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How do you start your day?

What’s your morning routine?

There’s something vital about starting our day as we mean to continue. I like to have a morning routine that involves things that fuel me like meditation, breath-work and exercise but I’m not always consistent.

I had an unhealthy end to last year. I suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning which left me really weak. I largely stopped my morning routine and going to the beach for a jog and swim etc. I could barely make the five minute walk to the beach, let alone back up the hill.

Then while I was in Colombia in January, I didn’t have a routine at all. So when I came back to Ibiza in February I realised that I needed to start committing to a healthy morning routine again.

Colombia in January

Over the years I’ve been inspired by the Japanese practice of ‘Kaizen’.

It’s based on the notion that if you want to build a habit, do it for just one minute a day. Over time, it’ll naturally become two, three, four, five minutes.

I have so many different activities that I can enjoy in the morning: breath-work, meditation, exercise, Yoga, Qi Gong, visualising and journaling to name a few. I was recently experimenting with doing ten different things for a minute each. It’s easy to do them for just one minute! What I’ve found is that as soon as I start doing what’s good for me, I get more energy and want to do more – the upward spiral.

My journey with NLP has had a lot to do with how I, and we, address unhealthy habits that can lead to the downward spiral. Patterns like anger, frustration, overwhelm or stress serve a function, but they clearly also hold us back from our full potential.

A large part of my NLP journey has been working through these patterns and moving towards healthier habits. Incrementally and consistently continuing to ‘do the work’ and having increasingly healthy and empowering beliefs and behaviours. The question is, how do we do this given all the challenges we face?

James Clear wrote a book called Atomic Habits where he shares a model for starting with small, incremental changes that make a big difference over time. Like ‘Kaizen’, it’s a kind of ‘bottom up’ approach.

By contrast, a lot of the work I’ve done over the years has been ‘top down’. A focus on awakening at the levels of purpose, identity and values: making shifts at these higher levels trickles down into our behaviour. 

As my mentor Gene said, “behaviour is an expression of identity”. Once we concurrently declare, for example “I am healthy”, we will naturally make healthy choices.

These days I am of the opinion that it’s not either bottom up or top down. It’s both. NLP is sometimes described as the study of what works and both approaches can and do work.

So for me right now, I’m sticking with making these tiny, incremental ‘bottom up’ changes to my morning routine that will help me form healthier habits.

At the same time – thinking ‘top down’. I am healthy. I am vibrant. I am committed. And recognising the real value and larger purpose these ways of being serve beyond myself. These decisions and ways of being have profound implications for us, and those around us.

I recently watched a video of an elderly guy who used to be overweight and had various health issues. At the age of 65 he started going to the gym and then got a marine as a coach. He’s now 84 and remarkably fit and strong. That’s inspiring, to see an example of how someone can commit such remarkable change and to being healthy and strong at any age.

One question you might ponder is “who do you need to be today in order to be your best self in the future?”

If you’d like to dig a bit deeper, take a few moments and centre yourself. Visualise your best self in 5, 10 or 20 years. Get clear and associated with this vision of you being your best self. What does this look and feel like?

Now come back to the present and ask yourself this question again – who do I need to be today, in order to be my future best self?

Rinse and repeat as an atomic habit. 

I’ll leave you with these thoughts for now. Enjoy!

Love, Tristan

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