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con·trar·i·an - noun
1. opposing or rejecting popular opinion;
going against current practice.

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How to change yourself and gain discipline little by little.

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This article isn’t really about cold showers, it’s about creating an environment for yourself where it’s easy to succeed. Where you’re free to succeed apart from “the man” telling you what to do. I’ll tell you in a bit how cold showers have helped me become more self-disciplined and consequently helped me as I seek to become happily self-employed.

The question to ask yourself would be: “if you could do one simple repetitive action that helped you stay on track, would you do it?” If the answer to that question is yes, then read on.

This article is for those of us who would rather work for ourselves than working for someone else. It’s about cultivating freedom of lifestyle. It’s about taking back ownership of our time. The biggest barrier that I’ve found to achieving that freedom is myself. More specifically, self-discipline. 

"The one quality which sets one man apart from another - the key which lifts one to every aspiration while others are caught up in the mire of mediocrity - is not talent, formal education, nor intellectual brightness - it is self-discipline. With self-discipline all things are possible. Without it, even the simplest goal can seem like the impossible dream. " -Theodore Roosevelt

Caveat: Cold showers may not be your thing; I’ve outlined my personal experience below. The reason cold showers have been so beneficial to me is because they have become my keystone habit, not because a cold shower is the ultimate discipline hack. Your keystone habit could be anything from making your bed every morning to waking up at the same time every day.

What is a Keystone Habit?

Also called a cornerstone habit, a keystone habit is a powerful and sustainable way to hack your strength of mind. Think the tortoise vs. the hare. A keystone habit allows you to win a small victory with the intent of influencing every area of discipline. We’ll compare the tortoise and the hare after we talk about the barrier of self-discipline.

The draw of freedom vs. the barrier of self-discipline.

In the past 15-20 years there seems to have been a pretty significant influx of people who have made the choice of self-employment. Not only has the internet made this possible, but there seems to be a mindset shift to match the new horizon of possibilities that the world of the internet brings.

Here’s the problem though, most of us would love to control our own time, and consequently our lives, by starting a business or working as a freelancer, but for many, self-discipline can seem like a seemingly insurmountable obstacle.

Possibly there are some of you who are already self-employed, but find life as a freelancer frustrating at best. What’s worse is that the reality of making your work support your dreams seems so close, yet somehow unattainable. You remind yourself to work harder, but the motivation comes and goes.

It can be frustrating to wake up every morning in the absence of a higher-up telling you when to work. The frustration is worse because it’s self-directed. I’m sure you know that guilty feeling after waking up far too late. You tell yourself that you can do it later that evening which turns into later that night.

It can be distracting when there’s no one telling you what to do and how to do it.

It can be difficult trying to maintain a steady schedule when you’re your own boss.

Self-employment is no cake-walk, it is the road less traveled. But the benefits far outweigh the costs.

So, how do you overcome yourself and your failures to create the life you’ve always wanted?

How a Keystone habit plays into healthy habit formation.

There are two basic strains of thought when it comes to habit formation.

The Hare

The older thought process is as follows: to change a lifestyle you need to change the entire foundation. Primarily by creating a strict regimen that must be followed at any cost.

For some, this method works, for those of you like me, it simply doesn’t.

If you’re like me and have tried to diet using this train of thought. It works… as long as you stick to it. It also fails miserably if you don’t and leaves you hating yourself and hating that you even tried.

The problem is longevity.

We’ve all tried it, one mess-up day, one failure brings that flood of guilt and self-hate. You know what I’m talking about.

It’s that feeling in the pit of your stomach that tells you that you should have known better, you should have tried harder. As you continue to offend your self-made promise, you push the guilt into the recesses of your mind hoping they’ll go away.

In the end you begin to give up on your goals, even if just a little. Little by little, your dreams disappear.

The Tortoise

Conversely, through the use of a keystone habit, you begin to cultivate confidence in your own ability to discipline yourself by sticking to one simple habit.

As each day passes, your self-confidence builds. Forget guilt, forget kicking yourself every time you fail.

Because it’s such a small habit, you can use the long term vision of forming the habit as encouragement rather than relying on the negativity of prospective failure to put a fire under yourself. It’s like a life hack that affects every area of personal responsibility.

Let’s call it a halo effect. The idea is as follows, because I’m doing so well in this area, why couldn’t I do the same in this other bigger area. If I’m able to make my bed every day, why can’t that apply to writing 500 words every day, or keeping the same hours of work every day?

Cold Showers, my habit of choice.

For me, the resulting influence on my mindset has been pretty astounding. As the title suggests, my keystone habit of choice has been a wonderfully shocking cold shower every single morning.

Seriously, it’s been over 3 weeks and I’ve taken a cold shower every day but three. Even on my overnight hiking trip. How does a bath in a ridiculously cold mountain stream sound? Let me tell you, it was pretty invigorating.

The Benefits

  • I start the day with a pattern of overcoming difficulty.
  • I subject myself to an unavoidable reminder to live self-disciplined (this one is a bigger deal than it sounds).
  • It reminds me that I can do anything.
  • I feel better about my day.
  • I feel better about myself.
  • I feel like a superman every day without fail.
  • My room is cleaner.
  • My bed is always made.
  • I can focus on my work much easier.

Let’s forget about the supposed health benefits of a cold shower; I have found the psychological benefits to far outweigh the physical benefits. It’s not about the invigorating feeling you feel after the cold shower, even though that’s pretty stellar, it’s about tricking yourself into remembering your full potential. It’s about remembering that you can do anything you set your mind on.


Let’s think of it this way, when you start off your day with a small victory rather than a small failure, you set yourself up for a bigger victories throughout the day.

Illustrator Robbie Copu sits down with Petre and talks about living and working in an artistic cowork space. 

Brought to you from Contrarian Mountain.

The Best Investment a Young Entrepreneur Can Make

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As a young person, how do you form a good investment strategy? Index funds, precious metals, bonds, day trading?

What should I do with my money? I just want to put it somewhere competitive where I feel like it’s working for me. Nothing greedy, just something I can feel good about.

Let’s look at a different strategy. All those aforementioned investment options have their places, and it’s outside the scope of this post to compare them, but let’s shift gears and look at an investing option you probably haven’t considered: PEOPLE.

Investing in people. What does that mean? I’m going to lay out a system in investing in people, how to do it, and why it’s going to change your life.

First of all, let’s talk about returns. What’s something that doesn’t demand a lot from your wallet, not a whole lot of your time, but will continue to kick off returns for years, maybe even your entire life? People. Or to be more precise, relationships.

Investing in people, in this tumultous time in the markets, is the safest investment you can make. It doesn’t depend on the strength of the US dollar, or how the latest job report looks. You can be in the midst of a recession and this investment will keep returning dividends that far outweigh any buy-in you’ve made.

THE SYSTEM

Ok! So enough of this flowery metaphor. Relationships are good. We all know that. What’s new here?

What if we didn’t treat our relationships like an after-hour, extra curricular activity but instead viewed them as a portfolio of potential investments? Things that are organized tend to have higher priority. If it’s in the calendar, it’s much more likely to happen than if it’s spontaneous and unplanned.

Let’s remove the emotional aspect for now and talk about this as if it was a cold, hard, calculated transaction to be made. Let’s say I have $100 to invest in ‘people.’ How does that look? First of all, most of this investment won’t come from money. It will come from your time.

Ok, so now let’s say you have $100 AND 10 hours of time per month to invest. This will get us somewhere!

Next we need to pick our stocks. We’ll start out with five investments. And just like the stock market we want to diversify our portfolio. So make a list of friends, aquaintances, bosses and teachers, relatives and old coworkers. Cull this list down to five people. Make it diverse. Ensure there are people younger and older than you, people you share a lot in common with, and a person or two that have entirely different interests. The one qualifying characteristic you’re looking for is PASSION. This person needs to be extremely—infectiously—passionate about something.

Now you have your list of five ‘stocks,’ it’s time to budget out your investing plan. Take $90 and designate it for three people this month. These people should rotate every month. Take these people out to lunch throughout the month. That’s three meals of $30, or $15 each. Take them somewhere worth their time, somewhere you can have a real conversation and you aren’t bombarded by Lynyrd Skynyrd or 15 big screen TVs.

Maybe some months you’ll do two lunches and three coffees. That works too. Just try to use 90% of this budget investing in being hospitable.

So what do you do at these lunches or coffee meetings? It’s time to build your listening skills. Send these people a handwritten note if possible saying something like, “Hey, I’ve been thinking of you lately. If you’re available anytime this month I’d love to catch up. Maybe we can catch lunch sometime. My treat.” A word of caution here. Some of these people might be wary that this is some sort of sales pitch. It’s important to set the tone that no manipulation or hard pitches will take place. You’re the giver at these meetings, the listener, the encourager.

Sit down with this person, make some small talk and then get to the meat of the conversation. “What are your working on these days that’s exciting?” This will inevitably lead to this person talking about something they’re passionate about. Listen. Try to soak in the information. This is what cultivating interest in someone feels like.

By the end of your hour and half lunch you should have learned a ton about this person and the field they specialize in. Make sure to toss in what you’re working on as well. Seeing someone passionate about something often opens people to reveal their own personal projects.

People love to feel valued, and LOVE to talk about their passions and dreams, so this meeting will stick in this person’s mind—that’s one succesful investment down!

As soon as this first lunch has concluded, set a reminder on your calendar to leave this person a follow up message saying how much you enjoyed your lunch and what they had to share. “Let’s do it again sometime!”

As you continue to cultivate your listening and meeting skills, you’ll be amazed by how much information you’re able to retain from these lunches or coffee get togethers.

With the remaining $10 you’re going to browse some used book stores and pick up a book that two of the people in your list would be interested in. $10 should be more than enough. Write a personal note on the first page and drop it off at the mailbox. “I thought you’d be interested in this book (magazine, trinket) I came across. I’d love to hear what you’re working on!”

The biggest dividend that results from this investment is improving yourself. Building an attitude of thoughtfulness and valuing others, as well as developing your listening skill will make you a better person. Quality people attract other quality people. People want to be around others that know where they want to go.

Soon you’ll find your ‘Investment Circle’ expanding and deepening. This doesn’t mean you should spend less time with each person. If you feel like you won’t have the time or you’re feeling rushed, it’s better not to have the meeting at all. Try to introduce people to each other. Build bridges around you.

These relationships you’re building may not seem substantially valuable, but that’s taking a short term viewpoint. Who knows what kind of ventures you’ll be undertaking in the next two years, five years, and who knows what position your friends—because that’s what they’ll become—will be in to help or advise. People can help each other grow, and investing your time into listening and caring about a person’s passion just might encourage them to take that next step forward.

Repost: “Workstation Popcorn” by Joel Runyon of Impossiblehq.com

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We here at The Contrarians blog don’t have all the answers, that’s why, from time to time, we like to highlight great pieces written by other bloggers.

THE ARTICLE:

Workstation Popcorn by Joel Runyon of Impossiblehq.com

THE IDEA:

By taking into account Pareto’s PrincipleParkinson’s Law and the more notable Pomodoro Technique, Joel Runyon addresses these ideas of productivity, brings them into 21st century urban life and gives us a peek into his most successful habits. The basic idea is to lay out 3 chunks of actionable items and break them into 3 different physical locations. For Joel, it’s 3 different café’s or workspaces.

What we liked about it was that it wasn’t a collection of ethereal ideas, he gives some solid advice and presents a clear method of making your time as productive as possible.

The ideas ring true and are definitely worth a try if you find yourself “working,” but not getting anything done.

HAVE A READ >

Photo Credit: Taylor Lois

How to take a risk on an idea and not regret it.

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If you’re in business, or would like to be, you’ll quickly learn that it takes risk to create dollar signs. Risk is the currency of currency. In this article, I’ll teach you how to take risks wisely. You’ll get ideas on how to be honest with yourself, how to research your idea, plan your idea then “risk small” and maybe even “risk big.”

For this article, I will be using the example of an app idea. These same principles obviously apply to many other industries.

1. ALWAYS BE HONEST.

Ok, so you’ve got an idea. How do you translate that into a stream of revenue? The answer to that question involves a lot of honesty (with yourself), sweat and some more honesty. I can’t stress that enough, BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF. When you get swept up with the idea of an idea, it’s easy to overlook very obvious weaknesses. MAKE SURE IT’S VIABLE.

MOST IDEAS HAVE A LIFE-CYCLE THAT LOOKS SOMETHING LIKE THIS:

1. You’re overly excited about what now is only a vague representation of what could be a great world-changing idea.
2. You can’t sleep as you figure the ins and outs of this possible venture.
3. You buy a domain.
4. You invest lots of energy and thought into the idea.
5. You pull in a few friends or co-workers, they get excited as well.
6. You do some initial work on the idea. After a few weeks you realize how much work it will take.
7. Your enthusiasm begins to wane.
8. You begin to notice the idea’s weaknesses. The things that you were previously blind to.
9. You quickly realize that your idea is stupid.
10. Dang it.

Truth be told, that’s actually a pretty good outcome, it’s much better than putting tons of energy and money into an idea only to come out empty. My point: honesty is the primary thing that could very well save your marriage (and your business idea).

2. RESEARCH AND PLAN.

Next to self-honesty, it’s important to make time for RESEARCH and PLANNING. If your idea does take off, these two practices will save you both time and money. If your idea isn’t successful, you’ll also save time and money by avoiding a potential money-pit. It’s a win-win. It may seem like a waste of time at first, but information and vision are the life-blood to any project. Don’t move forward without a clear idea (preferably on paper) of your desired outcome.

Research how others have accomplished the same thing. If, for instance, you are wanting to design an app, take a look at the App Store, see what sells, what doesn’t. It’s very likely that someone has already done something similar. If you can’t find a similar app, read up on app successes and failures. Useful information is more than likely there, you just need to take the time to find it. Patterns are replicable, once you find a good pattern, you can apply it on a small scale and then on a large scale.

Once you’ve found a good pattern through research, it’s time to plan. You’ll want to first plan for an initial small risk with the possibility of massive success. Create a plan that’s scaleable, but doesn’t involve a lot of initial risk. This is where your research and idea-honing come together. Find prospective employees on Odesk.com or Freelancer.com, begin a conversation with a few key friends or colleagues, people you’d like to add to the project if it were to go big. Let them know that you’d like to partner with them if the idea does take off. But… don’t hire them… yet. Lay a foundation that doesn’t cost you much, but can scale. This approach will come with future roadblocks, but it’s much better than losing you and your wife’s life savings on a stupid idea. Again, this step could save your marriage.

3. TAKE A SMALL RISK.

Okay, so you’ve spent a few late nights being honest with yourself, researching and planning. If your idea is still viable, it’s time to get serious. Create a block of time, maybe a weekend (or two), where you can put into action those practical steps you’ve already planned for.

Go ahead, take action. Create detailed breakdowns for your idea, get some mockups made. Create a landing page. Move forward with your idea. Remember to always stay true to the pattern that you’ve discovered through research and planning. Don’t stray too far from your pattern, if you do, you are stepping into greater risk. There’s a time for big risk, but it’s not yet. This is when your idea just begins to come to life. Let it grow, don’t force it.

Once you have a detailed idea of what needs to be accomplished and you’ve done everything that you can do. It’s time to get some prices. Calculate that final risk. Contact that app developer or web developer. See what that last push will take. This is the final stage of your idea from initial thought to finalization. If your idea is still living, it’s probably good enough to be worth the risk.

Go ahead, create it.

Integers

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I recently watched Ernst Lubitsch’s “The Shop Around The Corner,” an adaptation of Hungarian playwright Miklós László’s 1937 play, “Parfumerie,” in which a couple hilariously fall in love actually, after falling in love literarily. (And by “literarily,” I mean, literarily.) The plot has its twists and modified turns in order to keep things interesting for the audience; it feels almost as if you’re watching Miklós László’s play as the soundtrack consists nearly of a single song, “Ochi Chyornye,” (always played on-set by either a band or a music-box) and the locations are set in typical stage-like limitation to the Shop, a restaurant, and Klara’s room.

MORE THAN JUST SAYING, “ON THE CONTRARY”

Moving past the brilliant dialog that always seems to accompany good stage-productions with limited “special effects,” Lubitsch’s work is well tooled by Jimmy Stewart, who plays the part of the shopkeeper, Alfred Kralik. Though Kralik’s character is seen as unromantic and difficult by Klara and Kralic’s employer, Mr Matuschek, it’s not limited, per se, to just being a nay-sayer, but fortified rather.

Kralic’s depth as a man who goes in search of encyclopedias as opposed to cafés and dance halls, and chooses the adventure of writing to an unknown person as opposed to simply being a party-pooper says a lot about what it means to be an Integer; someone who lives life fully and wholly dedicated to betterment. In speaking to his friend and coworker, Pirovitch, Kralic states:

You come to a time in your life
when you get tired of going to cafés [and] dance halls every night, and you want to improve yourself.

MORE THAN JUST RUNNING AWAY

Kralic’s friend, Pirovitch is the opposite of an Integer. In a rather humorous display of his character, Mr Matuschek is showing off a cigarette-box that he thinks to be phenomenal, of which everyone hurriedly agrees (accept Kralic), and asks for their “honest opinion,” stating, “Don’t let me influence you.” Whenever Mr Matuschek speaks this last statement, Pirovitch is seen to quickly duck into a corner or rush up stairs to avoid this apparently fearful task of giving his “honest opinion.”

Now it’s not necessarily the withholding of his opinion that seems to indicate a lack of the Integer spirit in Pirovitch, but of avoiding confrontation altogether. Beside’s there being more depth in an Integer’s life than simply a No attitude, there’s a backbone that is actually most associated with Integers throughout history.

MORE THAN JUST STUBBORNNESS

And were I to give a short word on this relatively familiar characteristic called, here rather crudely, “backbone,” it would only be that stubbornness is not backbone. Rather, it seems to be a grit that not only makes up the word “integrity” but also the foundation to what people find so hopeful in that strong word. Kralic was more than stubborn, he was an Integer; whole and complete through strong opinion and a hunger for betterment. Pirovitch was less than apathetic, he was wholly fearful of loosing what little he had at the expense of his soul. This is apathy with a disease.

GRIT

An Integer seems to be someone who holds what he believes at a high-price—maybe like a pearl or treasure of great price. So, for an Integer to hold too tightly on what little he has at the expense of something great he can be seems odd.

For Kralic it seemed odd. And for those who identify with integrity as Integers, it also seems odd.

LIVING AND WORKING OVERSEAS

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What’s to stop a young college graduate from packing up and moving abroad as soon as they have that fancy, very expensive diploma in their hand? Well, perhaps tuition debt, car payments, a little bit of credit card concerns. The United States is successfully creating a generation of young people that become so financially entrapped that by the time they’re twenty-two the only choice they have is diving head first into a never ending cycle of work and ladder-climbing to pay off the overconsumption caused by somewhat unfulfilling lives. Whew, what a rant. 

At the same time we have a sub-current of this generation realizing that life isn’t enriched by objects, but by experience and relationship. That’s all very cliche, and has been yelled from the soapboxes of countless dirty hippies and independently wealthy vagabonds for hundreds of years. So how can we take this resurgent appreciation for experience and relationship and apply it to our own lives?

THE ABROAD EQUATION

The first claim I’d like to make is that living abroad isn’t outside of anyone’s reach. True, endless vacationing is available to only the truly wealthy, but LIVING abroad, that’s open to almost anyone. Even if you feel like you’re being anchored down by a thousand ton debt anvil, there are options for you. Those will be covered later.

WHY LIVE ABROAD?

I don’t think anyone’s a stranger to the charms and benefits of spending time overseas. I’ve been able to spend a few years in a small Argentine city on the edge of the Andes. The experiences, joys, memories and relationships (including my wife), that this time provided has made me not only a more well rounded person, but I like to think also more understanding and patient.

THE STEPS

Instead of continuing with abstract arguments on the joys and wonders of living abroad, let’s get down to some practical steps. These are some tips and ideas I’ve formed while trying to prolong my vagabonding years.

THE PLAN

This is the research phase. You need to form a short list of locations you’re interested in. Visit some forums and try to get some accurate figures for cost of living. Go to Quora, it’s a great site to pose a cost of living break down question if there isn’t already one posted.

Unless you have a fairly large recurring income you’ll probably look at Latin America, Asia, Eastern Europe or one of the more off-the-beaten path countries of Western Europe. Portugal, I’m looking at you.

THE SAVING

Once you have the cost of living data, it’s time to start saving. Make yourself a 250 day goal. Mark it on the calendar with the amount you want to have saved by that day. By using a few cost saving tactics in your everday living, and selling any unneeded items on craigslist or ebay, you’ll be surprised by how quickly you’re able to surpass your monthly goals. Once the saving mindset has been sparked, you’ll enjoy finding new ways to add to this travel pot. You’ll also find new and exciting ways to cook lentils (Nows a good time to get used to eating on the cheap, but in a health conscious way).

FORMING CONTACTS

Once you have a location set, start reaching out and forming some contacts. This will save you some work when you get there. It takes a lot of time and effort to meet people in a foreign culture and language, so putting in a bit of time now will payoff in a huge way later on. Look for a cowork space you can join to meet other interesting entrepreneurs. Look for cooking classes, Tango classes, art classes. These are all great ways to meet new people. You may be nervous joining classes in a second language, but your classmates will be excited to have a foreigner in the group, and having an activity on hand is a natural ice breaker.

Try to contact some English speaking expats. They are full of good tips and local knowledge. They’ll be able to share the locals-only type places, more-so than even the true locals at times.

This is also a good time to look into side income. Put out some job posts on local boards. Offer to teach English, program a site, take photos. Anything to get you out into the country you’re moving to.

THE LANGUAGE

This will always be the most difficult part of moving overseas. Download Duolingo. Start learning vocabulary and grammar. Once you’re there, and surrounded by native speakers, that’s when you’ll really start to pick it up. Prepare some small notebooks and when you’re arround native speakers and you hear a word you don’t know, ask what it is and right it down right there. This will increase your learning speed GREATLY. Don’t worry. You’ll make some mistakes but if you don’t take yourself too seriously, and others see that you’re putting the effort in, they’ll be more than happy to help you.

THE MOVE

The time has come. You’ve done the homework. Found a great place to set up your abode. You’ve made some contacts so you can hit the ground running. You have a budget set with a contingency in case there’s any unexpected costs. Now it’s time to go! Remember, it’s about immersing yourself, appreciating the REAL culture. Try to avoid hanging out only in the tourist spots. Be spontaneous. Be generous.

You will get lonely and homesick. Schedule skype times with your friends back home and family regularly. They’re part of your life too, and investing in those relationships are equally important.

Don’t overdo it. You will get burned out. Take some alone time and read a classic book. Have a coffee by yourself in the most touristy cafe in the city. Take it slow. It’s not a race to check things off a list, it’s about feeling the pulse of a different culture, the heartbeat of a new place.

Take photos of the small stuff. Your apartment kitchen, the local pub where you watch football games, a bicycle you picked up secondhand, the friendly barista you practiced jokes with. These are the memories you’ll want to share in ten years. These are the photos you can’t search for on Google photos.

THE RETURN

After a while, it will be time to head back home. But after you’ve experienced this way of life, hopefully your concept of what it means to have a career will change. You’ll probably get home, and after a few months start saving for your next trip abroad. And maybe this time you’ll be sharing it with someone else.

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—T. Jara Morgan

The Value of a Morning Alcove

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What does it take to get a good start on the day? Meditation, a good breakfast, some goal setting and a bit of anti-email checking? If there’s one thing certain about routines, it’s that there isn’t a certain routine that fits everyone’s personality or work schedule.

So what to do? We live in a time of a million distractions a minute. One barely wakes more than a few minutes before they’re whisked across the world into people’s vacation photos and crashing news headlines. Is this healthy? Is this a good way to start the day?

Most people would agree it’s not. But the alternative is too daunting: a seemingly endless checklist of items that feels like you’re about to take off in a multi-engine aircraft. Exercise. Check. Goal setting. Check. Fruit smoothie. Spend some time sponsoring an orphanage. The truth is, most of us aren’t ready to take over the world when we first wake up.

So instead of all that, let’s create a path of least resistance. When will power is low, we need to create an environment where it’s DIFFICULT for us NOT to do what’s best for us and the upcoming day.

Let’s look at the common barriers to a quiet, productive morning. The start of our day should be like the harmonious swelling of an orchestra before the start of a symphony. Energy will be building; thoughts and ideas aligning.

ELECTRONIC HITCHING POST

Let’s imagine our internet connected gadgets like they’re little masked bandits. They sit there on our nightstands, plotting through the twilight hours, ready to whisk our still sleep-grogged minds as soon as we open our eyes. Where will they take us? We have no say in that. We’re being abducted.

Let’s take control of this situation. Don’t plug these minuscule marauders in next to your bed! Put them across the room. Put them in another room. Flip them face down. Put them on mute. Put your journal or diary on top of them. They should be the last thing you get to as you start your day.

THE MORNING ALCOVE

Now that we’ve temporarily disabled our swarm of distracting info drones, let’s talk about creating a Space. A capital ’S’ space. This space will be for you. Specially designed for you to sink into, holding a steaming cup of coffee. It needs to be easy, it needs to be close, and it needs to be comfortable.

Find yourself a nice slouchy chair. Prepare a playlist full of swelling, lyric free music (try not to use your computer for this, be wary of the kidnapping prowess of anything Connected). Have a pen and notebook nearby. Notice I’m not dictating certain things that must be accomplished during this time. Think of this as a coffee date with yourself. If that seems too cloy and cutesy, think of this as Earnest Hemingway sitting by the fire and sipping a Parisian Espresso, reading over his notes. If that seems too nostalgic and exotic, then I’m sorry, you’ll have to form your own picture.

Now make a list of everything you feel like you should accomplish in the morning. Cross out everything but the most important of those items. That’s what you’ll start out with. Maybe it will be goal setting. Maybe reading. Maybe free-thinking and jotting down ideas.  Start simple, something you enjoy and will look forward to every morning.

Do it! Avoid thinking of this as a routine. This is the golden hour. This is chapter one of your day. Write down a few things you’re thankful for. Anything. It will make a difference in your outlook, I promise.

You’ve created your comfortable morning space, you’ve banished your electronics to a later hour, you’re spending some productive time with yourself. The next step is to make this a habit. A habit starts with commitment. Commitment starts with you realizing the benefits of a certain decision. If you were to commit to spending half an hour in the morning in this Space, thinking and planning, how would it benefit you right now? How would it benefit you in a year? Write these answers down. That’s your currency. Every time you feel you’re too tired, that you’d rather just drift around online in a mindless stupor, that list is what you look at. Pick yourself up, put on a fuzzy robe, splash your face with some cold water and let your mind prepare itself for the day.

Go ahead. Get your coffee ready, your chair set, a nice glowing lamp assembled and an old leather bound notebook set up. This is the start to a better day!

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—T. Jara Morgan