A recent trend on social media caught my attention: the morning rituals of the mighty titans, such as CEOs of major multinationals and people like Anna Wintour, Oprah et al – people who are generally labelled as successful. Probably not by total coincidence, also a few of my colleagues have started talking about life-changing morning rituals (such as repeating affirmations in front of a mirror) as a way to significantly improve one’s life. I had to dig deeper into this.
I downloaded the hugely successful Tim Ferriss’ podcast about morning rituals of successful people. In this case everybody featured and interviewed was male. I was curious whether anything they’d say would resonate with me. First up was a retired Navy Seal trainer, who said he starts his every day by thinking about the enemy who lurks somewhere in the trenches, machine gun loaded, ready to attack. Eureka! This is me from Monday to Friday! When the enemy goes off while it’s still pitch dark, I cannot stop thinking about it. I hit snooze, yet the bastard is back harassing me in another 9 minutes. The Navy Seal’s other rituals went on as expected: skipping breakfast, instead skipping rope. A million burpees, surfing, that kind of stuff. I did not finish the 1,5 hour podcast. The rest just didn’t resonate.
Apparently the really successful people also wake up crazy-early, at around four. Seriously what’s there to do at four in the morning? I’ve had problems finding a pilates instructor to give classes at seven! I read Anna Wintour plays a game of tennis at an ungodly hour every morning. I trust her trainer is extremely well paid.
Many successful people meditate in the morning. I totally subscribe to this (unless I absolutely cannot get myself out of bed that extra 20 minutes earlier). Tim Ferriss writes a journal after his meditation. Now this may seem like a tall (and weird) order, but honestly, jotting down stuff for 15 minutes is actually not that bad. Mostly* I barely manage “I’m really fucking tired and want to go back to sleep” but at least I give my thoughts some space before switching on to the social media. And social media, my friend, must be the reason behind this nonsense trend of waking up in the middle of the night to do “rituals”.
I claim that the new mornings -movement actually is just a fancy way of stating the obvious: Don’t log on the internet first thing in the morning and be hit by the sensory overload crap before you manage breakfast. Everybody knows it’s never a good idea to check your work emails the minute you open your eyes. Read a paper (this can be done online obviously) rather that peoples’ rants on Facebook and Twitter. Think what you want to do with your day before letting someone else set your agenda. There’s no need to wake up at 4am to do this. Neither do you have to repeat affirmations to yourself in the middle of the night (unless you happen to be quite drunk, and don’t feel obliged even then).
What the titans have in common is discipline, not chatting to themselves while everybody else is still fast asleep. They are disciplined to keep a routine, and they have stamina and perseverance. True, some of these routines might demonstrate themselves in the morning hours, but us normal people don’t have to go all gung-ho over rituals of those who have drivers, nannies, make-up people, hair people and food people at their disposal 24/7.
I will try to to find my inner titan and stick to the following morning ritual as much as I can: Wake up, meditate, check news (on Twitter), drink water, have shower, eat breakfast and read more news as well as emails at the same time. Do make up and hair, get dressed. Leave house, realise forgot to jot down thoughts for 15 minutes and/or read inspiring literature. Feel virtuous nevertheless.