I’d like to go on record and say that in my life I have not, or at least thus far, been a morning person.
Yes, long gone are the university days of sleeping until noon after a late night out with friends after a gruelling actuarial or calculus exam, but I’m also not ready to roll at 5:00am.
Still, I like to start my day around 7:00am, weekday or weekend, pretty consistently. I like having that stability in how I approach my morning because it 100% shapes my focus, behaviour and sentiment for the day. I like to religiously start my morning with exercise which puts me in the right frame of mind.
I’ve always enjoyed working out and have been a bit of a gym rat for over a decade. But things change, goals change, and I wanted to become more well rounded physically. I was done with the singular track mind of lifting weights! I wanted to include more functional training, while maintaining my strength.
I realized I could incorporate part of this into my FI plan by biking to work. With a bike, I can do a modest 10km every day and control my speed. I can crank it up and get my heart going or go more leisurely if I need a rest day.
I also started incorporating regular stretching and yoga into my morning routine, and I don’t think I’ll look back. The benefits are immense, especially with an office job. I found flexibility to be fleeting and I was tweaking my lower back on heavier deadlifts from time to time (form was fine!) – I have not had this issue since incorporating more flexibility workload. Yoga also provides me with some quiet time and allows me to focus.
So what do I do in the AM to try and maximize my own happiness? As soon as I wake up, I go to my mat with eyes half open and begin to stretch focusing on deep breaths. After 5-10 minutes of limbering up, I’ll go into yoga for 15-20 minutes. Some people will say that’s not a yoga practice but it increases my flexibility and brings me peace of mind, sharpening my focus for the day ahead.
After breakfast I get ready for my bike into work, 5km along the Rideau Canal. A gorgeous bike ride along the water into downtown where I literally only need to deal with cars for maybe 0.25km. I get into work and change in the locker room.
At this point in my day, I’m feeling loose, heart is pumping and I feel awake and sharp. At the end of the day, I can workout in my crazily free company gym, then bike home for another 5km. This completes, what I believe, to be a nice well-rounded and consistent exercise regime during weekdays (weekends may include some hikes).
But it all starts with the morning habits. Without starting my day with the stretching, yoga and biking, I feel out of whack. My mind wanders and it takes me longer to focus in the morning at work. Like most people, I like being productive so this is a bummer. And we all know bummers can weigh you down. This type of thinking, like investment yield, compounds throughout the day! It’s a slippery slope to start your day off on a shitty note.
So why not start off on the right foot, and snowball your happiness accordingly? Like your investments need you to put money aside, try putting aside time into your own physical & mental health investment account everyday; preferably as soon as you wake up and let things compound throughout the day! You don’t need to do a gruelling workout first thing in the morning, it can be a small deposit – like sitting cross-legged and meditating for 5 minutes, stretching for 5 minutes, doing some push-ups, anything! This also gives you a nice little confidence boost, increasing happiness and allows you to compound that happiness throughout the day.
Morning habits lead to a very happy existence indeed. And when you strip it all down, isn’t the fundamental principle you live your life by “To be happy”? I know it is for me.