It has been said “win the first hour of your day, and you win the day.” But what does it mean to “win” the first hour of your day? Basically, it’s knowing how to plan your day and taking the time to do it – first thing, everyday. Further, it’s using your planning time to managing your mindset, intention and priorities for your day. If you set up a structure to tackle these three, you can create a life, day after day, that moves you toward your goals and makes you happy.
I think that most women would agree that mindset has a huge impact on our success. We tend to draw into our lives what is in our thoughts. So it’s imperative that we get our thoughts in the right place.
Successful people start their day with a routine that includes getting their head in the right place so that their thoughts follow. There’s a number of ways to do this. Some read the Bible. Some meditate. Some do Yoga and meditate at the same time. Some use an app like Headspace or The Five Minute Journal.
I check in with my spiritual values every morning. I read from my spiritual books, meditate on my truth and review what is most important to me in my life. I recommit to those values, spend some time in gratitude and visualize where I want to be. I do this to set myself up for the right mindset for the day, because from my mindset will flow my thoughts and actions.
As I meet challenges and choices throughout my day, I have a firm basis from which to respond…one that keeps me aligned with the woman I want to be. It’s so much easier to stay grounded when I check in with my values every morning. And since I focus on gratitude, it helps lighten the load when the day’s events might otherwise get me down. Since I devote time to visualization, I notice my momentum unfolding throughout each day, and that is hugely invigorating!
In short, getting my mindset in the right place every morning helps me direct my thoughts throughout the day in a way that I will be happy with at the end of the day. And day by day, I am building more and more of the life I want. You can do this too!
One of the most important questions to ask yourself every day is, “How do I want today to end? What does a successful day – today – look like?” Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you end up somewhere else.”
It’s true, so why leave your day to chance? Early in my career, I hoped for luck in my days. I hoped for good relationships. I hoped for a good day at work. I learned quickly…hope is not a strategy and luck is a word for people who don’t understand that we create our lives.
The fact is that good days, and good relationships are created by us. So why not intentionally make the days, the relationships and ourselves the way we want.
That’s the power of intention.
I mentioned earlier that every morning I think about the woman I want to be. That is part of my intention. I want to be giving, inspirational, effective and encouraging. I want to be calm and peaceful. I want to give others a hand up. I want to be authentic. I want to be unfettered and compassionate. I want to be confident and successful.
All these things are things that I review in the first hour of my day. Imagine how much different I respond when I meet with a rude person when I’m in touch with the calm, peaceful and compassionate woman I want to be.
Being in touch with my values allows me to act with intention – moving from “reaction” to “response.” I get to choose my actions, not from emotion, but from a deep sense of who I intend to be. That’s the power of intention. It moves us from who we are to who we want to be.
Last year I was at a conference. There was a woman in line going off on an angry tirade. She was rude, she was yelling and she was blaming the hotel clerk for her lost luggage. She looked at my friend and told her to get out of her way. As I stood there, shocked, my friend did the most amazing thing. She touched the woman’s arm and said, “Are you okay?”
The woman melted, breaking down in tears. She had just lost her home in a hurricane on the other side of the country, and hadn’t heard from her husband. Her fear and sadness came pouring out and suddenly the mood changed from tense to loving. All of this happened because my friend stayed in touch with who she wanted to be – she withheld judgment, didn’t take things personally, and acted from compassion, in alignment with her ideal self.
Another intention all women must have is self-care. Make sure to include your own self-care.
I’ve learned that if I’m not in tiptop shape, I’m not at my best with others or in my business. So I get up earlier than normal every day to give myself the gift of exercise. This is non-negotiable. It’s a top priority and is part of how I start and win my day. Because I’m intentional about this, I feel more confident, and I have more stamina for the day’s challenges.
Whether it’s Yoga, walking, running, stretching – whatever exercise makes you feel good – set an intention to give it to yourself. You’ll be happier and interact with others at a higher level when you’ve put yourself first in this regard. You can’t be there for others until you’re there for yourself. Resentments will fade because you’ve taken care of yourself.
This is the power of taking the first hour of your day to check in with the woman you want to be. Review it every morning. Lift yourself to a higher level and watch your thoughts and thereby your daily actions work together to upgrade your life.
Setting intention is also imperative to getting things done. Just like becoming who we want to be; getting done what you want to get done is not a matter of luck. It’s a matter of setting your intention through planning your days according to your priorities.
Many of us have way more to get done than is humanly possible. And that means we can end the day feeling like we failed. The best way to combat this is to use intention to plan your daily tasks. Ask yourself this question…”If I can only get one big thing done today, what is the most important thing I need to get done?”
When you narrow it down like that, you can’t fail. You set yourself up to get that one thing done, and everything else is gravy.
To be successful, you have to identify your overall life priorities. You have to know what are the “must haves,” versus the “nice to haves.” This is important to think through because we, as women, are pretty good at telling ourselves that everything is important. But that approach will not win your day. You have to know what is MOST important.
Sometimes this requires a chat with the boss. Sometimes this requires a chat with ourselves; or our family. But it’s important to figure out, so you can plan to win your days. You need an order of priority to make decisions about how to plan your days. If you don’t have a priority, you are approaching your days randomly – and that doesn’t win your day.
For instance, when I worked for someone else, I always made sure I understood what was most important to my boss and what was most important to my company. If I didn’t know, I’d ask. That way, I could plan to work on the most important things first.
Sure, sometimes priorities change day-by-day, or even hour-by-hour, but it’s important to make the decision to shift to a new priority consciously. In a work environment, some of the most valuable input you can give is when something doesn’t line up with priorities.
In my own business, I have a very simple order of priorities. I always work on the profit making projects first. Why? Because I cannot impact the world the way I want to if I am not making money at what I do.
The second priority is service to women. If I am good on the money making front, my second priority is to make sure I am serving women in a meaningful way. If I have two projects in a day, I will always choose the profit making activity first in my planning, then the service project. From there, I prioritize other things – like social media posts, writing and administrative tasks.
Think about the administrative tasks for a minute. This is the time suck that keeps employees, business owners and entrepreneurs alike from advancing their business. That’s because we tend to prioritize things that mentally “bug us” so we can get them off of our plate, so we can feel relieved.
That problem is, they are not the most important thing – meaning they don’t really move the needle toward our goals, happiness and success. We end up just being a clerical worker, instead of working on the bigger picture things that really move us forward.
From a business perspective, we likely chose to be our own boss to create more freedom and a bigger impact on the world. Prioritizing administrative tasks will NOT get us where we want to go. Earning a profit and serving others are what is going to get us there. So, prioritize the MOST important things first. The rest can wait.
WINNING YOUR DAY
So, winning your day (and all your days) is a matter of addressing your mindset, your intention and your priorities in the first hour of your day. It may take you longer than an hour, but the idea is to start your day with mindset, intention and priorities. Set things up how you want them to be, and according to what will produce results.
Remember, if you don’t do these things you are leaving your goals and happiness to chance. If you take the time in your morning to do this work, you’ll have clarity, confidence and a plan to drives your life where you want it to go. Make it a daily habit, and win your day – and you’ll be on the path to creating a life you love!
Lacy Schoen is the CEO of Team Lead, Inc., and Founder of Real Women Real Success. She is an author, speaker and coach specializing in women’s advancement in leadership and entrepreneurship. © 2018 Team Lead, Inc. All rights reserved.