August 11, 2015

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We have often heard, “It’s not how you start, but how you finish.” When it comes to my day, it is how I start and how I finish. Before I knew the term, “bookending,” I was actually doing it. And perhaps we all do it. We start and end our day essentially the same way, day in and day out. Over time, our routines change as we transcend the seasons of our lives: college student, young-adult, parent, empty-nester, etc. Still, most of us fail to recognize the real power of our simple, yet significant, daily disciplines.

Bookending is the idea that you start your day with a morning ritual before moving into the working/productive part of your day, and eventually end your day with an evening ritual (a.k.a., your family/leisure/bedtime routine). There are countless benefits of segmenting your day this way, one of which is assuring that you achieve what my insightful client refers to as your daily “non-negotiables.” By ritualizing your morning workout, planning time, meditation, breakfast, news update, or daily meal planning, you guarantee that those things get done before the unpredictability of the day begins.

Darren Hardy, editor-in-chief of Success Magazine and author of The Compound Effect posits that a person’s morning and evening routines are the “bookends” of a successful life. There are significant ripple effects of consistently applying small smart choices over time. While these small changes may initially require focused discipline and energy, they soon after require little thought – they are simply what you do. Instead of requiring willpower to decide whether or not you’ll work out that day, you work out because that’s part of your morning routine. Routines take the decision-making out and thus, greatly increase the likelihood of success.

We have the opportunity to create morning and evening routines that add balance, energy, meaning, and control to our day. We find comfort in knowing precisely how our day will start and how it will end. When we honor morning and evening routines that nourish and support our mental, physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual growth and health, we are better equipped to manage life’s daily curveballs. An evening routine can begin on your way home with a simple thought, “It is time to leave my workday behind, and look forward to the evening ahead.” This can be effective even if your routine includes another hour or so of work later that evening.

Questions to ask yourself as you create your daily bookends:

What’s realistic and important to me?
How do my best days start and end?
What time do I need to get up in the morning to have a peaceful and productive start to my day?
What time will I unplug each evening?
What evening routine facilitates my most restful sleep?

Live well/Be well

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