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taking back my morning

If you follow me on this blog or my social media, you’ve probably seen me overhaul my morning routine over the past 6 months. I started with wanting to wake up early and practice gratitude. Once I mastered this, making my new wake time and gratitude routine a habit, I added in an additional 30 minutes for a workout. Read the full post on how I did this here: waking up. 

I was fairly successful at this over the course of six months, and was able to stay consistent on weekdays, successfully waking up for both my workout and my gratitude practice 4 out of 5 weekdays. 

I was on a roll of making this my new norm and then something happened that changed my mornings drastically – we got Winter. 

If you’re not sure who Winter is, see below. She is a super cute three month old miniature Australian Shepard, and she was sent by God to TEST ME IN EVERY WAY. 

mini aussie

We got Winter on March 19th and my routine, that I had worked so hard to establish, went out the window, along with my cats and my sanity. 

Winter came to us with an extreme case of separation anxiety and hyperactivity. The hyperactivity I expected, but her separation anxiety proved to be the real cause of our trouble. Winter refused to sleep in her crate without barking. Winter could give us all a lesson in resilience, which ironically is my personal growth word for the year for 2019. Winter can bark for hours upon hours, take a five minute break, and then bark again. She can throw herself against her crate, bark more, and then repeat the process for hours, and hours, and hours, never sleeping. 

She didn’t want to sleep alone. She didn’t want to BE alone, at any time in her life. This made is extremely hard for me to sleep, as you can imagine, with a barking howling, snorting, crying, whining, dog in the house. The Veterinarian assured us she would break, and if she was barking merely to see us, then do NOT go and get her. Sleeping with pillows over our heads, we charged ahead. 

My morning routine, however, was shot dead. How could I wake up early and exercise when I was only getting 2-3 hours of sleep at a time and less than 6 hours total? The more I tried to keep up, the more I failed, and the more discouraged I became. 

Fast forward to today, and Winter is finally doing better. We moved her crate to the opposite side of the house, and she will now sleep successfully about eight hours. WOW! Yes, its incredible, but my morning routine is still long gone. 

I have to start over, and train myself again, to wake up and workout. 

I’m listening to a really great book right now called The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor. 

Shawn introduces Seven Principles of the Happiness Advantage and one of them is called the Twenty-Second Rule. Basically it states that when trying to create a new habit, you should follow the path of least resistance. 

This is what I had successfully accomplished, BW – Before WINTER. I would have my coffee pot set to brew, my Air-pods and journal on my night stand, my workout shoes next to my bed, and I would sleep in my socks. I would literally roll out of bed into my shoes and then walk to my elliptical machine. By the time my morning grogginess wore off I was already on my machine. This path of least resistance was the only way I could get up in the morning. 

No variations, no distractions, nothing to get in my way. 

But AW- After WINTER – even though she is sleeping now, my morning is still full of Winter. If she hears me awake in the kitchen, grabbing my water to go workout, or making the coffee, she  wakes up and then its all over. She is barking to go outside, jumping up and down, running through the house, having accidents in the house, throwing herself against the back door, and so on…there is so much resistance at 5:30 in the morning, I can’t get my workout in to save my life. I would rather us all sleep than wake up in the morning to handle the puppy. 

After reading about Shawn Achor’s Twenty Second Rule – I have some new ideas on how to handle this morning situation. I’m going to create a path of least resistance around Winter if it’s the last thing I do!

Here is my plan of action:

  1. Disable my snooze button on my morning alarm giving me only two options when I hear the alarm – wake up or everyone oversleeps.  
  2. Put my sneakers next to my bed and sleep in my exercise clothes with socks. 
  3. Stay in my bedroom in the morning so I don’t wake up Winter:
    1. Have the coffee set to brew itself by getting it ready the night before.
    2. Move all of my workout equipment to my bedroom.
    3. Have a bottled water ready on my nightstand for the morning.
    4. Have my journal and AirPods in my bedroom.

If I can manage to stay in my bedroom, next to my bed, and get my shoes on, I should be able to get back on track. Winter can sleep until 6:30 and I can hide in my bedroom for an hour and not wake her up. 

I’m determined to take back my morning. The benefits of waking up early and getting in exercise and gratitude are enormous, and I felt so much better when I had these habits in my life. If you are trying to start a morning routine, or any new habit, try following the path of least resistance. You only need to take these measures until the habit is ingrained and becomes your way of life. Usually about a month!

The twenty second rule also works in reverse. If you have a bad or negative habit – make it harder to access the vice. Shawn Achor wanted to watch less TV, so he took the batteries out of his remote control and moved them twenty seconds away to his bedroom. Instead of going to put the batteries in the remote each time he had the urge to watch TV, he ended up doing something else. 

I think I’m going to try this with my kids this weekend. I’m moving Malori’s iPad, Drew’s PS4 controllers, and Alex’s computer mouse all the way outside into our travel trailer. They’ll have to walk outside, unlock and then open the trailer door, and then find the needed devices. I’ll let you know if it works!!

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