The other week I had the honour of being interviewed by the lovely Ben Farmer on the ‘Why Speaking Matters’ podcast. At the time, I was staying with my friend in Austin, Texas, and was Skyping from his 11 year-old-son’s bedroom, my temporary sleeping quarters. At one point Ben asked me:
“What is your morning routine?”
I told him I used to have an awesome morning routine – I’d wake at 6am, do 30 minutes of stretching while listening to an inspiring podcast, then I’d have a healthy breakfast, then read for an hour, then write content for 2 hours. “But,” I lamented, “Since I’ve been travelling, it’s been really hard to keep this routine, because, you know, I’m always in a new environment.
“I don’t like making excuses for things…” I went on to say, and as I was talking I realised:
Christina, you idiot! You’re making excuses right now!
This was not lost on Ben. He said “Christina, if I were coaching you right now, I’d ask you: what’s stopping you from keeping up your routine?”
I thought for a moment. I had a whole house in which to yoga to my heart’s content. I had a full kitchen at my disposal. I had fast wifi and my laptop. What was holding me back?
It dawned on me that I had been using my circumstances as an excuse for not being my usual organised, productive self – most likely to make me feel better about not getting any work done. I had been telling myself Oh, I’m travelling now, so I’ll wait until I’m more settled to establish a proper routine again.
But there’s a big problem with this attitude.
You see, I had chosen to live a nomadic lifestyle. I don’t know where or when I’m going to ‘settle’ next. I realised that if I was going to be successful, I’d have to learn to make my environment work for me, not the other way around.
Putting it into practice
Fast forward a couple of weeks. After 35 hours in transit (it’s shocking when you realise how long it’s been since your last shower…), I finally arrived in Chiang Mai, Thailand from New York. Upon trudging into my hotel room exhausted and delirious, I sank into a blissful 10 hour deep sleep.
For some off reason, I woke naturally at 6am.
I knew what I had to do.
I got up and read through my positive affirmations. I put on my running shoes and headed out for a 30 minute jog. I came back to my room and did some stretching while listening to a podcast. I had a coffee and a banana, and got straight into blogging.
No snoozing. No email. No facebook. Just solid, focused productivity.
It felt awesome. I know that sticking with a new habit isn’t easy, but I’m going to repeat this routine as best I can until it becomes habitual. And once it becomes a habit, I won’t have to think about what to do. I’ll just do it. No matter what environment I’m in.
Are you making your own circumstances?
What is something that you’ve been wanting to achieve but haven’t? Perhaps you want to wake up earlier, be healthier, learn a new skill, write a book, get promoted or start your own business?
Whatever it is, think if you’re using your circumstances as an excuse for not getting it done, or taking action. Remember that ‘circumstances’ can be physical, financial, emotional or spiritual.
Perhaps you’re telling yourself you “don’t have time” to make healthy food, or you live “too far away” from the gym, or you want to be “financially stable before doing ___ “, or you “don’t have enough experience” to go for that job or promotion.
Just know that if you continue to use your circumstances to hold yourself back, you will NEVER get around doing that thing you want to do, because you will always find a new excuse. ALWAYS.
These were my excuses for not sticking to my morning routine:
I’m in a new environment, so it’s too hard to establish routine.
I went out late last night, so I can’t get up early.
It’s too hot to go out running.
Besides, if I go out, I may get lost.
I’m couchsurfing/staying with a friend, so I can’t do my own thing.
I don’t have a yoga mat to stretch on.
…all pretty pathetic, now that I think about it.
George Bernard Shaw once said:
People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.
If this quote resonates with you, write it on a post-it and stick it to your mirror. Make it a daily reminder. Then get out there and start making things happen. I know you can do it :)