When I was a teenager I took to heart the phrase “Start as you mean to go on.” I would start projects with the equal amounts of determination and force and I would hold strong until the project was done. This was the start of a strongly held, deeply embedded habit in me that, to not finish a project, would frustrate me. I’ve even been labelled a ‘Complete-Finisher’ and I wore it with a badge of honour.
If you wanted something done, give it me!
One of the biggest problems with this habit was that as I kept taking on projects, I would get the acknowledgement of doing so, reinforcing and deepening the habit. Acknowledgement in and of itself is not a problem until you look at what it’s reinforcing and any knock-on effects. Many behaviours are strengths until they are pushed to an extreme and then they can become a weakness or threat.
I was always ready to tackle a project and get it done except for when it came to me. I didn’t even think to put myself first. Scheduling me in the context of health, mindfulness, stress reduction, maintaining friendships, recreational pursuits all dropped away because I was busy finishing projects, getting the work done. I burned out. But did I learn after my first burn out? No, it’s taken years and a few big hits to knock some sense into me.
So now as I think about the phrase “Start as you mean to go on” it has new meaning. It’s about:
- doing what’s right for me to make sure I can go on strong;
- how I start my day to ensure it unfolds as close to how I expect;
- checking my goals and monthly, weekly and daily plans to ensure they are constantly aligned; and
- doing a reality check on how much I’ve done to look after me.
This takes effort as there is significant work involved to undo a long-held and deep habit.
“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine. ”
How do you start your day?
It’s easy and I recommend you google the morning rituals of millionaires or the uber successful to take lessons from their routines. Mark Zuckerberg is famous for minimising decisions by wearing the same t-shirt everyday. Richard Branson is known for sleeping with the curtains open so the sunrise hits his face and he can bounce out of bed. [While I’ve always been a morning person, we’ve just moved into a new home so we don’t have curtains or blinds in our bedroom, so by default I’m following Branson and I like it. Not sure my poor shift working husband is enjoying it!]
In Hal Elrod’s The Miracle Morning he explains his transformation from a near-fatal car accident (he was declared dead for 6 minutes), to living a successful and fulfilling life:
- Watch your thoughts as you go to bed, they set you up for tomorrow.
- Stop hitting the snooze button.
- Wake up and declare your purpose for the day.
- Have a morning routine that you can make a habit:
– purposeful silence in the morning: mediation, mindfulness, breathing exercises
– affirmations and visualisation
– exercise: there are apps that have 7 min workouts, so it’s not about time, it’s about movement. [I stretch and then walk our 3.8acre block)
– read for personal development
– write for gratitude and capturing your thoughts and feelings
- Share this routine with an accountability partner.
- Commit to your new routine for 30 days: Elrod advises that the first 10 days are hard to bear, the middle 10 days are easier but still foreign, and the final 10 days you’ll notice that you’ll enjoy it.
Even if the clouds are grey, there’s always something worth looking at as I walk the block. [The key is that to see the rainbow, you have to get up and go see it.]
What do you do to start as you mean to go on?