In 2021, the “That Girl” trend took the internet by storm.
“That Girl” is someone who gets up early, meditates, drinks a smoothie, journals, works out, eats healthy food, and takes her vitamins all before 8 a.m.
The craze has died down now, but there’s still a lot of advice out there telling you to cram as many ‘good’ habits as you can into your mornings.
I know I’ve gotten sucked into Pinterest lists about the perfect morning routine and thought to myself ‘If only I follow that list, my life will be so much better’.
In fact, there’s been many a time I’ve written an ambitious list of things at midnight of things I want to do the next morning, imagining that I’ll be a completely different version of myself tomorrow.
But then I wake up in the morning and realize I’m the same person, I’ve already slept through my alarm, and I don’t even have time for ‘the list’.
Now there’s nothing bad about wanting to have the “That Girl” habits. After all, these activities on their own are good for you.
However, it’s unrealistic to expect yourself to sustain that kind of routine day in and day out.
The more we let our lives be ruled by endless checklists, the less mindful we can be at actually doing those tasks.
Of course, I’m all for spending time on the things that matter, but life doesn’t have to be filled to the brim to be fulfilling.
So what’s the alternative? What does a more realistic routine look like?
The routine reframe
My mindset around routine and habits has changed a lot as I’ve gotten older, and I’m no longer trying to do everything all at once.
These days, I feel more comfortable taking things at my own pace and doing things the way I want to do them; essentially, not holding myself to unrealistic expectations.
My mornings are simple and repetitive.
I wake up and read ten pages of whatever book I’m reading.
That’s followed by showering, eating breakfast, and taking the dog out — the order of which depends on my needs in the moment.
Sometimes I’m starving when I wake up so I need to eat. Other times I have somewhere to be so taking a shower first makes the most sense. Sometimes the dog is whining so I take him out immediately.
After those things, I write for 30 minutes (read more about why I started doing this here).
And that’s my pretty simple morning routine. I can get lost in a book, take in some fresh air with the dog, nourish my body with breakfast, and feel refreshed after a shower.
I don’t have to cram all of these ‘good’ habits in to make my mornings feel meaningful.
How to embrace a simple routine
Many of us figure that if we can get a bunch of things done as part of our morning routines, we’ll feel better about ourselves. If we get the ‘good’ habits done as early as possible, the rest of the day will be smooth sailing.
And while that’s true in some ways, if you keep telling yourself you’re going to do those things but don’t have the time or energy to do them, you’re not going to feel good about yourself.
It’s better to be realistic and slowly add things in when you have the capacity.
At the end of the day, what’s essential is making time for the small activities that bring you a sense of peace.
With all that being said, here are a few things that have helped me create a simple routine that feels nurturing:
1. Keep it minimal
I want to emphasize not trying to do a million things in the morning. You have to start small, or else you’re going to overwhelm yourself. Start with your basic needs, and then move on to add one thing that feels meaningful to you.
2. Let things be flexible
You don’t have to follow a specifically ordered plan in order to be consistent. It’s okay to switch up the order you do things depending on your needs each morning. Try writing down a ‘menu’ of items you can choose from if it helps reduce overwhelm in the morning.
3. Do what you want (and need)
Often we think that if we follow the exact order other people do their routines, we can be successful like them. Remember that you probably have different needs, different interests, and different responsibilities than others. Success doesn’t come from a specific routine but rather a dedication to pursuing what matters to you.