Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. - Abraham Lincoln
Of all of the things I have learned in my last decade of life, one of the most important by far is the idea of how to metaphorically "sharpen the axe" of my own mind, body, and spirit. It's allowed me, over time, come from a place of physical, emotional, and mental instability to one of being able to show up relatively consistently, ready to give my best. It's not always perfect, of course, but vast improvement upon improvement has been reached by consciously focusing on my routines of self development.
Here are the top three main points that I focus on each and every day:
1) Wake up time
I wake each morning at 4:30 am like clock work. People usually instantly cringe when I bring this up. But the reason I do so is actually quite simple. I love waking up in the early morning, when all is dark and quiet. I like a slow start to the day, where by the time it's time to beginning truly working, I've already been up for nearly three hours. This gives an obvious psychological edge.
I also use this time to meditate, stretch, and then write whatever I'm working on for that day. If I can't bring myself to write for some reason, I will focus on reading something that ignites my imagination. I want to start each day with inspiration of some kind.
I don't know about everybody else, but when I wake up, my mind is an uncultivated mess of random runaway thoughts, dangling subconscious strands, and general noise. Meditation each morning helps me to slow down and assert a bit on control. It helps me check in with myself and to, both metaphorically and actually "remember who I am". I do this both in the morning and right before bed. It helps block off sleep as a "sacred time" and cuts down on runaway thoughts while in bed.
I have started religiously using the Calm meditation app, which I never thought I would pay for, but happily do each month because of the value it provides to my life. But, Calm is not the only app out there, nor do you need an app. Meditation is a great personal practice. Experiment and see what's right for you.
3) Stretching/Myofacial Release
This is one of my favorite nerd out areas which mystifies other people. Each morning and evening, I spend some basic time doing light stretching, then segwaying into using a foam roller and lacrosse ball on my muscles and on my tendons (lightly on the tendons, obviously). I use it primarily on my legs, upper back and arms, including my biceps, triceps and forearms. This helps my muscles stay loose and pliable throughout the day, which is key for both feeling amazing, but also staving off regular injury.
If you are interested in pursuing this area, I would recommend checking out two books. One is called "Desk Bound" and the other is called "Become A Supple Leopard", both by world renowned physio Kelly Starrett, who apart from being an absolute bad ass in the area is completely hilarious.
And that's it. My top three habits for each and every day, as it relates to showing up at my best.
I have other habits around productivity and health which I'll cover in a later podcast, but these are the three must haves in every single wake to sleep day of my life. They are mainstays that I stick with no matter what. Try them out if you are interested, and remember to let me know how they work for you.