Last December, Lee Rubin blogged about a morning ritual that doubled her company’s revenues. She calls it the Three by Three (3x3), and a few months ago, she turned the exercise into a template anyone can download and use. The exercise is simple, but thought-provoking. It asks you to spend a few minutes each morning to identify your primary goals for the day, reflect on three things you’re thankful for, and recite three positive affirmations. I decided to give it a try and see how it impacted my own life.
My typical morning routine involves peeling myself out of bed while it’s still dark, groping my way to the coffee pot, and walking back and forth through the house until I’ve made myself look presentable enough for work. In some ways, it’s a valueless routine. Ultimately, I accomplish my goal of getting to work each morning, but I don’t achieve much else. Implementing the 3x3 exercise has empowered me to change that.
My job, like most, is riddled with distractions—a constant slew of emails, voicemails, meetings, and requests come in daily. I start each morning with a constantly-growing laundry list of to-dos. With so many distractions, it can be difficult to focus on what’s most important. Now, I take the time to identify my three primary goals for the day, before I ever step foot into the office. This has been hugely beneficial. By taking the time to identify three things I absolutely need to accomplish each day, I can make sure to prioritize them and handle distractions more productively based on their importance (or lack of importance, for that matter). It also helps me to identify daily goals outside of work. This includes things like calling my parents, finalizing vacation plans, or setting aside an hour in the evening for a passion project. It’s been helpful to me to identify two work goals each morning, and then a third personal goal that will bring fulfillment to my evening.
The second part of the 3x3 is probably my favorite. By identifying three things I’m thankful for each morning, I start the day on a positive note and appreciate what’s to come. This helps me to ward off pessimism in a world that’s often fraught with negativity. It reminds me to be thankful for things big and small, like a supportive family, reliable transportation to my job, or even just a sunny day and a cozy sweatshirt. There is so much to be thankful for, and it’s a shame we often fail to truly recognize it. This exercise is especially helpful to me on hectic workdays when I’m overwhelmed and stressed out. A few weeks ago I had to cancel plans and work on a Saturday in an attempt to meet a deadline that seemed impossible to reach. By taking the time to do my 3x3, I was able to view the situation in a new way. I realized how fortunate I am to have a reliable job, and found pride in the fact that my role was crucial to ensuring the task was accomplished on time. Without my 3x3 that day, I’m positive I would’ve viewed the situation in a negative, disruptive way.
The third part of the 3x3 is the one I, admittedly, struggle with the most. A positive affirmation is a powerful statement that can help bring strength and meaning to our days. When I feel doubtful or lack confidence in myself, a positive affirmation helps to bring that confidence back. By identifying three affirmations each morning, you use words to strengthen yourself. I found that this exercise empowered me to strive toward fulfilling my potential. It’s a strong reminder of the power of positive thoughts.
To get the most benefit out of this exercise, Lee recommends sitting down each morning to write out your 3x3 on paper. I found that this technique helped me to focus completely on the task at hand, and also allowed me to go back and look at the exercise later. Another technique that works well for me is to recite my 3x3 aloud each morning… on my daily commute! I’m sure other drivers must think I’m crazy as I drive by reciting my goals, what I'm thankful for, and affirmations out loud, but I’ve found this verbal technique to be very beneficial. The key is to identify what works best for you, and empower yourself to bring meaning to your morning, and make each day awesome.
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