit this goal within the first eight months of the year. Remarkably, in total, we ended up getting 40 opinion essays published that year, which was an indication that our original goal was too low. We upped the goal to 41 the next year, and amazingly, we hit 42 published opinion essays or guest columns.

From this experience, we not only learned what was feasible, we also learned the power of focus.

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When we focused as a team on getting the commentary on our issues out in the public domain, we were successful. The key in all of this is that there was a ton of discussion around which goal we’d pursue and why.

Equally important, as a manager, I didn’t set the goals alone; the team members and I established the goals collaboratively. This ensured buy-in from each individual.

4. Use the S.M.A.R.T. Goal Model to Set Realistic Goals

S.M.A.R.T.

is a synonym for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. For the sake of this article, the realistic portion of the acronym is most important.

While you want to set audacious goals, you want to ensure that they are realistic as well. No one is served by setting a goal that is impossible to accomplish.

Failing to meet goals can be demoralizing for teams, so it’s important to be sober-eyed about what is possible. Additionally, the purpose of setting goals is to advance and grow, not depress morale.

For instance, my team would have been discouraged had I begun the year asking it to pitch and place 40 opinion essays if we didn’t already have a track record of placing close to two dozen essays.

By using the S.M.A.R.T. formula, we were able to achieve all that we set out to do.

5. Break the Goal up into Small Digestible Parts

I am a recovering perfectionist. As a writer, being a perfectionist can be counterproductive because I can fail to start if I don’t see a clear pathway to victory.

The same is true with goal-setting. That’s why I join Lifehack’s fellow contributor Deb Knobelman, Ph.D., in noting that it is critically important to break goals into bite-sized chunks.

When I had a goal of doing daylong media meetings in New York City, I had to think through all the barriers to achieving that goal and all the steps required to meet the goal.

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One step was identifying which reporters, producers and hosts to engage. Another step was writing a pitch or meeting invitation that would capture their attention. Another step was thinking through the program areas I wanted to highlight and the new angles I could offer to different reporters.

Since reporters want to cover stories that no one else has written, I needed to come up with fresh angles for each of the reporters I was engaging. An additional step was thinking through who from my team I’d take with me to the various meetings.

I was clear that, as a talking head, as public relations reps are sometimes called, I needed the right spokesperson in order to land repeated meetings with different outlets.

A final step was thinking through what I needed to bring to each meeting and which reports, videos and testimonials would buttress our claims and be of interest to media figures.

As I walked through what was needed to bring my goal of doing daylong meetings to reality, I realized that not only was the idea within reach, but I was excited to tackle the challenge.

From that point until now, I have learned to break down goals into smaller parts and tackle the smaller parts on the path to knocking the goal out of the park.

The Bottom Line

These are my recommendations for setting stretch goals, and there are a ton of other resources to support you in the workplace and in your community.

For instance, LinkedIn’s Lynda.com platform has a wonderful suite of leadership development videos, including ones on establishing stretch goals. This is a paid resource but may be worth the investment if you lead a team or want to invest in tools for your own growth and development.

Featured photo credit: Avatar of user Isaac Smith Isaac Smith @isaacmsmith Isaac Smith via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Business Review: The Stretch Goal Paradox

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