Last month, Jon Acuff invited me to an adventure.
Okay, he didn’t invite me, personally. I actually can’t remember how he invited me. I couldn’t find a tweet about it, and I can’t find it on his blog. But he did invite me. That much I know.
He didn’t give many specifics. He just said “Adventurers Wanted.” He added, “If you want to join an adventure, click here.”
The “click here” took me to an e-mail list sign-up form, where I gave some vitals and then was asked what I wanted to do differently.
That was an interesting question. There are really a lot of things I want to do differently. I want to be healthier, I want to be calmer, I want to be more service-oriented and less self-oriented, I want to do more knitting.
But what I wrote down in that sign-up was that I wanted to live more intentionally, more mindfully. I feel like a lot of my life is conducted in what I call “firefighter mode.” In other words, I race from place to place putting out fires rather than planning and doing. I tend to react rather than to act.
So I joined the e-mail list and yesterday morning was invited to join a closed Facebook group called “30 Days of Hustle.” I tingled with excitement. I felt like I was part of a secret society, and that was rather thrilling.
Our first assignment came today, via our Fearless Leader Jon.
“What are you going to do in the next 30 days?
Not 10 things, not 5 things, but what 1 thing are you going to do?
Most goals fail because we wake up one day and decide to write a book. Instead of trying to write a chapter or do a little research we decide that right now, right here we are writing an entire book. And then, we realize that is hard and we quit.
So today, this is what I want you to do.
1. Find one thing you are going to do in the next 30 days.
2. Make it specific. (Don’t say, “I’ll get in shape,” say, “I’ll lose 5 pounds.”)
3. Make sure it’s your goal and not someone else’s goal. According to Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D. “People are even better at keeping their New Year’s resolutions when they feel that the resolutions reflect their own personal desires and values.”
4. Write it down and post it somewhere you will see it.
5. Share it in the 30 Days of Hustle Facebook group.
The last one is optional since not everybody loves Facebook.
The other four? Those are mandatory.”
You wouldn’t think that picking one tiny goal would be so difficult, would you? But immediately I was overwhelmed. The thought of choosing one goal out of the many possibilities was a bit dizzying.
I thought of making it a habit to check off at least half the items on my to-do list every day for 30 days. I thought of waking at 5:30 every morning for 30 days. I thought of doing at least one item of housework every day for 30 days.
But then I remembered what I had shared with the Facebook group yesterday: I had confessed that my biggest problem is that my mornings slip away without my having accomplished anything meaningful. I’m not a morning person, and too often I tell myself “I’ll just ease myself into my day with coffee and Facebook or Twitter.” But then, before I know it, I’ve been doing nothing for 3 hours and it’s nearly 10 a.m. and I’m way behind on my day.
Then it hit me, my perfect 30 days goal: a morning routine.
If I could get myself into the habit of doing certain things every morning when I woke, I could be so much more intentional and mindful and start my day in a much better frame of mind. And, hopefully, by 10 a.m. I would no longer be saying “Where on earth did the morning go?” but instead be saying “I am really slaying today!”
In this spirit, I wrote the following goal down:
“In the first month of 2014, I am going to develop a morning routine. This routine will be one that makes me alert, focused, and ready to tackle the day. The routine will ensure that at least 2 household tasks and 1 writing task will be completed by 10 a.m.”
Now, full disclosure: at this moment, it’s almost 11:30 a.m. and I haven’t done anything really this morning, aside from make coffee and do my morning devotionals. But I’m cutting myself some slack because a) it’s New Year’s Day and b) this is Goal Setting Day.
But I have started researching ideas, because I do want to make this an effective routine. A few weeks ago I subscribed to a blog called Money Saving Mom, written by Crystal Paine. She has so many great ideas for saving money, but also for working productively from home.
I found a series of challenges she posted in the summer of 2012 called “Make the Most of Your Mornings,” and I knew immediately that this was just what I needed. So I’m reading through them and filling out some of the challenges she suggests.
The first one is “Your Morning Starts the Night Before.” Her suggestions:
1) Determine your bedtime: According to her, if I want to wake at 5:30 (which I do when I need to get my daughter K out the door by 7 ), I should be going to bed by 9:30. That seems ridiculously early to me, to be honest. I’ll shoot for 9:30 but not hate myself if I don’t get there till 10.
2) Pick your Top 5 Evening Must-Dos: This is one that I really kind of already knew, because I have been half-heartedly doing it. But I know I need to be more disciplined with it. So here are my evening must-dos:
a) Take a shower
b) Clean the kitchen
c) Set up coffeemaker
d) Start loaf of bread
e) Set out breakfast fixins
The d) may not be necessary every evening (it will depend on how low we are on bread), while the e) will be totally new to me. But I can see how it will help me with a morning routine. Not only will it motivate my daughters to eat breakfast in a timely manner, but it will do the same for me.
I have a tendency to put off getting myself breakfast (because I’m not a morning person and am horribly lazy in the morning) until I’m starving. And then, because I’m starving, I’ll often just grab a slice of bread and make toast and peanut butter. That isn’t the worst breakfast in the world, perhaps, but it isn’t particularly filling, and often leaves me both hungry and low on energy by 10 or 11.
3) Plan your start time and stick to it: I decided on a start time of 7:30. I start my daughters’ bedtime routine at 8. It takes me anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes to read to and be read to (my younger daughter is supposed to read every day, and bedtime is when she reads to me) and say prayers.
My plan is to take a shower at 7:30, then start cleaning the kitchen. At 8 I can take my daughters to bed; at 8:30 I can finish cleaning the kitchen, then do everything else. I’m pretty sure I can get everything done by 10.
I’m starting this tonight. In her challenge Crystal suggests trying it for 3 weeks and see what it does for you. I’m going to try it for 1 week and then, at the end of the week, I’ll decide if I want to do anything differently.
But I really like this idea of starting the night before.
I plan to continue blogging about my efforts to develop a morning routine. If you’d like to join me, feel free! I’ll bet a lot of us aren’t morning persons either and could use some help getting themselves jump-started in the morning.
What goals do you have for the first month of 2014?