This article is part of the fascinating series, Mindshift.
During sleep, your conscious mind shuts off. You dream of soft kittens dancing on top of a piano.
And then you wake up.
Your mind activates. Familiar thoughts flood into your conscious brain. Almost instantly, you gain awareness of your self-image, responsibilities, relationships, finances, ambitions, and how desperately you need to wash your hair.
Your mind has set up much of your day before you even stretch your legs. You aggregate all of your beliefs and experiences together to form expectations for the day, and it won’t likely be too different from yesterday. Ricky the plumber expects to fix somebody’s sink and have a beer after work, like always.
There are issues with this way of reality, because if you’ve been a lazy bum for all your life, or anything less than your best, you will naturally expect this performance upon waking up. You’re setting yourself up for failure unless you do something about it.
Every day can be a fresh start! With a morning mindshift, you can bypass your default settings and recalibrate your mind to make each day new.
First, the old way of living must die to make room for the new you. Establish this IMMEDIATELY upon rising. If you do it any later, you risk getting into your old rhythm, which could start as innocently as taking a shower.
It has been well established in the scientific community that our neurons form pathways, and the pathways that you use the most become stronger. Like trails in the woods with frequent use, these paths encourage further use! A person addicted to gambling will have developed powerful neural pathways that compel him to play “just one more hand of blackjack.”
Get Ready To…Mindshift!
As you roll out of bed onto the floor, choose to forget how a typical day like this might go for you. Admit that you can do nearly anything you want to do today, and in any order, because it’s TRUE! Now with a clean slate, decide how you’d prefer to live today, and make plans to do it. Write them down. Where your new plans overlap your old ones, with common tasks like taking a shower, brushing your teeth, or eating breakfast, alter how you perform them.
It’s good to change these routine tasks while carrying out your “fresh start” plans for three reasons…
- It reinforces the idea that today is different. You’re not going through the motions, you’re brushing your teeth for twice as long, and you’re starting with the bottom left teeth instead of the top right. If you don’t do this, and those neural pathways get moving in the way they’re used to moving, and then it will feel like your typical day. Veer from the start, because you’re creating a completely new standard.
- You’re proving to yourself that the old way is NOT the only way. The biggest cause of ruts is disbelief. Those who don’t believe they can change their situation, never will. So by changing something easy – such as showering with a different water temperature – you’re really gaining confidence that will help you change bigger things, like actually pursuing your dreams for once!
- The ability to change has a muscular component to it, and this is exercise. You can’t go from never changing anything to changing your life permanently at will. It takes time and effort to build the mental fortitude, insight, and skills to make meaningful positive changes to your life. Altering minute details of common tasks is great exercise for the mind that desires change, but needs to train for it.
And let me just say, overcoming years of bad habits is difficult. Every day you don’t fight them, they grow stronger and establish themselves deeper as a part if who you are! Yikes.
But think about the power of this concept. Every day is a new opportunity. You can try this every single day, and any prior failures are destroyed when you give yourself a clean slate each morning. This is not a trick as much as it is a commonsense way to orchestrate life. Let’s take advantage of the 24 hour segments that make up our life.
As you continue to learn and grow, you might find a particular morning routine that you love – one that always seems to set you up for a great day. You can continue to do this until it forms into a new habit of excellent living. Now you’re building neural pathways in the right direction!
The ideal end goal is to wake up with the mind primed for success (however you define success). If your mindset gives you a chance, you’ll do well and persevere to meet your goals. But if your mindset expects what has always happened before, you won’t exceed those results!
Today is a new day and a new opportunity. Go get ’em, Lion.