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Pamela Johnston Headshot

5 Things You Already Did Wrong Before 9 a.m.

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You roll over and slam your fist down viciously on the snooze button, twice, three times, until you finally peel open one eyelid to see that it is 21 minutes after you meant to get up. You do this every freaking morning and yet somehow every freaking morning you still manage to be surprised at the magic evaporation of those 21 minutes.

Congratulations. You are not even out of bed yet and you have already dug yourself into an emotional and spiritual rut that could take all day to climb out of.

You are not alone, of course. While no one excuses bad behavior like growling at a colleague at 3 p.m. for "not being an afternoon person," society has somehow accepted that it's okay to grunt, stumble and bitch our way through the start of every day. And so we do. What we don't realize is it's not just our bodies but our souls as well that need sustenance for a long day ahead, and just like a good breakfast can start the day off right, a good outlook at 6:30 a.m. can shape the way you get through to 6:30 p.m.

Here are five things you probably already did wrong this morning -- and five ways you can get every day off to a better start, including breaking up with your snooze button once and for all.

  1. Don't predict the future. Stub your toe in the middle of the afternoon and you think, "ouch." But stub it at 7 a.m. and somehow it becomes an omen, a sign that this is going to be "one of those days." Talk about yourself-fulfilling prophesies.

    Instead, savor the present. Pick one thing to be grateful for that's unique to today. Maybe it's a beautiful morning. Maybe it's a cold miserable morning but you have a great new coat to wear. Maybe it's the person in bed next to you, or maybe it's the fact that you have the bed all to yourself. However you look at it, there is always something. It's up to you to find it.

  2. Don't use a morning screw up as an excuse all day. You're in a hurry, haven't had breakfast and so you grab a handful of Oreos for the road. Then lunch rolls around and you let yourself have extra-large fries and a burger -- hey, you've already blown the diet.

    Instead, take control of your own reset button. Some mornings there will be Oreos and other things you could have done better. Recognize that the problem is not the cookies, it's you. Forgive yourself, then challenge yourself. I had Oreos for breakfast so I will take a long walk at lunch...

  3. Don't wake up to your to-do list. Busy, successful people have a hard time letting go of their obligations. That's not a bad thing... once your day begins. No matter what kinds of things are on your to do list, to start stewing over them while flossing in the shower is to miss the shower itself, that little bit of luxury to which we treat ourselves each morning. So you don't enjoy your shower AND nothing on your to do list gets done.

    Instead, force yourself to think of at least one thing you get to do today. That's very different from have to do. This one thing is sure to give you pleasure and joy... a good hot shower counts, so does a hug from your child, a great song on your iPod to listen to on the way to work, and any number of small things you are lucky enough to get to experience. You still get to your to-do list, so don't worry.

  4. Don't settle. Everyone has a few favorite outfits -- the suit that makes you feel like you belong in the C-Suite, the pants that make you look particularly skinny. When you are wearing these outfits the answer is always yes -- yes, I want to be president of the PTA, yes, I want to stop by that cocktail party after work. Then there are the "I'm not going to see anyone today, so I guess I'll wear these," shoes that you swear add 10 years to your look. Every time you put on an outfit you don't like you are telling yourself all the things you won't do today, all the possibilities that won't happen or the chances you won't take. And all that before you even go downstairs for coffee.

    Instead, edit and forget it. If you don't like it, get rid of it -- even if you have worn it in the last two years. Stick to fewer, better pieces that really work for you. If you wouldn't wear it to your high school reunion, you don't need to own it anymore.

  5. And finally, back to the snooze button. For goodness sakes, cut it out. Every time you hit the snooze button you are not doing what it is you set out to do that morning, which is get out of bed at whatever time you set the alarm for. You are therefore failing, miserably, at your first task of the day. Those seven minutes of guilty, woozy, semi-sleep is just not worth the karmic hangover.

    Instead, set the alarm for the time you actually have to get up and do it. There, a sense of purpose and accomplishment, and you're still in your pajamas.

And a final, bonus don't: Don't blame the bed. There is no wrong side to get up on, only wrong paths to go down.