In flying trapeze, the swing is the core skill off of which we build all tricks. If you want a higher and bigger trick, you’ve got to build a higher swing. Like golfers, trapeze artists are always working on our swings.
When I want to fix my swing, I always start with my takeoff. An effective takeoff is more than half the battle in getting a good swing. If you get a good takeoff, everything else flows more effectively.
This is true not just for mechanics, but for mindset. When you have a good takeoff, you feel more confident going into the swing and into the trick. And when it comes to keeping yourself safe, that confidence matters. A lot.
As in circus, so too in life.
The Morning Sets the Tone
Five years ago, I found myself frustrated with how my day got off track almost from the moment I woke up. I would hit snooze repeatedly, then get up feeling exhausted and already behind my day.
I had the best intentions to start my day with a workout but I often wouldn’t make it to the gym. I would be dressed for the gym. The bag was packed and ready by the door. But I would be sucked into the cycle of email and social media. Standing in my foyer, mere feet from the door, hours would pass before I realized the time.
Then the real productivity drains would start: the self-directed anger for getting caught up in email and social. The mental chess with my schedule to find time for a workout. Renegotiating priorities. With all the noise in my head, I couldn’t be present or focused.
I finally had enough. I resolved to stop hitting snooze and stop checking my phone in the morning before a workout. I would say yes to myself first. I did it for 7 days. Then two weeks. Then a month.
Tomorrow marks 5 years.
Five years of fitness first. Five years of no snooze. Five years of saying yes to myself first.
Since that first experiment, I’ve expanded my morning routine to include other daily practices, including meditation, journaling, and writing.
I no longer hit the snooze button, and I no longer default to checking email and social media first thing in the morning.
That doesn’t mean my days are “perfect.”
A Constant Process of Refinement
Just like in flying trapeze, when I hit a stumbling block in my day, the first place I look is at my “takeoff” — how I start. And as in flying trapeze, refinement requires the willingness to experiment. Lately in my trapeze practices, I’ve been working on improving my takeoff. In the process of fixing it, I’ve experimented with different ways to stand on the platform to get a more effective jump off the board.
It requires a lot of trial and error. Sometimes I do something different but get the same result. Sometimes I get a different result that doesn’t last long. Over time, little tweaks and incremental results built on each other to produce a noticeable change.
The same is true for my morning rituals. My mornings are a constant work-in-progress. I continually refine my practices and perform experiments to determine what tweaks I can make to set myself up for more productive and constructive days.
Even after 5 years, I would never dare say that my mornings are locked up. There is always room to tweak and improve. And certain seasons require changes.
Look at Your Mornings
The morning sets the tone for your actions and your mindset.
If you’re feeling stuck in any part of your day, look at your mornings first.