Golden Mornings: Can we really get motivated from the first minutes of the new day?

by - May 15, 2017

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When it comes to motivation, psychology's got it covered. You are intrinsically motivated to start the day, because you are eager to welcome whatever it may bring you. When you are extrinsically motivated, you do it not because you really want to go to work, classes or run errands, but because you have to. Of course, there is also a good body of behaviourist, cognitive and humanistic theories, but I'm not going to bore you with those now.

In practice, we use theories, so they can be applied to behaviour. However, I don't think a complicated explanation of low motivation to face the day will be much of help to us in this case.
Motivation can be down to the simple question: how willing are we to wake up in the morning and leave the safety of our duvets and homes?

Waking up with a smile can be a difficult task whether the reasons for your morning grumps are work-related - the job you hate, the unrealistic demands of your boss that boost your anxiety rather than your motivation, the annoying co-worker, the long commute to name a few, or due to more personal struggles. And while I'm not one of the firm supporters of the belief that the way you start the day can dictate the tone of it throughout, I think we should not miss out on the opportunity to feel calm and content for an hour or so before the daily stress kicks in. We may not be fully able to control the progress of our day, but we can try to set a brighter beginning. Based on selected research and a few personal insights, here's our little guide to golden mornings (or the closest possible we can get to them):

Use the morning to focus on the goals you have. Setting goals would give you the extra drive you need and also remind you of the reward, which will gear you up to conquer the day. If you struggle to identify any goals, spend a few minutes to reflect on what's important to you and what your short-term and long-term goals could be and how this day can bring you a step closer. According to a concept, supported by the Goal-setting theory, a goal would be most effective if it's kept specific, measurable or meaningful, achievable, realistic and time-related (for convenience remember the acronym SMART).

The smell of coffee? Maybe the taste of herbal tea? Cosying up to your headphones and some music en route to work? Wearing the first summer outfit of the season? Catching up with a friend at lunch? Think of at least one thing that you'd enjoy today and let it motivate you to get up and get ready.
For those of you who feel open to trying out different techniques, you could mentally list all the things you feel thankful for as the very first thing you do when you open your eyes and still lie in bed.

Try not to engage with any negative thoughts that may arise, otherwise you may end up with spiked anxiety levels and that's no recipe for a fun morning. Negative thoughts can be persistent and sometimes the most successful option is not to let them run wild by briefly acknowledging them and moving on or by quickly replacing them with positive ones.

You've probably heard and read this many times before, but evidence shows that it could actually work. If you're a purist who doesn't like to cloud their heads with thoughts and goals that early in the morning, just take a few slow or rhythmic breaths and relax your muscles from the alarm-induced tension. A personal favourite is breathing through the nose, holding the air in for several seconds and then exhaling through the mouth. Breathing and being aware of your body will eventually balance you and prepare you for the day ahead.

This widely-used tool is not directly linked with motivation, but more with reframing your mind-set so you don't feel the dread of the mornings. It's founded on the key principle that we assign a meaning to situations and events based on how we interpret them. Start by observing your negative thoughts, become more aware of them and then you can reframe them.

Ultimately, after some time you should be able to find a method that works best for you. The simplest way is to change the thought and the way you usually perceive the mornings. If 'Mondays are so busy at work!' is among your first thoughts of the day, you can contemplate why the busy factor evokes a negative reaction from you and reframe it. Do you feel pressured to outperform yourself when the workload is too heavy? Could you perhaps grant yourself permission to take more short breaks regardless of how busy the day can get? It's just an example, the reasons are unique to you.

... And if nothing works, please don't forget that some days are better than others and all we can do is go to bed and wake up on the next day, hoping it will be the better one.

My morning motivation? The looking forward to the next weekend and any chance to feel the sun.

In Daily Motivation we will lead the fight to stay motivated, whether it's about your job, the boring tasks you have to deal with, the workplace-built intolerance, finding the strength and time for your real passions, follow what truly makes you happy, or just live and wake up without the daunting feeling of having to go through another rushed day. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

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