The 4-step morning ritual that changed my life

First call…your prospect went with a lower cost competitor. (Crap!)

Next call…the deal you were banking on went cold because the company needs an ROI to justify the purchase. (Really? Our app lists for $99 per month)

Inbox alert…Last night’s release broke a feature you’ve been touting for weeks.

When the day seems overwhelming (as many do when you are in a startup), the best advice I have ever received was inspired by my 12-year old…“Take a deep breath Dad”.

Stop…breathe…reconnect. I use the photo above as the wallpaper on my iPhone lock screen. Every time I grab my phone, I am reminded to “breathe”. This photo takes me back to Bali where it was taken and a time that I was at peace more often than not. When you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed, stop and take three (3) deep breaths. Do this with your eyes closed if possible. Breath in through your nose and breath out through your mouth. For me this has a great calming effect and it helps me to regain focus.

It is so easy to fall into the trap of worrying about the competition, comparing ourselves to our peers, concerned what the boss might think, or tearing ourselves down with limiting self talk. To avoid these limiting beliefs, I’ve adopted a morning ritual of breathing, trusting and being thankful.

My morning ritual: Breathe, trust and be thankful

In reality you need a plan and you need to analyze your results. That’s a given. But I think as entrepreneurs we obsess over goals, plans and analysis. These things are important but to break free from fear, envy and doubt, I’ve found that spending time in the morning focused on breathing, trust and gratitude gives me the strength I need produce positive outcomes. Before you plan out your day and list out your to dos, practice the following:

  1. Close your eyes and practice deep breathing. I usually sit upright on my favorite chair or even outside on the porch. Cross your legs like you were meditating. Close your eyes and take 50–75 deep breaths. I count them (1, 2, 3…) silently as a way to focus on my breathing and not let my mind wonder and think about the day. Make sure that you are taking in a full, deep breath. Breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Deep breathing with your eyes closed should help settle your mind for the next step.
  2. Now that you have calmed your mind, take a few moments to sit quietly and just connect. Quiet your thoughts and silence your mind. For me this is a time for prayer. Trust in God, the Cosmos, Mother Earth…what ever it is for you BUT have trust in the energy that binds us all together. During this time I think about the things I am thankful for and I visualize the things that I want to create or accomplish. This prepares me for the next step.
  3. Each day write down at least three (3) things you are grateful for. Do this in a journal set aside specifically for this daily practice. Don’t over analyze this, just jot down even small things that come to mind. Maybe it’s your spouse, your children or the fact that you woke up this morning in the first place. When we stop and think about it we have so much to be thankful for. The fact that you are reading this post means that you have access to technology that was unimaginable 100-years ago. You also have the freedom to consume the content you want. Millions of people around the world don’t have this luxury.
  4. The last step is to write down the three (3) outcomes you visualize for the day. Don’t go beyond the today…stay focused on the present. Write down what would make today great for you.

My morning ritual has helped bring so much more clarity and meaning to my life. You must have a long term goal and a set of objectives that you want to accomplish. But where I was getting tripped up is in the day to day planning. In the words of motivational speaker Jim Rohn, “Where ever you are, be there”. Stop living in the future or in the past. Enjoy the journey because that’s what our life experience is really all about.