Most of us have also developed this habit, which derails our day before it even starts.
Every morning at 3 a.m., I get an email. It’s my daily trainer report, and it basically gives me an update on my campers — who’s checked in, who’s been missing for a few days, who has a birthday coming up. It’s incredibly helpful and I look forward to reading it … so much so that I’ve developed the habit of checking my email immediately upon waking up — before I’ve even climbed out of bed.
According to Stacy Morgenstern, co-founder of Health Coach Institute, this is one of the absolute worst things to do immediately after waking up:
“Because people use their cell phone as an alarm clock, they are prone to instinctually check email before they’ve even wiped the boogers from their eyes … by opening your email before you’ve gone to the bathroom and brushed your teeth, you are allowing someone else to set your priorities. That stack of to-dos in your inbox is more likely to drain your well-being, success and happiness than add to it.” Therefore, it might be helpful to keep your phone away from you when you sleep and use an actual alarm clock so that you are less tempted to check your e-mail right after you awake.
Yep, that’s me. So guilty it’s written right there on my forehead.
I definitely use my phone as an alarm. I also definitely check my email before I wipe the sleep from my eyes. I also definitely let that email determine the tone my day will start with.
If I’ve got lots of campers checking in and new ones signing up, I feel pretty great. I get up and get ready for camp in a good mood, confident in what I’m doing and eager to greet my campers before the sun comes up.
But for the first few weeks, that report was like a slap in the face. The numbers were all big fat zeroes, and they made me feel exactly worthless.
Rather — I let them make me feel worthless. Those numbers didn’t do anything — they’re just data, helpfully crunched and sent out by my company. But by internalizing them, I allowed something else to hijack my entire day before it had even begun.
Just because the numbers aren’t zeroes anymore isn’t a good reason to keep doing it, either. Every business will have ups and downs, including mine. If I continue to reach for my phone and open that email when my alarm rings at 4 a.m., I will continue to live and die by rising and falling of data points — and that’s not where I want to be. That’s not why I do what I do.
I do what I do because I love my campers and I love exercise, and I love helping people discover what they’re capable of. Seeing someone do a push jack for the first time, or run a mile for the first time, or proudly pick up 160 pounds of weights to show me how much weight they’ve lost — those are the things that bring me joy.
Sure, I also like getting a paycheck — but I could get a paycheck anywhere. My bottom line isn’t about money as much as it’s about people, and it’s important that the habits I form reflect that. Checking my camper report every day can become a healthy habit to help me keep tabs on my campers, but not when I do it compulsively upon waking up.
So today I’m going to get an alarm clock and set it like it’s 2001. My phone can charge in the other room with my laptop, and I can start my day with more intention and less compulsion. And probably a lot more peace.
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