John: I just got done with a normal workout: 100 chin-ups, 200 dips, 300 pushups, 400 squats. I work out every day, have since I was 13. When I was playing sports, it was about becoming a better athlete, after college, it was about looking good for the chicks, and now it’s about fighting off the grim reaper. I’m 43 and will say, I look pretty good for a 43 year old cat. At least I think so – I really don’t care what others think, except my son, who plays college football and still can’t out-chin me. Anyway, it has become an important part of my day, my Prozac time and why I don’t need therapy. It grounds me. Helps me focus. Centers me. Press rewind and hit play, stop, repeat. I have done this routine over and over for 30 years. It’s normal. Doing something every day represents so many areas of my life now, both personally and professionally, where I am constantly trying, learning, getting it, and once I get it, it becomes so important that I do it every day. In the age of super productivity hacks and abs in 15 minutes, basic hard work is important enough to me that I do it daily. If something is not important, I don’t do it. EVER.
Question for my three friends – what is the one thing that is so important you do it every day?
Jen: The one thing I do every day is find uninterrupted time to do nothing but think. It can be for a block of 15 or so minutes, or an hour plus, but it must be devoted time. For instance, I can’t do it effectively while driving or listening to music (although that may work for others). I used to call it quiet reflection, others may call it deep thought. I told Trish about it a year or so ago and she happened by an article on transcendental meditation and dropped it on my Facebook wall and said “I’m ready to start doing this!” You can read that article here, it’s called “My Only Regret Is That I Didn’t Find This Practice Twenty Years Ago.”
One of the things in life I am most grateful for is that I did naturally begin this practice many years ago. I have had it as part of my routine for as long as I can remember, even as a small child. Back then, I thought other people might think I was odd and didn’t really tell anyone. My parents thought I took a lot of naps, but in actuality I just spent a lot of time lying in my bed with my eyes closed thinking. It’s not the same as having an uncontrollable stream of thoughts like some people get during stress or anxiety. It’s a deliberate process of taking all the external input and stimuli from the world around me and then processing it. The first time I ever ran a defragmentation on my computer I remember how I thought – “Wow! This is a great visual to explain exactly what I’m doing in my thinking time – I’m taking all the stuff floating around and reorganizing it, cleaning up, and making space for new information.” In actuality, it’s much simpler, but the results are the same – my brain gets defogged, sharper, and I get a ton of energy. If I miss doing this for more than a day or two my world seems to crumble. At best I lose my ability to reason, struggle to make decisions, or am hyper-emotional. At worst, I literally get sick. For that reason, I will do everything in my power to protect my time, even blocking it on my calendar.
Molly: I cannot believe I’m sharing this, but the overall message to me is important. The thing that is so important to me to do every day is connect with my husband…by wearing matching underwear (pattern, not style). Yup. You read that right. It started as a joke. We were driving home from working-out and were listening to ESPN Fantasy Football Podcast. There was a commercial for MeUndies (matching underwear for couples). I thought that was odd for that specific radio audience and we laughed about it in the car. I checked them out when we got home since Valentine’s Day was coming up and thought a three pack would be a cute and funny gift. My husband loved it so much he bought us the monthly subscription. Now each morning, we ask each other, “what undies today?” as they also have great names like “Taco Love.” The point is that we connect everyday first thing in the morning (even when we travel) and laugh.
Trish: For the last six months or so, I’ve started off the day by uttering the same words aloud and with decent volume, “Good Morning, Good Morning, Good Morning!” Now, it’s possible that I am speaking to no one in particular, except maybe the ceiling- but on most days, the dog and my significant other (Marty) are both still in the bed and hear my morning greetings. I’ve learned that no matter how rough of a workday I know is ahead of me, I am starting the day out on a positive note. The mini-routine is this: morning alarm goes off, I shut alarm off, dog wakes (shakes and stretches), while dog is making is slow crawl toward me for his morning pet, I say aloud, “Good Morning, Good Morning, Good Morning!” Marty may let out a funny groan or may even mock my announcement with a childish-nasty teasing version of “Good Morning” that sounds something like “Ged morninnnnngggg”, but the dog is always happy to hear my morning announcement. I’ll laugh, Marty will laugh, the dog will smile, and I’ll jump out of bed with the dog following close behind so that the dog can give his version of morning greetings to the backyard lawn.
As cheesy as this mini-routine is, it has become a very important thing I do every day to create positivity from the get-go. My morning announcement reminds me of a teacher I had in high school that would stand outside of his classroom door at the start of each new class period, and as students would approach to walk into his classroom, he’d smile and say “Be Ready! Be Ready!” He’d clap his hand once while saying this statement or even pat a student on the back as they passed through the classroom door. As a result, he created a positive and joyful start to that day’s American History lesson. (Shout out here to one fine educator and leader, Mr. Paul Gossert previously of Lecanto High School, Lecanto, FL). While some of the students would repeat “Be Ready!” right back to Mr. Gossert, or would say “I know, I know, Be Ready!”, no one could argue Mr. Gossert’s intent to motivate and inspire his students with his simple interaction. Okay, now back to my simple proclamation…
Instead of waking up and immediately reviewing my calendar for the day in my head and adding on to my already long work and personal to-do list, this simple act of expressing upbeat optimism has made a difference in how I approach the day. A little positive attitude, smiles, and laughter can erase whatever negative thing or experience happened the day before and kick-off a new day with brightness and confidence. Sometimes this brightness will last throughout a hard day or helps smooth out the rough edges of the challenges that I may encounter. Consistently, I make a good morning turn into a good day that turns into a good evening and the cycle repeats.
I encourage you to try something cheesy to communicate to your partner when you wake up, to your child before heading to school, or to your office staff as you walk through the door. I’d love to hear from you how it made you feel and how you observed others when communicating. I bet you’ll promote amazing joyfulness and be cheerful throughout the day. Good Morning, Good Morning, Good Morning!
Originally published on LinkedIN on 9/19/18 see it here