Good Morning, Sunshine!

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morningNot all morning routines are created equally.

As a general rule, I tend to reject “hustle culture” as a way of life. I had some inclinations about this pre-COVID, and the result of the last year has solidified my convictions around this. I DO NOT mean that I’m opposed to hard work or busting your butt for some goals.

I am saying that every day (over and over and over) shouldn’t be a marathon. There’s a whole culture around pushing, pushing, pushing in a way that makes pure exhaustion something of a badge of honor, and rest as a thing that only lazy and unmotivated people do. Keep that in mind as you continue reading.

We’ve all heard the podcasts and read the books that talk about how efficient and productive you can be with an early wake-up. But I don’t necessarily think the time on its own will change your day without some other very important considerations. If you’re a night owl hoping that a 5 a.m. wake-up will suddenly make you love doing all of those tasks you’ve been putting off for years simply because you’re planning to knock them off your to-do list before the sun comes up, you might be a little disappointed by what I’m about to say.

WHAT are you doing?

Early wake-up times and a productive morning routine are often laced with the best intentions for productivity and a sense of accomplishment. But they’re as individual and unique as we are. If I felt obliged to cook elaborate “from-scratch” meals for my family and decided that 5 a.m. was the time I’d accomplish this, I would be miserable all day long and resentful of the stupid alarm clock that tormented me. I wouldn’t feel alive and refreshed and ready to conquer the day. Do you know why? Because cooking is NOT my happy place. It’s not the thing that will start my day off to give me a pep in my step!

So I’d ask the question… Why are you doing this? What’s the purpose behind your morning routine? And is there a passion or goal beyond that purpose?

There is definitely a school of thought to tackle our most difficult, uncomfortable, and least exciting tasks first. Get those items off your list early so you can do the stuff you love later in the day (eat the frog, as the saying goes, and there are a whole bunch of books about that very topic). We assume that if it’s stuff we enjoy and are good at, we’ll be more likely to do it anyway, right? Well, maybe not. 

I say…GIVE YOURSELF AN EARLY WIN.

What if instead of doing the things you don’t like, the stuff you struggle with and often avoid, you did the things that light your soul on fire FIRST? I know the thought process is that you NEED to do the things you don’t like, and you’re probably avoiding them because they’re hard or uncomfortable, so crossing them off your list first makes you less likely to push them off to “later” [read: never]. But, from an energetic perspective, I like to switch this up. Your morning routine has the ability to create an energy shift. You can CREATE the energy that will fuel the rest of your day… 

So ask yourself, are you starting your day off with tasks or activities that create or deflate your energy? When you start with the areas where you struggle or tend to avoid, what kind of energy are you actually creating?

On the days when I wake up early and do the things I love the MOST, the things that make me feel like I’m at the top of my game and can literally do anything and everything, I am exponentially more productive. When I look at those pesky tasks I’ve been avoiding, I can give them my “I’ve got this” look and set out to conquer the world, or at least feel inspired enough to cook dinner for my family. 

So how do you get to those things? How do you create a morning routine that is an investment in making the rest of your day exponentially more productive??

Your morning routine starts WAY before that pre-dawn alarm goes off. It starts when you create a plan. It starts when you make a decision…a decision for YOU!

Do you know what you’re good at and what you love? Do you know who you are and what activities will fuel your soul? Are you creating a to-do list around someone else’s version of success? If you’re not super clear on who you are and what you’re working towards, you could spend your early wake-up time spinning your wheels in confusion.

There’s no right answer here. If your big goal is to write a book, you’d probably want to wake up early to work on your word count. If you’re a stay-at-home mom and you want to create peace and calm in your home, you might wake up early to drink your coffee in the quiet and solitude or to stretch or exercise or read. There’s no right way to do this; it should be about you.

When you give yourself an early win (by doing the things that push you in the direction of an ideal future), you propel yourself into a great day. Let that win be your reward, and let the feeling of that reward create an association in your brain that your morning routine is a source of strength and motivation, and inspiration for the day ahead. 

Hustle in a way that gets you closer to your goals, closer to who you are, but do it AS YOU! Don’t be shamed into early mornings with dreadful tasks. You still get to define your success and create your best day.

The bottom line is… whether your morning routine starts at 4 a.m. or 8 a.m., if you’re forcing the stuff you hate, no morning routine will magically change your day or your success. Create your version of success. Create the vision of what you want your life to look and feel like, and then run (or jog or stroll leisurely) in that direction. 

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Lauren Schwarzfeld was born and raised in Yorktown, and aside from college in Boston and a few months living in New York City, she has spent her entire life in Westchester. She has lived in Mt Kisco with her husband Karl since 2006, where they have three kids, Mia (2008), Jacob (2009), Abigail (2012), and two dogs, Edna (a four-year-old beagle) and Felix (a one-year-old pitbull-lab mix). Lauren is a writer, coach, and leader in community engagement. She helps women rediscover their strengths, passion, and confidence to reclaim their spot in their life and step outside the box of perceived expectations. Her goal is for women to create a future that is authentically and unapologetically their own. As the Chief Operating Officer at (914) Cares, a local non-profit, she combines her business background with a passion for volunteer work and desire to care for the community around her. Connect with Lauren on Facebook or through her website!

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