Becoming A Morning Person

Good morning. Guess what? You can’t control most of the shit around you. Even if I’m not explicitly thinking that, the minute I wake up the sense of it comes forcefully to the front of my mind. I used to hate this feeling. I’ve spent years of my life trying to escape it. Some tactics have been healthier than others, but none of them have worked.

Most people, at that point, do one of two things: (1) hate life and people and even baby animals until coffee OR (2) decide they’re not a morning person and give up on it. I’m not so satisfied with status quo. What goes along with being a control freak is the deep desire to understand, tinker, and improve, even especially if it’s something about me.

Sure, I’m human. I’m going to fuck up. Havoc abounds. I’m not going to let that stop me. I’m not going to let me stop me. It’s scary to confront the chaos. It’s hard to make change. Even if you know it will be good for you. It feels easier to stay entrenched in a bad habit. It’s ass-backwards, but it’s true.

The willingness to change is brutally challenged by the fear of the unknown.

Mornings are a bitch. That doesn’t change. No amount of magic will move that fact. Some are better than others, but there’s always a regression to the mean. This is really good to remember when you’re having a particularly shit morning, and really hard to remember when you’re having a great one. The morning after our wedding, my husband and I woke up at 6AM without an alarm, full of positivity and vigor. Our love certainly hasn’t diminished in the months since then, but I can’t tell you we do that every day.

Another myth: there is no magic number to forming new habits. Trust me. I quit smoking cigarettes, and it took longer than 21 days to feel good about it. Tons of factors go into how long it will take you to make change. Most of the time you have no idea how long it takes, because it seems like you either do or you don’t. I’m not getting down on counting days. Making the daily habit of reflecting on your motivation to change continues to shape your meaning of success.

There’s a reason why mornings are tough. You’re vulnerable. Emotions pour in and you’re not in fighting stance. Remember that even the most organized and successful person in your life has that same fuzzy moment as they coax themselves to get up and face the day. The thing that sets them apart–makes them morning people–is how they work with it.

Primed with the knowledge that mornings are like constantly getting caught off-guard, I’ve choreographed a morning routine to combat the uncontrollable. It’s like a dance. I incorporate movement with mindfulness, ensuring redundancy because I know, no matter how hard I try, shit will shift at that moment when I’m not quite awake, and I might not be ready for it.

If this sounds rigid, you’ve got the wrong idea. There exists a space between “hyper-scheduled automaton” and “hot mess, fly by the seat of your pants,” both Jon Westenberg-isms. There’s a bunch to learn from his morning routine, and he’s always a good, quick read. He cooly slides into the space of the stumbled into success, “you do you,” and that works for him. But what about when “doing you” is chronically staying in bed too late and getting fired because you’re not on time for work?

I get that you have to do what works for you. I get up and immediately do sun salutations, but you might not like yoga. That’s cool, but don’t let that stop you from finding out what gets you going. Live life on your own terms, but know your blind spots. If you’re unclear where the boundaries of your better nature lie, don’t wait for it to fail you. Failure will happen, but if you make map what works and what doesn’t, you’ll never be completely lost.