Morning fuel: Shake up your wake up

4 minutes of morning fuel can change your life. Start managing your energy-not your time.

How do you start your day?  Is it automatic or intentional?  When your eyelids pop open, what’s the first thought you have?  The first thing you do?  Most importantly   how do you FEEL when you wake up?  What energy are you creating for yourself?  Want to begin your day with powerful energy?  Read on…

In the not too distant past, my days began automatically, without thought, like a daily fire drill.  I was miserable.  Day after day, I awoke to a blaring alarm at 6:00am filling me with anxiety after too little sleep feeling two hours behind before my feet even hit the floor launched out of bed dashed to the shower readied myself with hurried rapid fervor slammed clothes on while worrying about all the things I wasn’t yet doing impatiently waited for my remarkably fast Nespresso coffee to spit out coffee and ran for the bus for a 75-minute commute to work.  I did that almost every day for almost eight years.  The energy I was creating was depletion, rush, and insufficiency.  

That is not how I wanted the rest of my days to feel.  

So I thought about how to begin my days mindfully in a way that made me feel good, working with the constraints of a demanding work schedule.  I studied the morning routines of high-performers but they seemed overwhelmingly ambitious and misaligned with my needs.  I tried meditating, but it never quite took because I was too weary and it lulled me back into sleep.  I tried working out, but that meant waking up at 4am to get a work out in before I had to leave for work, which made me more tired and felt like a chore.  I realized morning rituals don’t have to be serious or static or quiet or productive or long.  We can make it up.  I eventually stumbled into a home run: “morning dance party.”  (Huge thanks to Molly Mahar for introducing me to dance break at Elevate retreat because otherwise it would not have occurred to me to dance.)  

Before I left the house, for three minutes and fifty-seven seconds, I danced to “Can’t Stop the Feeling.”  It took hold.  This became my morning fuel.  I literally couldn’t stop the feeling (Thanks, Justin).  I did this enthusiastically, day after day, for a few months.  Every day, I danced my heart out and got a high-energy, endorphin-fueled positivity boost that was exactly right for countering the fatigue, burnout and monotony in that period of life.  Short and powerful.  Four minutes changed my life, because it changed my energy for the rest of my day. And that changed my thoughts which changed my behaviors which changed my actions and thus my whole life.

I have three points here.  One – if you don’t have “morning fuel,” (i.e., an intentional morning practice), then create one and watch what magic happens!  Two – Keep it simple, make it your own, and do something you’re excited about.  Experiment with what works and what doesn’t.  Three – the “best” (i.e., most life-giving) way to start your day is going to evolve over time depending on where you are in life; morning rituals aren’t static.  Here are examples from various periods in my life over the past two years:

When I feel lost and adrift, I start my day with a familiar, anchoring prayer.

When I feel negative and crabby, I start my day by naming what I’m grateful for out loud.

When I feel busy, “full,” and overwhelmed, I start my day by holding spacious, empty silence.

When I feel stagnant and unproductive, I start my day with a walk, run or some other high-energy movement.

When I feel physical pain, I start my day with slow, gentle stretching.

When I feel self-doubt and fear, I start my day with empowering, self-affirming statements and reading daily motivational passages from “A Year Without Fear.”

When I feel stuck in my head and thoughts, I start my day by focusing on my senses – the taste and aroma of my freshly brewed coffee and the feeling of the warm sun on my face.

In times when life is busy and full, I keep it simple and short.

In times when life has spaciousness and ease, I let it be longer and expansive.

Whatever energy you’re in that you don’t like, know that you have the power to shift it.  No change is too small.  And it will create a ripple effect.  

My challenge to you today – create morning fuel! Notice the energy you’re craving for your life and create a ritual action that gives you this energy. You will fuel yourself towards creating the life you want.

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