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Morning Routine for a Great Day

Are you having fabulously extraordinary days, knocking things off your to-do list, moving full speed ahead toward fulfilling your potential, and living your dreams? Or maybe you're hitting the snooze button four or five times, rolling out of bed at the last second, grabbing some coffee and a stale donut, and then running out the door while brushing your hair. There is a better way; it just takes a little planning ahead of time to create a great morning routine, which is the foundation of a fabulous day and an extraordinary life.

1. Adjust Your Evening Routine

It all starts the night before. You need anywhere from seven to nine hours of sleep every night, so cut your binge watching off early enough to set yourself up for success. You'll sleep best if you stop looking at electronic screens at least an hour before you go to sleep. Stay away from alcohol and late night eating; they both mess with your sleep cycle. Set up a nice bedtime routine for yourself. Take a hot bath, read a book, or sit in front of a cozy fireplace with some relaxing music and candlelight. Instead of immersing yourself in social media, focus on creating a beautiful life for yourself.

The most important thing is to do a brain dump every night into a journal or a planner. Anything that's swirling around in your head needs to leave and get onto a piece of paper. It's awfully hard to go to sleep when you have all the things that you need to remember to do the next day flying around in your head. Instead, just write them all down, prioritize them, and then give yourself permission to forget about them until tomorrow. Next, write down a few things that you are grateful for and things that went well today. A positive mindset is one of the best things you can do for yourself. It's pretty much impossible to have an extraordinary life, or even a good life, if you are perpetually mired in negativity, so cultivate an attitude of gratitude.

Now for the actual morning routine. Set your alarm 30-45 minutes earlier than normal to give yourself time to get your day off to a great start.

2. Prayer

I like to start my day with morning prayer and devotions. Before I even get out of bed, I read the daily readings and devotions from my Laudate app, which is free in the app store. It also has an interactive digital rosary, which is really helpful for those of us who can't remember any prayers other than the Our Father and Hail Mary. I find that it's a nice way to get my day focused properly by starting with prayer.

3. Exercise

I don't do a full exercise routine in the morning, but I find it helpful to do squats, pushups, chair dips on my bathtub (tub dips), and a little stretching first thing in the morning. I swim 3 days a week in the afternoon, and I go for 30-60 min walks on other days weather permitting, so I don't do a full exercise routine first thing in the morning. You might want to do that, though, depending on your schedule. If you're strapped for time, there are some great HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts online that will work you hard in a very short time. They are high intensity workouts in short bursts. Just google "short HIIT Workout", and you'll find a 3 minute workout, a 7 minute workout, a 10 minute workout, etc. Try them out and find the ones that are a good fit for you.

4. Make Your Bed

This is a little thing, but it makes a big difference. Your bed is probably the biggest thing in your bedroom, and when you make your bed, your room looks neater instantly! When you go to bed in the evening, it's so much more inviting when the bed is made, and it adds beauty and restfulness to your bedtime ritual.

5. Make a Good Breakfast

Your brain works best when it's got some good fuel to work off of, so take a few minutes to make yourself a healthy breakfast. If you must have pastries, consider making them a Sunday treat only (your body will thank you!). Switch to something with some protein, healthy fat, and slow-burn carbs, and you will be satisfied and operating like a finely tuned machine until lunchtime. Here are some ideas:

- Plain Greek yogurt with fresh or frozen berries and a small handful of walnuts, pecans, or slivered almonds

- Avocado toast and a glass of milk

- Breakfast burrito

- Ham and veggie scramble with fresh fruit or whole grain toast (my personal favorite)

6. Unload/Reload Your Dishwasher

Take a couple of minutes to clean up your kitchen. You'll feel accomplished, and you'll thank yourself later when you don't have a sink full of dirty dishes with crusted on food (you'll also keep from attracting nasty pests like ants and cockroaches - yuck!).

7. Check in with your Big Dreams

This is super important, and it only takes a few minutes. Think about your goals and your purpose in life. Have you figured out your mission yet? If not, then think about that. If so, then think about which one or two things you can do today that will move you toward your big goals, and do those as early in the day as you can. It's too easy to use up your whole day putting out fires and then run out of time to do anything toward that big picture goal that you really want to accomplish. Prioritize!

Leather Journal for dreaming

Not sure what your purpose is? Read this: 5 Steps to Living with Purpose

8. Review Your List from the Night Before

Finally, now that you've gotten a good night's sleep, focused your day with prayer, done a little exercise, made your bed, eaten a good breakfast, cleaned up your dishes, and dreamed a little about your big picture goals, pull out that brain-dump list you made last night, and prioritize those things. Most of the time, you don't really have to do all those things in one day. A few of them may absolutely have to happen today, but the rest can be spread out over the rest of the week. Pick what you need to do today, and then focus on each of those things until they are done (if they are long term projects, pick an amount of time that you will spend on them today or a milestone that you are committed to accomplish today). It's really easy to be overwhelmed and procrastinate because of the overwhelm, but if you take those big tasks and chunk them down, you will find you can knock them out in a reasonable amount of time, and then you won't have to think about them anymore!

It takes about 21 days to establish a new habit, so expect it to take some extra thought and discipline for the first three weeks or so. As it becomes your new normal, it will become as automatic as breathing, and you will feel great about having taken care of YOU before you dive into all of your other obligations. Now go take a shower, brush your teeth, put on some awesome clothes, take a little extra time on your face and hair so you look as good as you feel, and have a fabulous day!

My daughter Lisa, ready to have a fabulous day!

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