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Creating a More Successful Day With 5 Simple Steps

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How you start your day can be a critical part of having a successful day.
Your thoughts, feelings, and attitude first thing in the morning can shape the entire day ahead.
Does your alarm clock scream at you every morning to get up? Rather than facing the day with anticipation, do you have to drag yourself out of bed and then proceed through your morning routine with very little motivation, energy or enthusiasm? Here are five easy steps that can help you change that pattern and improve your attitude throughout the day.
1) Evaluate how you wake yourself up If you use an alarm clock, think about the sound that you use to wake up and what the volume is.
Is is a blaring alarm? The radio? Your cell phone? Is is soothing or does that sound jolt you out of a deep sleep? A loud sound that awakens you suddenly is stressful to your body and mind first thing in the morning.
Some people are able to program their bodies and minds to wake up at the time that they need to be up.
But others of us have not mastered that technique, so it's important to find a gentle alternative.
One way to have an easier transition in the morning from being asleep to being awake is to use a progressive alarm clock.
There a number of companies that sell clocks that wake you by starting off with a lower volume or with a light which gradually increases in intensity.
After years of jarring myself out of the comfort of sleep with a standard alarm or my cell phone alarm, the product I now use is the Verilux Rise & Shine Natural Alarm Clock.
The ratings on Amazon for this product are low, but I've been very happy with mine.
I use the pillow speaker and gradually wake up in the morning to the sounds of a running brook.
In the evening I gradually fall asleep to the sound of the ocean.
The Verilux is a little pricey if you're concerned about money, but you can always ask for it as a gift.
Hammacher Schlemmer (go to http://www.
hammacher.
com
) also makes a progressive alarm clock that seems to get good reviews, and there are others out there.
Just make sure to get one that turns on gradually or progressively.
2) Use the snooze time creatively Wake yourself up a few minutes early, but stay in bed.
Instead of going back to sleep, take the time between when you hit the snooze button and when your alarm next goes off to create your day in your mind.
This does not mean to start listing in your head everything you need to do in the next 16 hours.
That's much too stressful! It does mean to first take a few moments to think about the things in your life that you're grateful for.
Gratitude is a great emotion booster.
It's hard to feel lazy and unhappy when you are feeling grateful.
Think of anything you can - maybe your family, your dog, nice weather, a good night's sleep, the good meal you had with friends last week, anything you appreciate - and spend a few moments feeling grateful.
This step alone can change your feelings toward the coming day which leads to more success and productivity.
Next, use your remaining time in bed to imagine a successful day for yourself.
Visualize or imagine for yourself what your successful day looks like.
It might be completing a section of a project, getting the house clean, having a talk with your boss, or making it through the morning without yelling at your kids.
Imagining your success at something doesn't mean you have to do it, but it makes it more likely that you will.
Even if you don't accomplish what you'd hoped for, later in the day you should congratulate yourself on any part of it that you managed to do - and the next morning you should imagine your success again! 3) Stretch When your snooze time is up and you've thought about something to be grateful for and have imagined your success, give your body a gentle wake up by stretching.
This doesn't have to take much time and it doesn't have to be "exercise".
If you are physically able, just twist gently to each side and then gently reach forward toward your knees or toes to stretch out your back.
(Be careful if you have back problems - check with your doctor.
Although if you have an aching back, part of it might be because you don't stretch it.
) If you have a pet dog or cat, think of how they wake up.
Even an elderly animal takes a moment to stretch out a paw as they wake up.
Doesn't your body deserve the same? 4) Eat something for breakfast Remember the idea that breakfast is the most important meal? You don't have to eat right away, but having something healthy for breakfast gives your body and brain a boost, and helps you avoid the cravings for donuts or snacks from the machine at work.
A piece of fruit is a great starter for the day.
It's easy to digest and can sooth your sweet tooth if you have one.
Do you find keeping fresh fruit around a pain? Use frozen.
One of my preferred breakfasts is to put frozen berries in a plastic container, add sliced almonds, a little granola cereal, and pour a yogurt smoothie (from the grocery store) on top.
My house is busy enough in the morning that I don't get to eat it until later, so I take it to work with me and eat at my desk while I run through emails - by then the berries are thawed.
Experiment with what works for you, but if you want to physically feel better during the day, find a way to eat something with some nutrition in the morning rather than a jelly donut or cookies from the machine.
5) Don't let the little stresses of the morning add up to ruin your day before you even get out the door Mornings can be a hectic time in any household whether you're single or have a spouse and several children.
There's always the potential for a few mishaps or delays.
Do your best not to let the little things impact how the rest of your day goes.
Are you running late? Try to focus on getting there as soon as possible rather than worrying about what will happen because you're late.
Yes, this might be hard, but worrying rarely solves the problem and may cause you to be more stressed out and less efficient at getting where you need to be.
Are you late on a regular basis? If yes, then you need to evaluate your morning routine and either get up earlier or move a little faster.
Are the kids the ones who cause problems in your morning? If they're old enough, sit down one evening and talk to them.
Explain how much you need their cooperation in the morning and set up an incentive system where they are awarded for doing their tasks in the morning without causing you grief.
If they're babies or toddlers, then give up - just kidding - but you'll have to figure out what works for your little one.
I try to use incentive charts with my toddler because he loves to earn Matchbox cars, but it's not always successful.
And if it's some little thing like the coffee pot overflows, let go of your annoyance at the situation and find a solution.
Pick up your coffee on the way to work - and be grateful that someone made it for you.
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