I am a morning person. It dates back to my younger years in school when my dad would pour cold water on my sisters and I when we refused to wake up to go to school. The fear become motivation that created the routine of being an early riser. They say that the early riser catches the worm but my rendition of that is the early risers take the world by storm but late comers get to share the remains. Waking up early sets the tone for my day. I have also developed a morning routine that includes, prayer, reading and a run outside in the summer or on the treadmill in the winter. It doesn’t always happen this way.
This was true of one morning in particular. I woke up terribly late. My wife did too. Because I am the morning person, I am in charge of setting the alarm clock and waking her up. On occasion I have failed and this was one of them. I pleaded the fifth when questions such as, “Did you set the alarm?” or “Did you hit snooze when it went off?” rose up. My reason for pleading the fifth is to this day, I have no idea what happened. With no time for my morning routine and little time to get ready and be on the road heading to work, I quickly showered, grabbed a fruit, and rushed out the door. It was a miserable drive to work as I attempted to recollect the events that led to “Lategate.” Upon deciding that it was futile and more depressing to think about it, I shifted my thoughts to, “How can I make up for this?” I ultimately settled for making my morning routine my evening routine once I got back home. This change of thinking reminded me that all was not lost and I could still have a great day.
Once I arrived at work, I began wondering how I can ensure that I don’t lose sight of making up for what I missed in the morning. I knew that making good on the routine would be a win for my day. I pondered this further and came up with the idea of mind markers, similar to mile markers found on American Interstate highways. If you drive, you may or may not have noticed small green signs on the side of the road with white numbers on them. They usually have a number that corresponds to the closest exit number but they have a decimal point such as ‘57.3.’ Mile markers are small and look insignificant but if you were stuck on the side of the road and needed to call for assistance, you would need the mile marker to direct assistance to your exact location otherwise you would be lost. Another reason why mile markers are important is they help keep track of how far we are from our intended destination.
Mind markers work the same way. I decided to set up mind markers throughout my day to keep me motivated in maintaining my desire to fulfill my morning routine in the evening. We can all attest that work and the business of a day can kill our desire to do some things we planned for. I didn’t want to be a casualty of this. My rule for the mind marking was 50-10. For every fifty minutes of work, I engaged in ten minutes of mind marking activity that corresponded with my intended routine. Here are the mind markers:
Visualize: I created and rehearsed the picture of the routine. I began to see myself on my knees praying, sitting in my favorite chair reading, and running on the treadmill. This mind marker of visualization was crucial to developing my road map toward executing this routine I so earnestly wanted to complete. Visualization kept this routine at the forefront of my mind, raised my anticipation, closed gaps of reluctance and hesitation, and further solidified my desire to see it through.
Speech Therapy: The second thing I did was to share with my workmates about my intention to do this routine. I knew that by sharing I gave myself collaborative accountability partners who would ask me the following day if I carried out what I spoke about with great exuberance. This mind marker raised my level of confidence but also gave me the responsibility to do all I could to get it done. Sharing was also a way to quench excuses that come up such as, “I am too tired.” “I will do it tomorrow.” “It’s too late now.” The more I shared my desire, the more grounded I became in my decision.
Refresher Thinking: The third thing I did was to find things that refreshed my thoughts about what I wanted to accomplish. They acted as fertilizer, pushing my thinking process of what I wanted to do at the end of the day into a place where I had no choice but to do it. This refresher thinking involved reading inspirational quotes and exposing myself to stories of people who were able to overcome hurdles to achieve what they wanted to. I read articles on the Wright Brothers and how they overcame tremendous odds to see the reality of flight come to pass. I also remembered about fictional characters like Rocky Balboa who in the Rocky movies inspired us to never back down and not take “no” for an answer when it comes to reaching our dream. One particular quote stands out in relation to the mind, “Remember the mind is your best muscle. Big arms can move rocks, but big words can move mountains.” Feeding on the right thoughts and words was instrumental in keeping my mind on the goal. The Bible calls this meditation. “This Book of the Law will not depart from your mouth. Meditate on it day and night that you may observe to do all that is written in it. Then you will make your way prosperous and have good success.” (Joshua 1:8)
On the way home, I kept these mind markers replaying in my mind like an iTunes playlist. When I got home I was tired and the couch that I always see before I reach the treadmill called my name with an invitation to sit and watch TV. In that moment the mind markers had already been set. I went upstairs, and begun my routine and saw it through. Later that evening as I sat on the couch to watch some TV (yes I still did!) with my wife, I looked back on the day not with pride of accomplishment but humility of growth. What seemed to be an interruption to my daily routine became an insight to a way of thinking and doing that I would have missed without the disruption. How can you use the interruptions you face to channel your thinking in a way that doesn’t discourage or depress but rather create mind markers to propel you into a new level of growth?
Keep on Keeping on
Waiyaki M. Waiyaki
“Live by Design Not by Default”