One thing a lot of people know about me is that I’m an early bird. It’s partly how much I love watching the rest of the world get up and to be honest I’m just physically incapable of sleeping in (yes, another advantage of having ADHD). Almost everyday I’m awake at 5am. I like to think I get more done than a lot of others do before their morning coffee. I check emails, schedule tweets, but there is one daily ritual that I consider to be an important part of my long-term success. That is my routine morning walk.
Stretching my legs out is a physical activity, but it’s more of a mental exercise for me than anything. I know that it’s no coincidence so many entrepreneurs suffer from health problems, like lack of sleep and stress. When starting a business, it’s easy to become obsessed with your work to the point that every little detail chews away at you slowly. It’s a spiraling phenomenon. The more you hang on, the harder it is to let go at the end of every day.
I’ve definitely been there. There was a time a few years ago when I would lie in bed at night for hours, my mind racing with ideas about how to conquer this project or that problem. That is a symptom of my ADHD, but it was a stressful time at work and it just going way too far. I’m usually a very happy person and I could see myself becoming somebody that I didn’t know.
I wasn’t getting any “me” time. Not one single second, in fact. Taking a morning walk changed everything. Knowing that a beautiful sunrise and a little time reflection was coming in the morning even helped me get to sleep at night.
What do I think about on my morning walks? Well, mostly I’m not trying to think about anything, but it doesn’t always go according to plan. I usually end up thinking about and planning all the little details of what I’ve got to do during the day. It usually ends up being a very productive part of my day. If I do think about work, it’s about my career but in more of a meditative way. Like, just pondering over where I’ve been, where I am now and where I’m hoping to go.
Let me give you an example. The amazing city of Lisbon, Portugal is the latest backdrop for my morning walk. Everyday I get to take in the Atlantic Ocean and the Vasco da Gama Bridge (the longest bridge in Europe). The view is breath-taking, both peaceful and serene compared to where I was last taking my morning walks – weaving through crowds and street vendors on the narrow sidewalks of Bangkok! But believe it or not, the chaos of Thailand was oddly relaxing in a way. It’s funny because now that I’m walking around at the break of dawn in Lisbon where everything is totally quiet, I’m often thinking about Bangkok.
I think everybody – not just entrepreneurs – should find their own “thing” that helps them stay both inspired and sane. For me, it’s a morning walk but for somebody else it could be a hobby or a special place that you go to for just a few minutes or even an hour. Whatever it is, cherish it dearly. It’s part of who you are and you need it.
I’m interested to hear what your “morning walk” is. And if you don’t have your own ritual yet, I hope I’ve talked you into getting one!