The two most important times in your day are just before you go to bed, and just after you wake up. These are your “bookends.” If you learn to master the bookends of your day, you will quickly gain greater control over the rest of your life.
You are the most important human being in your own life. While most people are trying to impress other people, it’s far more inspiring to live a life that impresses yourself. Rita Mae Brown said, “The reward for conformity is that everyone likes you but yourself.”
Living in alignment and with intention is how you create inner confidence and peace. It does not matter how many times you’ve failed in the past. It doesn’t matter how messy or conflicted your life may be right now. You can quickly learn to develop confidence and a deep sense of self-love. George Eliot said, “It is never too late to be what you might have been.”
With this short routine, you can come to love and appreciate yourself far more. This love and appreciate will give you momentum and motivation to make increasingly better decisions throughout your days, so that overtime, your life gets exponentially better.
10 minutes before going to sleep:
“When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates.” — Thomas Monson
Before going to bed at night, pull out your journal and simply report to yourself what you did that day. If you’re a fast typer, you’re better off using a computer than a handwritten notepad for this journaling session.
Report and account to yourself how the day went. Be completely honest and vulnerable with yourself.
Share both your wins and your losses. Think about the triggers that may have set you off on a wrong course. In the process of accounting what happened during your day, write down how things could have gone differently if you had been more intentional.
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According to Dr. Martin Seligman, former president of the American Psychological Association, there are several differences between optimists and pessimists.
- Pessimists explain negative events as a permanent fixture of their identity (something they can’t change). They view themselves (or life in general) as the problem, and there is nothing that can really be done.
- Optimists explain negative events as situation and short-lived. When something goes wrong, they focus on situational factors that can be altered and improved.
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During your evening journaling session, write down how you could have altered the situation. Have no negative judgement about yourself. Just report back what happened and what you learned.
While writing about what happened and what you learned, your mind will naturally begin projecting the future and what you could be doing differently. Ride this natural stream of thought and begin writing down how you plan to live tomorrow differently.
Write in an affirmative way how you want to see tomorrow happen. Be positive and optimistic. Thomas Edison said, “Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious.” As you write down how you intend to see tomorrow, feel and imagine yourself being excellent tomorrow. Make a mental commitment that you’re going to wake up at a certain time and that you’re going to crush the next day. Imagine yourself the following evening in the same place you are now reporting how the day went, and being able to report incredible success and progress.
Write down the potential barriers that could come up. In psychology, planning for obstacles is known as “implementation intentions.” Write about how you plan to face those obstacles or challenges when they come.
Avoiding problems is far more intelligent than trying to overcome them. Consequently, write down how you can avoid being triggered into negative traps in the first place.
Even if you had a bad day, this routine will make you feel better. You’ll have been honest with yourself about what happened. You’ll have been able to re-live your day. Just by virtue of that fact that you’re spending some time reflecting on how things went, you’ll begin to feel gratitude for the little things.
If you had a negative experience with a friend, child, or spouse, your love for them will deepen as you reflect on how things could have gone differently. You’ll commit to yourself that you will be better tomorrow. This commitment to yourself will also be a commitment to those you love — that tomorrow you will shift the pattern and help them feel more love than they ever have before.
Over time, you’ll begin looking forward to these evening reporting and accountability journaling sessions. They will become one of the most treasured parts of your day. They will inspire you to live better each day so that you can honestly report to yourself how well you did.
Your love for yourself will increase because day-by-day, you’ll be living more intentionally and congruently. Mahatma Gandhi has said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
The more harmonious your life becomes, the happier and more confident you’ll be. This evening writing session will help you develop incredible love and compassion for yourself. Jean Shinoda Bolen said, “When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.”
10 minutes after you wake up:
Research confirms the brain, specifically the prefrontal cortex, is most active and readily creative immediately following sleep. Your subconscious mind has been loosely mind-wandering while you slept, making contextual and temporal connections. Creativity, after all, is making connections between different parts of the brain.
In an interview with Tim Ferriss, Josh Waitzkin, former chess prodigy and tai chi world champion, explains his morning routine to tap into the subconscious breakthroughs and connections experienced while he was sleeping.
Unlike 80 percent of people between the ages of 18–44 who check their smartphones within 15 minutes of waking up, Waitzkin goes to a quiet place, does some meditation and grabs his journal.
In his journal, he thought-dumps for several minutes. Thus, rather than focusing on input like most people who check their notifications, Waitzkin’s focus is on output. This is how he taps into his higher realms of clarity, learning, and creativity — what he calls, “crystallized intelligence.”
Writing in your journal first thing in the morning has a few key purposes:
- To clear your mind
- To trigger and remind yourself your goals
- To experience deep gratitude for the day
- To help you get creative insights about people you need to reach out to, or projects you’re working on
Your mind is beautifully attuned first thing in the morning. If you learn how to use your morning-mind, you’ll get the most important ideas of your life. You’ll get insights and inspiration that will help you live better throughout your day. This is the crystalized intelligence that Waitzkin is talking about.
Important ideas can change your life. Those ideas won’t come if you don’t give your mind the space to focus. That’s where this morning journaling comes in. This morning session is more meditation than anything else. You’re allowing your mind to loosely wander while you write down your goals, dreams, plans, and what you aim to accomplish that day.
As you remind yourself of your goals and dreams, you want to be highly affirmative about what you intend to do that very day.
Who do you want to be?
How do you want to show up?
What do you need to focus on first?
Who do you need to reach out to?
Affirm in writing that you’re going to succeed that day. Affirm in writing that you will accomplish all of your goals, both short and long-term. By affirming and deeply visualizing and experiencing yourself succeeding, you are creating an emotional climate of success. You are creating a powerful state from which to operate in the world. This is a peak-state.
The goal of the peak-state is to be completely in the moment, to clear your mind, and to avoid unhealthy subconscious loops. You want to be completely clear on how you’re feeling RIGHT NOW.
Do these emotions match the goals you want to achieve?
Do these emotions match the future you are trying to create?
If your current emotions do not match the future you’d like to create, then your behavior will be low-level and your day will be a repeat of the past. In order to create a new future, you need to proactively create the energy and emotions that matches the future you intend to create. You do this at the beginning of your day so that you can live out your day from those emotions. If you start right, you’ll be far more likely to continue right throughout the day.
While writing in your morning journal, feel and know that you’re going to succeed today. Know that the goals you aspire toward are already yours. Allow yourself to experience deep gratitude while writing in your journal about the accomplishments you’re going to have that day.
Be as imaginative as possible. Albert Einstein has said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
Allow your mind to go places. Don’t squelch inspiration. Allow bold, big, and incredible thoughts to flow to you as you meditate and write in your journal. Be completely optimistic and affirmative about the goals and plans you set.
Know in your mind that you can do it. As Napoleon Hill famously wrote, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.”
This whole process will allow you to not only get clear, but also to get inspired. Every morning, you should be elevating your way of thinking and living. Your goals should continually be expanding because each day you’re gaining confidence and learning.
The clarity, affirmation, gratitude, and inspiration from this routine put you into a deep level of presence, creating a peak-experience. According to Abraham Maslow, “Peak experiences as rare, exciting, oceanic, deeply moving, exhilarating, elevating experiences that generate an advanced form of perceiving reality, and are even mystic and magical in their effect upon the experimenter.”
These peak experiences are rare because very few intentionally create them. You can and should be having peak experiences daily. As you have peak experiences every morning, and then act from those experiences, you live an intention and present life. You reshape your subconscious and become a super-learner, allowing all of life to come in.
Peak experiences are rare for most people because they have deep emotional blocks, which cloud their minds. Due to the lack of clarity and lack of routines to get clarity, people live reactively to their environment and their body. They seek dopamine and distraction and sugar and carbs and the downward cycle continues — as does their confidence, self-love, and imagination. Over time, they become pessimistic about themselves and about life.
“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.” — Mark Twain
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection” — Buddha
“Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it. ” — M. Scott Peck
“To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance” — Oscar Wilde
These journaling sessions can absolutely change your life. In the evening, you develop greater love, appreciation, insight, and compassion for yourself. You notice things you may not have seen in the busyness of your day. You report your learning so that it becomes more engrained. You make better plans for the future and positively affirm to yourself that you’ll succeed.
As you write in the evening, you’ll shift your subconscious patterns while you sleep. When you wake up, you’ll have new memories, new emotions, and new neural connections to work with.
As a result, it’s very important not to immediately get sucked BACK into the old reality of yesterday. Don’t pull out your smartphone. Instead, seize access to those new neural connections through meditation and journaling. Go to a quiet place and pull out your journal. Begin writing down the things you plan to achieve and the person you intend to become.
During your writing session, you’ll come to expect flashes of insight during the writing process itself. Psychologists call this epiphany ability and self-help gurus call this auto suggestion. They are both a way of saying that you’ll get inspired insights and clarity if you give yourself the space, and if you come to truly believe and feel what you’re seeking to have in your life.
When you do these two routines, your behavior DURING YOUR DAY will improve. You’ll stop being so reactive to environments, emotions, and other people. You’ll avoid terrible situations that were once your norm.
Your days will get better and more intentional. Your life will transform. You’ll begin living your dreams. Soon, those dreams will expand through the inspiration you get and the experiences you create. Your confidence will soar because you’ll be living in greater alignment with yourself.
You’ll love yourself.
You’ll have greater confidence.
You’ll appreciate those you love more.
You’ll be happier.
Your emotions will translate to those around you and they’ll love and appreciate you more.
You’ll be far more present and powerful.
You’ll end the cycle of addiction. You’ll be clear.
Ready to upgrade?
I’ve created a cheat sheet for putting yourself into a PEAK-STATE, immediately. You follow this daily, your life will change very quickly.
This post first appeared on Medium.