Why I Changed My Morning Routine and Why You Should Too

A recent survey revealed that there are a number of similarities and differences across the generation spectrum when it comes to our morning routines. It probably comes at no surprise that younger generations wake up to their phones and quickly get pulled into social media, even before their feet hit the ground. I was guilty of being one of those people who immediately was engulfed in their social media feed, email, text messages and online news as soon as I woke up. I realized that this morning routine (or lack of routine) was feeding into my anxiety issues that I then carried with me the rest of the day. So, I decided to do some research and make some small changes to how I start my day. Here’s how:

  1. Sunlight—as soon as I wake up I open up my curtains. Truth be told, because I’m single and don’t have to listen to anyone else complain, many nights I sleep with my curtains open so that the sunlight wakes me up. I love the calm and peacefulness of waking up to the sun rising verses my phone alarm (which plays You Better Work B*itch by Brittney Spears).
  2. Water—immediately I go to the kitchen and have a glass of lemon water with pink Himalayan salt and get back in bed. Shout out to the Skinny Confidential podcast for this tip—here’s 20 reasonsof why this water/lemon/salt combo it good for you.
  3. Meditate—I meditate (in my bed, which I know is weird) for 10 minutes while I drink my water and use either the Headspace app or the Insight Timer (Morning Peace and Grace is my go-to).
  4. Make my Bed—after I meditate I make my bed. Making my bed everyday gives me so much personal satisfaction and makes me feel like I am starting the day with a sense of organization and accomplishment—and seriously it takes like 2-3 minutes.
  5. The Daily Podcast—I know I go on about how much I love this podcast, but honestly I am a former news-junkie who had to give up watching the news in recent months, so this podcast gives me my fix. And if you have an Alexa, you can just tell her to play
    “The Daily Podcast.”
  6. Tongue Scraping—while I listen to The Daily, I now do tongue scraping (yes, its gross but I can’t believe I just started to do this), and get ready for the gym depending on the day of the week. Depending on how long the episode is, I might finish it while I walk my dog or on my walk to the gym or listen to it during my morning coffee post workout.

This may sound like a lot, but most of this takes 15-20 minutes. My mind so feels much clearer and I am not starting my day feeling anxious. Honestly, it sets the tone for the rest of the day to be productive and me to be intentional with everything I do. My routine may not be for everyone, but do some research on the morning routines of highly successful people (or even ask your mentor) and then create your own. While I use my phone for meditation and podcasts, I make a point to not allow social media, email or news to cloud my mind first thing in the morning anymore.

My advice is  don’t just get up everyday, but wake up with intention and with a routine that sets the foundation for the rest of your day.

You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.  — John C. Maxwell

Stop, Drop (the Phone), & Think: How Spending One Hour a Week THINKING Can Change Your Life

How often do you stop everything you are doing to just think?

Or to take it one step further, to think, evaluate and plan out your day, week, month, year, future etc. If you are like me, the answer is probably that you don’t. As I reflected on this question a few months ago, I realized that I spend much more time planning the perfect vacation than I spend planning out my life (which is far from perfect). And by “planning” I don’t mean making never ending to-do lists, but instead actively evaluating different aspects of my life and thinking through what the actual steps are to reach my goals. For example, I like to think through what types of people do I need to proactively surround myself with, what commitments do I need to follow-through on, what places do I want travel to next, what areas of my life are causing me anxiety and what is my plan to address it, and of course, where do I want to take myself next professionally,

As you can see, I am never short on things to think about, and to be honest because even thinking can be overwhelming, I somehow have lived a life where I consider these things on the fly instead of spending real time “thinking” and “planning.”

So, I have recently made a decision to change this. I am now committed to taking roughly an hour each week to stop what I am doing, drop my phone and to just THINK. The first few weeks it was tough, but I am now starting to enjoy the time writing and mapping out my life.  I use a journal for this exercise, because using my phone or computer is too distracting. Here are a few of the specific questions I seek to answer every week, although these are personal for me, (you are free to borrow some!)


  1. What are my must do items for this week? How will I make sure I accomplish them?
  2. What did I procrastinate on and not accomplish last week? Why did I put them off and what can I do to ensure these things get done this week? (note: procrastination is a bad habit I am working on so it’s important for me to call myself out on this on this)
  3. Who are the people I want to contact this week and why? (I believe networking in some form should never stop)
  4. What new ideas do I have? How can I put them into motion? (one great idea can change your life—just ask Sara Blakey, the inventor of Spanx—and the youngest self-made billionaire.)
  5. What areas of my life are problematic or make me feel anxious, nervous, fearful, etc? What are my options to improve these situations? (You always have options.)
  6. Have I hurt or angered anyone this week? What can I do to change how they currently feel towards me?
  7. How do I feel about my job this week? What went well? What could have gone better?
  8. How did I manage my finances this week? Did I overspend? If so, what was it driven by? How can I get back on course?
  9. How many times did I work out this past week? What is my fitness plan/goal this week?
  10. Did I meet anyone this week who I am interested in romantically? If so, what can I do this week to show interest? If I haven’t met anyone, how can I open myself to meeting someone new this week? (Life is all about balance and my love life needs some attention too!)
  11. Did I have fun this week? If not, why? If yes, what made it fun and how can I continue it into next week?
  12. What was the highlight of my week? What the lowest point of my week?
  13. What do I want to accomplish this month, this year, etc? What are the steps to make it happen? (I don’t always address this question every week, but I’m thinking about it, updating it, and planning for it).

I found taking time to think about the answer to these questions, and plan for the weeks, months, and years forward gives me the type of clarity and perspective for my life and my future that I so desperately have needed. In a day and age where it’s impossible to put down our phones, I challenge everyone to do so, and to just take time and THINK. It’s a simple concept, that can truly change your life.

 

The Building of a Millennial Digital Brand

Millennials are the first to be raised with modern technologies such as cellphones and readily available internet. While millennials would not have it any other way, this does pose some unique challenges and opportunities when it comes to your digital personal brand.

Your Digital Brand Now Also Serves As Your Resume and/or Career Bio. That’s right, employers will definitely be checking our your online activity before making a decision to hire. Conduct your own digital audit. Google yourself, clean up any public social media profiles and switch your personal ones to private.

A Credible Brand Will Allow You to Connect With Others Who Share Your Passions and Interests.  If your digital brand portrays you in the right light, it will allow you  to explore new horizons when it comes to friendships and mentorships, thus enhancing your ability to collaborate and connect with people from all over the world.

The Right Digital Brand Can Put You In a Position to be Presented with Opportunities. You’d be surprised just how many opportunities find you when you have a strong digital personal brand. You don’t have to search for worthwhile opportunities  they will start to come to you so always make sure your contact information is up to date.

Though building a personal brand is vital to compete and make a professional impression, millennials should always remember to be authentic. Employers, partners and customers will be able to tell if you’re not being your true self.

The Opposite of Networking is Not Working

In Chapter 6 of The Millennial’s Playbook to Adulting, I give eight networking 101 tips. Even though I secretly hate going to networking events, I understand their value especially in a field like mine where I am independent consultant and a lot of opportunities for my firm are based on connections. Tonight, I attended a networking event, and after I got home I evaluated myself against my 8 tips. Here’s my score card:

Tip #1: Do some homework before the event.
Grade: F
Why: This was actually an event where they publish the name and titles of attendees before the event. Even though I registered last week, and I had every intention of looking up the attendees and “maybe” even reaching out to a few people, life/work got in the way and I didn’t get to it.

Tip#2: Create your own elevator speech
Grade: B+
Why: My firm is going through a rebrand and tonight’s event was my first time to give my new elevator speech. While I think I winged it well, I should have probably practiced it out loud a few times before the event.

Tip #3: Target the right arrival time
Grade: B
Why: The event was from 6-8pm. I planned to arrive at 6.30pm and needed to leave at 7.45pm. I arrived at 6.45pm which was a great time, but I had to slip out during the “thank you for coming” speech from the hosts and did not get to close out a convo.

Tip #4: Set a goal of meeting at least three new people at an event
Grade: A+
Why: Talked to 6 people, got 3 business cards and gave 4 people mine.

Tip #5: Step up to the singles
Grade: A+
Why: 2 of the 6 people I talked to had the desperate look of someone please talk to me. So I did.

Tip #6: Mix and mingle and mix some more.
Grade: A
Why: For an event I was only at for an hour, meeting 6 people means I was spending about 10 minutes with each person. Of the six only one was I at a loss for how to end the conversation, but luckily she eventually said she had to head out (sigh of relief).

Tip #7: Don’t be afraid to join a convo
Grade: C
Why: When I first walked into the event there was a group near the door who I wanted to join but I wasn’t “ready” just yet. Instead I headed to the bar, and naturally joined the conversation of the group standing in line for a drink. Sometimes alcohol is an easy ice breaker.

Tip #8: Exchange info with (almost) everyone you meet.
Grade: B-
Why: I got 3 cards of the 6 people I met. One women forgot her cards.  Another woman walked away before I could ask for her card. The last gentleman I was talking to we never got a chance to exchange info because the program started and I had to leave out.

Overall, I think I did good. Key info questions were, have you attended this event before and my go-to, what brings you here? Next step is to send an email to the 3 people I met tomorrow, and connect with them on LinkedIn.