6 Ways to Jumpstart a Successful Day

Paying attention to how you begin your day can help you set the stage for the rest of it.

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Curt Rosengren
Have you ever noticed that the way you feel first thing in the morning often sets the stage for how you feel the rest of the day? You wake up on the wrong side of the bed, and that side of the bed follows you to work. Or, something great happens first thing in the a.m. and that feeling echoes through the rest of your day. If something like how our days start off can have such a powerful effect on how we feel, not to mention how we perform—how often are you really at your peak when you feel cranky or gloomy?—then why is it that most of us pay so little attention to it?

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Want to jumpstart your success on a daily basis? Start your day with a little Triple M--that's Morning Mood Management. If you’re like most people, you probably climb out of bed in the morning and then it’s off to the races. How you feel is just the first domino that falls, knocking over a series of similar dominoes as you race through your day.

But what if you took a more conscious approach? What if you chose to consciously invest in the kind of mood and outlook you wanted to ride into your day? What difference could that make?

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Here are several ways to add some Triple M to your morning routine:

Do a mood check. I wish I could say I’m one of those people who wake up all bubbly and happy, but I’m not. I often find that my attitude first thing, as I’m lying there in bed, is significantly less than inspiring. One thing I often do as I’m gathering up the motivation to get out of bed is a simple mood check. I notice how I’m feeling and, if it is on the negative side, I’ll ask some variation of, “Where do I want my focus to be right now?” Shockingly, the answer to that question is never the problem du jour or whatever it is that I’m dwelling on. And by noticing how I feel and asking where I want to direct my attention, I take it off of that unconscious autopilot and put my hands back on the wheel. It doesn’t necessarily turn me into happy-morning boy, but it does prevent me from unconsciously setting the negative dominoes in motion right from the get-go.

Gratitude/positive journaling. One of the most effective ways I have explored for setting the tone of my day is positive journaling. That might look like your standard gratitude journaling (i.e., writing about things you feel thankful for in your life), or it could expand to a broader scope, like experiences you enjoyed, or possible ways to bring more of what feels good into your life. The idea is to create a negativity-free zone where you can set the positive perspective in motion.

This isn’t about pretending that the negative doesn’t exist. Most of us get far more than our share of opportunities to focus on the negative throughout the day. It’s like a noxious weed that chokes out the positive. This is simply creating a space where we have the chance to really immerse ourselves in what’s good.

Meditation. Meditation can be another great way to pause and consciously set the stage for your day. When we jump out of bed and hit the ground running, it’s easy for that frantic pace to spin out of control right from the start. It’s the antithesis of conscious awareness. Investing time in meditation first thing in the morning can help you feel grounded and solid so you are able to move into your day more consciously, rather than reactively.

Positive reading. The words you allow into your brain are mood food. If you wake up and the first thing you do is turn on the news, which tells you the latest ways we’re all doomed, what kind of mood are you nourishing? Spending time with a positive, motivating, or inspiring book on the other hand, can engage your mind in a positive way, leaving you feeling good about the world.

Positive audio. The commute to work is another great place to do some Morning Mood Management. Audio books about motivating or uplifting topics (whatever that looks like for you), or inspiring stories are another way to feed your brain the kind of mood food that can set your day off on the right track.

Plan the positive. Explore directing your attention to the positive things you could do today (or this week, or this month), or the enjoyable experiences you might have. Direct your attention to the pleasant encounters you could have with the people in your life you like. In short, start plotting the positive. This might be part of your positive journaling, or it could be something you make a habit of doing in bed just after you wake up, or on the commute to work.

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I’m realistic enough to know that carving time out for these can be a challenge. So I’m not saying, “Well, just spend an hour in the morning meditating, or journaling.” I am saying, though, that it’s worth exploring how you can incorporate something into your morning. Maybe that is a five-minute mood check when you first wake up. Maybe it’s setting the alarm ten minutes earlier so you can journal for ten minutes. Maybe it means looking at the library to see what kinds of audio books are available for your commute. Even a little Morning Mood Management is better than none.

Feed your brain positive mood food, and exercise its ability to look for what’s good. Recognize that much of what we experience depends on what happens between our ears. The exact same challenging situation can happen to two different people, one with a positive outlook and one with a negative outlook, and the actual experience of it can be completely different.

You’re not going to avoid bumps along the way. You’re not going to avoid challenges. But how you meet those bumps and challenges, how you perceive them and how you engage them, can make a world of difference in how unpleasant they are. Not only that, the more you focus on the positive, the more inclined you are to notice the positive naturally. And the more you notice the positive, the more positive your world actually is.

After years as a professional malcontent, Curt Rosengren discovered the power of passion. As speaker, author, and coach, Rosengren helps people create careers that energize and inspire them. His book, 101 Ways to Get Wild About, and his E-book, The Occupational Adventure Guide, offer people tools for turning dreams into reality. Rosengren's blog, The M.A.P. Maker, explores how to craft a life of meaning, abundance, and passion.