Since arriving in Hong Kong almost five months ago, it feels like all of the pieces of my daily life have been thrown up in the air – and they’re slowly coming back down to earth – just not fitting together the same as before.

Moving countries is a major change.  (That’s an understatement!)  I’ve done it twice before (first when I moved to Paris, and then London).  But both times, I had the rhythm of a corporate job to tether me and give structure to my days.

But this time, in Hong Kong, aside from early-morning client appointments, my days are my own and I feel this intense pull to explore.

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This urge is pulling me away from my computer and out into the markets and noodle stands and temples and alleyways.
I just have to get out in it.
To engage with Hong Kong.
I keep saying engage because I don’t know exactly what I’m supposed to do here – I just know I need to be out exploring.

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This deep need to get out and explore is causing a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out.)  I feel like I’m on the cusp of a huge shift – but I don’t know what it is, so I don’t know what I’m supposed to do here, and it makes me feel scattered.

So, having been down the feeling-scattered-and-stuck path before (oh! The angst of leaving the corporate job!) I’ve been working with a coach on one thing that I KNOW makes me feel better – having a solid morning routine.

In the past I’ve gone months in a row with a brilliant morning routine, inspired by Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages.  (I talked all about my morning routine in this podcast episode.)  Even when I had my busy corporate job, a morning ritual was my saving grace, easing me into my day and giving me a bit of peace before spending my peak hours doing something I didn’t love.

But something always seems to happen to break the habit of my morning routine – and this time, I didn’t get it back.  And then we moved to Hong Kong – when everything went up in the air, and the morning routine piece just didn’t fall back into place.

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Here’s the funny thing: I KNOW I feel better when I have a morning routine.  But making myself actually DO the morning routine, ahhh, that’s a bit more tricky…

Rather than starting the day with email and rushing and O.P.P. (Other People’s… Priorities!) – a morning routine sets me up for my best day.  I feel grounded and centered and like I’m following my own agenda.

If only realizing that something was good for you, made it easy to do!

As I’m sure you’ve experienced, starting a new habit is painful.  There’s lots of resistance.  But once you get over that initial hurdle it gets a lot easier, really.

So I’ve been working with a coach on how to bring more resilience into my life, and that starts with a new morning routine.

It’s just that here, everything is just different.

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  • We live in a tiny studio apartment.  No real privacy to meditate in the morning.  Or do yoga, when my husband is stepping around me trying to get ready for his day.
  • I’ve been eating tons of noodles, rice, wontons and dumplings.  Carb overload!  But it’s so good.  And I’m not ready to sacrifice the local food experience quite yet…
  • There are green veggies everywhere in the markets, but I don’t recognize them, and even though I’m an adventurous, confident cook, I’m a little hesitant to just start eating stuff I can’t identify…
  • I’m suddenly not happy just working away in my apartment all day (whereas in London I loved doing this, I could go days on end without seeing anyone except my husband!)  Here in Hong Kong we’re right in the middle of everything and I want to get out!

So here’s what I’m doing to create this new morning routine:

  • Define what the morning routine actually looks like in advance.  Write it down.  Don’t leave it to your early morning brain to ‘figure something out.’
  • Prepare the night before – have everything out and ready to go.
  • Set the intention when you go to bed that you’re going to wake up and do your morning routine.
  • Be open to changing the routine to fit it to your life.
    On sunny days, I’m experimenting with the morning routine on the roof deck.

If you’re curious about starting your own morning routine, I recommend The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod and The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron (this one is more about creativity – but she has an amazing exercise called ‘morning pages’ that I just LOVE!)

I’d love to hear from you … do you have a morning routine?  What makes it work for you?  How have you kept it up (or not) when life starts changing?

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