Gerard is a successful senior Salesforce Engineer in the Greater NYC area. He uses mindfulness daily to increase his performance and wellbeing.
My daily routine centers around mindful habits. These are small, positive efforts performed consistently that compound over time to help us reach our full potential. Mindful habits come in many shapes and sizes. Some take less than five minutes, others take over an hour. Some are really easy, while others are exceptionally difficult. Some can even be enjoyable, whereas others are dreadful. What makes a habit mindful is the intention to practice it in the present moment—to dedicate time solely to that specific task without distraction.
I practice mindful habits with the hopes of gaining many benefits. But one rules them all: Becoming more self-aware. When we are truly self-aware, prioritizing our time becomes simple because we know and accept what makes us happy. And happiness, my friends, is essential to living a fulfilling life!
Wake Up! (5:15AM)
Personally, it all starts with a 5:15 A.M. wake-up time. I pop out of bed and immediately reach for a tall glass of water. This begin to rehydrate my body after it's been hibernating for 7-8 hours. This also kickstarts my system for my morning workout.
After washing up, I spend 2-3 minutes praying before breakfast. I focus on the great health, opportunity, and people I am surrounded with each day. I take the next few minutes to write down three things that I am grateful for. Harvard researcher, Shawn Achor,explains how this practice helps train our brains to be more optimistic. Essentially, the more we look for positivity in the world, the more positive we become. Who doesn’t want that!
Time to Move! (5:50AM)
The middle chunk of my morning routine is dedicated to training. Even after completing collegial athletics, I continue to treat myself like a performance athlete. We can gain a competitive advantage with proper sleep, nutrition, exercise, and mental preparation. This allows us to get ahead in life.
I train five times per week for about 60 minutes. I spend the first 15 minutes warming up, a time that I consciously focus on priming my body to perform. The following 45 minutes consists of a compound exercise and accessory work. My programs are designed to develop athleticism and provide movement patterns with respect to all physical planes.
Press Pause! (7:10AM)
After my workout, I dedicate some time to meditation. I find it liberating to press pause directly after a tough training session to get my mind right. I start by lying flat on the floor with my palms facing the ceiling and my feet resting on a wall at 45 degrees.
I follow two simple rules:
1. Feel the sensation of my breath as it comes in and out of my body; and
2. Whenever my attention wanders, I just forgive myself and gently come back to my breath.
Mediating has brought more aware of my internal self-talk. Now, when I catch myself speaking negatively, I can quickly correct it before it drags on. Also, I have discovered some of my best ideas at the end of meditation sessions!
Snack Time! (7:30AM)
A short shower stands between my hungry self (sometimes, pushing hangry…) and a post-workout snack. As high performers, it is critical for us to listen to our bodies. Planning our nutritional intake is very important, but we must be flexible. Depending on the intensity level of training, our bodies may ask us for a higher quantity or quality of food. It's our job to listen closely and be mindful of our intake.
Press Pause…Again (3:30PM)
Recently, I started taking 30 minutes in the afternoon to escape the day’s chaos. This starts with 5-10 minutes of meditating. I spend the next 15 minutes sitting and thinking after my mind is clear. I try my best to think about non-work-related projects (e.g., writing blog articles or reflecting on the book I am currently reading). The purpose of pausing is to recharge and enhance creativity. This is something that we can all improve upon during the rat race of a typical 9-5.
Nightly Routine (~9:00PM)
My day comes to a close around 9:00 P.M. By this time, I've prepped everything I'll need to be successful tomorrow. For example, my gym bag is packed, clothes are picked out, breakfast/vitamins are prepared, and lunchbox is in the fridge. I purposely do not sleep with my phone in my bedroom. Instead, I leave it on the kitchen counter and opt to use an old-fashioned alarm clock. I noticed that I sleep much better without it by my side (and wake up less often from after-hour group texts).
Finally, I say a prayer to collect my thoughts and give thanks for the day, and then hop into bed with a book. Reading is another mindful activity that has enhanced my level of self-awareness. Absorbing ideas from those who are more experienced helps to broaden our horizons and think differently. I can usually make it 15-30 minutes before it's time to turn off the lights and get some rest; about 7-8 hours does the trick for me. It'll be 5:15 A.M. again soon, but I'll be ready to take on the day thanks to these mindful habits!