The third stage of the recently concluded Tour de France, the most demanding, over-the-top, bike race in the world, was a Team Time Trial, where up to eight members of the same team work together to basically endure an all-out sprint covering, in this case, 35.5 kilometers (22 miles). The winning team, Team BMC, averaged over 34 miles per hour…on bikes!!! While I watched these freakish athletes punish themselves for almost 39 straight minutes one of the commentators pointed out how incredibly important it was to start a Team Time Trial correctly. In essence, if you don’t absolutely nail it in the very first kilometer then your chances of winning the event go way down.
That comment really hit home because I truly believe the same concept holds true for how we start each and every day. How we “set the stage” each morning can have a profound impact on how the rest of the day goes.
I have found that most everyone has a morning routine or, if you have a traditional Monday through Friday work schedule, then you have two routines, one during the week and another on the weekend. While everyone is a bit different, there are some fairly common elements to how many people begin their day. Coffee seems to be at the top of the list. Other common morning rituals include walking the dog, flipping on the television, or reading the newspaper (If you’re asking yourself, “What’s a newspaper?” just Google it.).
For many of us, checking our phones is the very first thing that happens once our eyes are open. Whether it’s for email, texts, Instagram, Twitter, Snap Chat, Facebook, etc., we simply can’t get going, or don’t think we can, without our electronic fix. What happened overnight? What did I miss? Here’s why I think that’s dangerous…it allows “others” to jumpstart what you begin the day thinking about. Mentally, right out of the gate, you are reacting to an external trigger rather than proactively deciding the mindset you want to enjoy. Just as in the Team Time Trial, how you start your day will go a long way in determining how you manage the next 16 or so hours. Isn’t it better to intentionally start out feeling happy, positive, and optimistic rather than angry, frustrated, and defeated? Just as I don’t allow the big food companies to dictate what I eat, I also don’t want someone else to hijack what I think about or how I feel. Don’t let others influence your mood and attitude, take control. Now I clearly understand that during the course of the day situations often arise that will influence your state of mind, some positive and some negative, but if you start out mentally engaged and energized then your ability to deal with life, i.e. your resiliency, will be greatly enhanced.
Here’s what I suggest…sometime within the first 10 minutes after you wake up, and before you check your phone, be grateful. Intentionally. Proactively. Eliminate any distractions and just focus on all the things you have to be grateful for. Try focusing on what you have rather than on what you don’t have. Initially, you may believe that’s a short list but I suspect if you really concentrate you’ll be surprised how great you really have it.
Last month there were demonstrations and riots in Haiti after the government, in an effort to generate funds to improve infrastructure for things such as hospitals, roads, and energy, raised the price of gasoline by more than $1 per gallon. The pushback was immediate and substantial because many Haitians are already living on less than $2 per day (yes, you read that correctly). The $1 increase would literally have led to death and starvation for many families. Fortunately, the price hike was quickly rescinded which stopped the violence, but the fact remains most Haitians are struggling just to get from day to day. Comparatively, I have absolutely nothing to complain about and more than a thousand things to be grateful for!
So, why don’t you give it a shot? Tomorrow, take just a few minutes to start your day with a big dose of gratitude. Mentally just list two, three or four things that you have to be grateful for. Here’s something that might help you get started:
Today I am fortunate to be alive. I have a precious human life. I am not going to waste it!
I guarantee that taking the time to intentionally generate your own thoughts and not let others dictate what you focus on will go a long way in helping you win your daily “Time Trial.”