I wake up many mornings to an email from Medium with a collection of articles that may interest me. This particular one had an article on productivity tips and tools – an area with which I am a little obsessed. In this one the suggested productivity hack was to get to work immediately as soon as you wake up; the theory being that your most productive time will be this period of the day, and to therefore not waste it on exercising or meetings but on just doing your deep work. When your deep focus starts to wane, that is a good time to go to the gym, or sit through a million meetings.
I was fascinated by my reaction. “Good idea mate, but I am not a morning person. I do slow mornings.” These things have proven true for me in the past. I prefer working at night, late at night, and mornings are usually for sleeping, journaling and yoga. But I called myself out immediately because there is one key thing I have learned in my life thus far is to not box myself. Be open to change.
There is a danger in labeling yourself as a “something”. It is fine to be proud and unashamed of how you are living your life but here’s the thing: we change. And what works today, may not work tomorrow. The thing that has saved me has been the willingness to let go of what I thought I was, and try something new.
I came to this country believing I was a Jazz singer. That is what I was passionate about, good at, and committed to. But after being a jazz singer for a number of years I found out something surprising: I wasn’t enjoying it. At all. Didn’t like it anymore. And that was a little rough to discover because I had given so much to it and had identified with that career choice so strongly.
So, who was I? Did this mean I was a failure?
My journey in music and in life in general has been so convoluted. I have worn many hats only to find they no longer fit. It always felt like starting over, but it truly never was. Everything I thought was a detour was actually simply a leg of a journey, and each period wrapped up with lessons learned and skills acquired.
The thing that rescued me was being open to go in a different direction. To release myself from that venture and be brave enough to start a different one.
I always read those “habits of successful people” lists – can’t help myself. They are often predictable and sometimes incredibly annoying or so vague they might as well be a horoscope. But I read one the other day that took my breath away:
Successful people practice self-forgiveness.
Wow. We always read about all the “failures” of successful people before “the thing” happened that launched them. But the only way to truly bounce back from ventures that don’t work out is by forgiving yourself, learning everything you can and going for it, all over again, a wiser person.
My goal is to always refine and improve upon everything in my life. My composing rituals, my rig, my templates, my organizational habits, my finances, my relationships, my mental health. But to improve means to change, to grow. And that requires being constantly just a little bit uncomfortable. Always aware of how you are failing. Acknowledging the shortcoming and changing things up.
So now I am trying out the suggestion of jumping straight into the work day. I get up, feed the cats, pour myself some coffee, do my morning pages (and maybe a short yoga flow if I am feeling particularly crumpled after the night’s sleep) and then I jump into work. Currently I am trying to streamline everything I just mentioned above so I can get into work even quicker. I am finding that for now, this is a great addition to my work flow. I can achieve something quicker early in the day, which makes me feel productive, motivated and empowered. Next year it may be different. Because I am always changing……