Author: Heidi Hudson
Every morning, you have a choice. There is a question to be answered: Who am I going to be today? As we go throughout out day-to-day lives, we are faced with endless choices of identity-shaping capabilities. However mundane a choice may seem, it has the opportunity to shape an infinite number of versions of you, and it has the power to shape somebody else’s reality. Our choices matter, and our choices start in those first moments, those first questions of the day. What fuel are you feeding your day?
Hans Vestberg, Swedish CEO of Verizon Wireless has started his days off the same way since 2009. Vestberg’s strategy is a self-assessment to gauge his ability to function as a boss. According to a CNBC article written by Ashton Jackson on Sep. 24, Vestberg ranks his energy from 1 to 10. Based on this ranking, he is then able to discern how he can best lead himself and his company within that day.
This is just one example of a morning routine. United States Naval Admiral William H. McRaven delivered an oft-quoted commencement speech for the University of Texas class of 2014 on May 17, 2014. In his speech, he gives advice to graduating students starting a new chapter of their lives. He said, “If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day.” He goes on to say that this will lead to more tasks being completed. Then, he furthered the theory by saying, “… and if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home toa bed that is made. That you made. And a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better. So if you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”
Naval Admiral William H. McRaven delivered a University of Texas Commencement Speech on May 17, 2014.
What started as a mandatory part of the Navy SEAL training routine turned into a morning ritual that changed how Admiral McRaven views accomplishment. The simple act of making a bed can impact the trajectory of a whole day.
Johann Hari outlines what he discovered about his own routine rituals in his book “Stolen Focus.” In the novel, he discusses a hiatus that he took from all technology on a relatively remote island. Through this, he found that his best mornings were ones where he naturally woke up without the blaring sound of his alarm clock. Hari was fortunate to get the opportunity to go to a remote place to detox from his stresses, but we can still learn from his experiences. It is easy to wakeup and immediately turn to our phones to catch up on all that happened in the world while we were asleep. But Hari has found that it may not be the best way to live. It is important to recognize what practices work best for all of us, but finding rhythms that ease us into the pace of the daily race can make the transition into each moment smoother.
Some people assess their emotions and some make their beds. Others have their own rituals. Viral videos of elementary school teachers show daily affirmation practices for students that fuel their days with confidence. The form of the practice does not matter, but the importance is never lost.
As we, students of Hope College, enter into the new spaces of a new academic year, we get the opportunity to build meaningful routine practices that will fuel our experiences. Whether it is a note on a mirror, a phrase you repeat to yourself, or simply making your bed, you have the ability to start each day as a new creation. Who you are starts with how you speak to yourself in the quiet, most intimate moments of the morning. How will you speak life into your own experiences this year?