I love to watch world class athletes. Maybe you do too. Over the years, I have noticed that they all share something in common besides their success on the biggest “fields.” What is it, you ask? They all share a commitment to specific rituals that they perform before each and every competition. As a matter of fact, they perform these rituals even before they practice. They all affirm that these rituals are essential to their success. That really got me thinking.
The rituals differ from athlete to athlete. For the most part, they have specific times they awaken each day. All have specific foods with which they nourish their bodies. Each of them speaks to their routine of exercise, warming up, affirmations, prayers, etc. They believe that these routines keep their bodies and minds strong and help them perform their best no matter the circumstances. They don’t haphazardly show up to compete. They think through their choices and make accommodations for their success. You must admit that when you look at the successes of the likes of Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Tom Brady, Simon Biles and Michael Phelps, to name just a few, it makes sense to study and perhaps emulate their keys to success.
But what has this got to do with you and your life? After all, many of us are not aiming to be world class athletes. That may be true, but are there areas of your life where you desire success? Do you have goals and dreams just beyond your reach? What lessons can you learn and apply from a celebrated athlete?
One of the most important lessons I have gleaned from watching and reading about successful individuals is the power of starting your day right. Over the years, my life has borne witness to the importance of having rituals to ensure that I set the tone for each day. Like gravity which will always pull us downwards, it is pretty easy to just life take over and to settle into habits and ruts that rob us of the best of ourselves. The alarm goes off and we groggily hit the snooze button. We soon oversleep and wake up in a panic, stressed out about how to fit in all our tasks and get to work on time. We pick up some sugary breakfast and down it with a tub of caffeine. Adrenaline pumping, our blood pressure skyrockets even before we make it out the door. Is there a better way?
Imagine, intentionally setting your opportunity clock (my preferred term) to a time that allows you plenty of time to start your day right. The clock goes off, you open your eyes and immediately focus on being grateful for at least a couple of minutes. You take time to acknowledge your breath, your senses, your limbs. You express gratitude for your loved ones and instead of cursing at your job or boss, you reflect on the privilege of being able to work and for having work (no matter how much you may dislike it).
What if you went further and before you get up, you give thanks for what you have and you set your intentions for the day. How different would your overall health and well-being be if you intentionally chose to schedule time to exercise and eat for health? How would your attitude and temperament be impacted if you started off your day at peace with yourself and the world?
People often focus on major changes to see improvement in their lives, but as these athletes have proven time and time again, it is the little seemingly inconsequential changes we institute that ultimately determine the quality of our lives. How do you start your day? Are you intentional about incorporating practices that are more likely to bring about your desired outcomes? Today is a good day to start.
Aya Fubara Eneli is a best-selling author, Certified Life Coach, Inspirational Speaker and Attorney. Her life’s purpose is to empower and equip people to live lives of purpose. She and her husband live in Central Texas with their five miraculous children. For more information, visit www.ayaeneli.com, follow her on twitter or Facebook @ayaeneli or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.