When weighing a new opportunity for my own growth, I always ask myself one question: Does it scare me?
If the answer is yes, I act.
Recently, I received an unexpected phone call from an old friend. They wanted to run something by me and check my interest in a new project. After listening to him, I checked my calendar. I had just had a client cancel and because of that, the time he needed me for, I was suddenly free.
Instantly, I jumped at the opportunity.
Because I was afraid of what might happen if I said yes.
As a person who thrives on routine, habits, and discipline, I love knowing what is coming next. I plan my calendar religiously, oftentimes setting appointments weeks into the future. Obviously, I coach my clients to do the same.
There is power in routine. Freeing up our minds from the chaos of the day-to-day is a powerful way to get more done in less time.
At the same time, I challenge myself with new opportunities by asking one powerful question.
Does it scare me?
If the answer is yes, I force myself to try it.
If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try. – Seth Godin
Life, growth, progress, abundance, goal achievement, happiness, fulfillment, all of it happen when we step outside our comfort zone.
Comfort zones bring death. They slowly destroy and erode our souls, our brains, and our bodies. By courageously stepping out into the unknown, we live a life worthy of the greatness coursing through our veins.
That next client.
The dream vacation.
Your future spouse.
A long-established business.
All of it happens in the space outside of your comfort zone.
So go for it.
Ask yourself: Does it scare me?
If it does, go for it. You’ll be surprised what you learn about yourself, what you achieve, and the joy you find in the unknown.
Recently, I took my oldest son on a two-day camping trip. It was the start of his milestone ceremonies as he transitions to manhood. Our theme this time was, “Everything has consequences.”
I am designing these milestone ceremonies to happen at significant moments in his biological development. At each age and stage of life, he will discover more responsibility and insights into his plan and ultimate objective into life. It’s like an extended “coming of age” ceremony.
8 – Pre-Puberty.
12 – Puberty
16 – Driving and Freedoms
18 – Adulthood and Goals
21 – Final Milestone Ceremony
Each of these trips is designed to teach him something about the way the world works, his capacity as a man, and what it means to live a life of service and dedication to others.
This first trip, happening at a primitive campground in the high desert of California, was raising him to the awareness of his body, the changes that will happen, and to start him thinking about planning his future choices.
He was (partly) responsible for packing appropriate things, and helped me set up and tear down camp. We also learned a bit about how to make a fire, hunt animal tracks. pay attention to our surroundings, and emergency medical and hazard situations.
In the heat of the Friday afternoon sun, we were blessed with what became our theme, somewhat unexpectedly.
The idea stuck: everything has consequences.
The Results of Our Choices
Underneath the hot afternoon sun, we spent time watching an ant colony work. Suddenly, two dozen beetles came and landed near the colony. Instantly, the ants swarmed and started attacking the beetles. The beetles, encumbered by the swarm of ants, tried to escape. Some were successful. Others were quickly dispatched and stuffed down the hole of the ant colony.
In the middle of our observation, Jackson turned to me and said, “Dad, are you for team beetle or team ant?”
“I dunno. I’m just interested in watching and seeing what happens. I want both to win.”
As we sat there in silence a few more minutes, I started our conversation.
In life, everything has consequences. That’s not a bad thing. Consequences don’t have to be bad. They are just the result of what we choose to do. What happens if we help all the ants kill the beetles?
All the beetles lose their lives.
Right. And what happens if we help the beetles escape?
The ants have nothing to eat.
Correct. You will make choices that affect other people. In fact, every choice you make has an effect on something. Be sure you make choices you can live with, morally, ethically, and practically.
As he sat there in silence for a few more minutes, he finally muttered. “Huh. Everything has consequences.”
Building a Life of Choices
The life you’re living today is a result of the choices you’ve made along the way.
Good, bad, or indifferent, you are exactly where you should be because of the choices you’ve made so far.
The great thing is, if you don’t like where you’re at, you can make different choices.
Chart a new path.
Create a new outcome.
Channel different energy.
Just because this is where you are, doesn’t mean this is where you have to end up.
The jarring blare of the alarm pries your eye-lids open and rips you into the land of the living.
What’s your first instinct?
The snooze button or the bounding first leap of a new baby gazelle?
Is your first thought, “Why me?” or “Why wait any longer?”
The way we set our mind first thing determines the much of the rest of the day.
Richard Whatley once said, “Lose an hour in the morning, and you will spend all day looking for it.”
Our mindset at the outset of the day determines our outcome. Whether we choose to attack the day or begrudgingly back into it determines how much we will get done.
And this has nothing to do with being a morning person or a night owl (but shout out to all my fellow morning people!).
Instead, it has everything to do with what we purpose in our hearts as valuable and worth investing in.
Our morning rituals have the chance to shape our souls, our character, our potential, and our enjoyment in life.
Habits on Purpose
Anyone who has worked with me knows we spend a lot of time talking about “habits on purpose.” Our morning rituals are no exception. Many of us waste large sections of our mornings instead of intentionally crafting them to serve us and help us reach our goals.
Two scenarios, which sounds more like you (be honest!):
“Lose an hour in the morning, and you will spend all day looking for it.” – Richard Whatley
The alarm goes off. After snoozing the alarm a time or two, you begrudgingly get out of bed. Saunter down to the kitchen and make a cup of coffee. After waiting for it to brew, you put on the television, drink the cup of coffee, and pray for “a few moments of quiet.” The (real) problem is not that these moments aren’t quiet. Instead, it’s that they aren’t productive or stimulating. After an hour of television and another cup of coffee (or two), you manage to scrounge up a quick (and mostly unhealthy) breakfast, rush out the door, only to wait in traffic on the way to work. You spend the rest of the morning wondering how you’re going to fit in everything you have to do.
After work, you might rush off to the gym, if you’re feeling up to it, stagger in the door, and eat a quick bite of dinner with your family. Some more television, and on the good days a few pages of light reading before a late-night Netflix series as you pass out into bed.
The weekends, only somewhat different. Instead of filling your days with work, it’s full of a week’s worth of overlooked errands and obligations. By the time Sunday ends, you dread the thought of going back to work, still tired, still behind, and still wondering where all your time went.
The alarm goes off, but you were already stirring. Gently awakening from a good nights sleep, you quietly make your way to the kitchen. After drinking twenty ounces of water to rehydrate your body, you then make a small cup of coffee and tip-toe into the den. Here, you engage in thirty minutes of intentionally designed habits that give you life and direction. Scripture reading and prayer, meditation, yoga, and a good personal development book are frequent habits. After that, you sneak off to the gym for a good thirty-minute sweat session. You return home just as the rest of the family is waking up. You’re fully awake, charged up, and ready to attack the day. You enjoy a good, nutritious breakfast with your family before heading off to work with purpose and conviction.
After work, you are still awake enough to get a few critical errands done, work on your side hustle, and enjoy another meal with your family. After dinner, you enjoy a myriad of activities together: movies, books, chess, or sports. Whatever it is, you’re excited by the purpose and direction you’ve given your life.
The weekends are similar. They are intentionally designed, purpose-driven, and leave you excited for another week to grow, learn, and serve new people.
I’m guessing you identify with one of these stories.
I identify with both.
For years, I would have firmly placed myself in option one. My life was chaotic, disorganized, and I was “average” (at best).
After intentionally taking steps to counter this drift, seeking out some great coaches, and getting a grip on my life and my purpose, I now find myself firmly in option two.
The difference along the way for me has been a lot of intentional habits and disciplines, specifically and most importantly, my morning rituals.
Now, they’re far from perfect. Right now, my morning habits are really broken up into to separate blocks. That’s the status of my work life right now. Eventually, it will happen in one chunk as I sense that will work the best for me.
So while I may not have my “ideal” calendar of morning rituals in place, I do have a target. I know what I’m aiming for. Otherwise, I’m like the boy learning archery who shot an arrow and then ran over to pain the bullseye around it. Instead, I want to know what the target is and then put all of my effort and talent into hitting it every time.
Below are the habits of my morning ritual and roughly how much time I spend on each one.
20oz of water within ten minutes of waking up
1 cup of coffee
Bible Reading and Prayer (10-15 Minutes)
Personal Development Book (15-20 Minutes)
Exercise (45 minutes)
Within the first 90 minutes of my day, I have exercised my body, brain, and spiritual muscles. I have found that this gives me focus, intensity, and purpose to my days. I’m still tweaking exactly how to flow from one activity to the next more smoothly but would love to hear from you.
What are your morning rituals?
What are your daily habits and routines?
How are you using your time to intentionally invest in bettering yourself at the start of the day?