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My 4-Step Process to Create a Solid, Easy Nighttime Routine

habit podcast routine Jan 16, 2022

How mornings start the night before!



What’s the secret to having a better morning routine? Creating a solid, easy nighttime routine. That’s because mornings start the night before!


This “secret” may seem logical, but sometimes it can feel difficult to wake up and be ourselves. That may be because you don’t feel rested or prepared for the day. 


A solid morning routine is largely dependent on if there is a solid night routine. Creating a solid, easy nighttime routine can be life-changing and life-giving. This will help you start feeling rested and ready for your day!


Not sure where to start? 


In this episode, I walk you through my four-step process to creating your own personal nighttime routine. This routine will meet both your desires and needs, and match the season you are in. 


Even if you plan a wonderful nighttime routine, there will still be things (or spouses or children) that get in the way. So, on top of my 4-step process, I also share about five common obstacles you might be up against and how to conquer each one. 


You’ll leave the episode with practical ways to improve your nighttime routine and end your days feeling the way you want to feel—both at night AND in the morning.


Episode references: 365. Do Something List, 357. Lower the Hurdles, 352. The Deep Breath, 350. Deprioritize, 348. How to Create Momentum, 274. Exhaustion with Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith



About a few other things...


Reclaim your creative power and rediscover who you actually are! If you’re ready to come back home to yourself, to be able to say that you know who you are and what matters to you, take my foundation course, “Finding Me.” It’s OK that you’ve lost parts of yourself along the way; but as you learn to anchor back into who you are and align your life to what matters to you, you’ll find that you have more strength, more fulfilment, and more creativity to bring to your important roles and responsibilities.


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Songs Credit: Pleasant Pictures Music Club




We all want to have better mornings. So what's the secret? A solid nighttime routine. Repeat after me: mornings start the night before.


The past few years, I've taught some super popular classes on habit formation. And at one point in the class, I typically asked the woman about what time of day they would love to personally focus their habits on, because it's good to have some boundaries. And the high majority of women who have attended these classes have said the morning.


 I love a good morning routine. We had a whole episode on morning routines in the fall of 2021 that I highly recommend because when you win the morning, you win the day and it can be not just life-changing, but life giving to wake up rested and to start a morning routine that is in alignment with how you want to feel.


So whenever women say that they want to work on their mornings, guess where I tell them to start: the night. A solid morning routine is largely dependent on if there is a solid night routine. Mornings start the night before.


I think if we're all being honest with ourselves, then we know this. We know this and logically, I mean, if we're even just thinking about rest, we know that when we go to bed late, it's really hard to wake up and to feel rested and to be happy and to be ourselves. But this is beyond just the time you go to bed.


This is about the way you end your days and how doing that affects the way that you start your days, too. Today. I'm going to walk you through a four-step process to creating a solid nighttime routine. And then we will walk through the obstacles that you are facing in order to make that routine happen.


Step number one for this process is to choose for yourself. I personally think that the biggest key to a successful nighttime routine, and any routine for that matter, is intention. It doesn't really matter what time you go to bed.


And I'm going to be really honest, it does not matter what time you go to bed. It matters how you go to bed. It doesn't matter what you are doing, it matters how you feel about what you are doing. It's the choosing that makes a routine intentional and an intentional routine feels good. And when a routine feels good, you're going to stick with the easier and more long-term too.


And I feel like I just Legally Blonde there on accident, like talking about exercise and endorphins, but truly it's the choosing. You want to choose for yourself what your nighttime routine is going to be. So the shoulds cannot be part of this process.


Do you know what a great nighttime routine could look like plugging in your phone, watching Netflix for an hour, washing your face, brushing your teeth and going to bed at 11:00 PM. That can be a really great nighttime routine. It's the intention that matters more than what you do. And it's how you feel about what you.


The good news is that having a nighttime routine doesn't have to follow any prescriptions. And it doesn't mean you have to go to bed early. Your routine just has to be chosen. So I want you to put on your choosing hat.


The second step I have for you is to consider your feelings. We talked about this a lot in the morning routine episode, but I need to bring it in here. First, I want to offer something to you. A nighttime routine is not about getting things done. It's about winding down. This means you do not have to be productive at night and you also don't need to have a 20 step nighttime routine that is hard to keep up.


You will better be able to direct what you're going to do at night if you're not only based in choice, but also if those routines are based in how you want to feel as you are winding down at night. And the best news about it being feeling-driven is that you can do that in the five or 10 minutes. Or you can do that in two hours, if it takes a long time for you to wind down.


So I'm going to give you some ideas on how you might want to feel about your nighttime routine and how you want your night timer routine to help you feel. Maybe: peaceful, gentle, calm, relaxing, connected. You get to decide, go back to our growth spurt from last week.


You still get to decide about what these feelings are, because some of you might say productive is how I want to feel at night, and maybe that's because your own rhythm, your own natural body rhythm, it means that you get the most quality work done at night. So again, you won't go back to the first step: you get to choose.


And then as part of that, choose the feeling. How do you want your nighttime routine to help you feel?


The third step is to cast a vision. I define a routine as a set amount of time with a series of habits, all stacked together. So when you're thinking about a routine, you're actually thinking about something that has made up of a lot of smaller habits.


See what you want to do when you are casting a vision, as you want to think of things you actually want to regularly do at a certain time of day in this case, nighttime, that can help create the emotions you want to. Before you cast a vision, I would just brainstorm. What are some things that can help you feel a certain feeling if you want to feel connective, maybe some things that go under that are a nighttime prayer as a family, maybe pillow talk with your spouse, maybe Marco polling a friend, or connecting with people on Facebook. Facebook can be allowed, right?


If you want to feel peaceful, then maybe your nighttime routine would have things like meditation or playing the piano. Maybe that helps you give you peace. Listening to soft music, taking a bubble bath.


So first brainstorm, what are some possible things that you can do that are usually habits that will create the emotions you want? It. And then after you have that brainstorm, I want you to take what you have and cast a vision of what that could look like all put together, all stacked together into a routine. And again, it can be a five minute routine or can be a couple hour routine. You get to choose.


So maybe your ideal vision of what a nighttime routine could be, would be like that Netflix routine I shared where you brush your teeth, watch Netflix for an hour, go to bed. Or maybe you have something like a skincare routine followed by journaling, meditation, prayer, and bed. Maybe your vision could be checking in with your spouse, drinking tea while reading your book, brushing your teeth and bed again.


You get to choose, but take your brainsorm, pull some from it and cast a vision of what you would love your ideal nighttime routine to look like.


Ideal is a key word here. Okay. Because next step number four is to care how you start. Did you see all the illiteration there? Basically what that stuff means is to start small. You cast a vision of your ideal routine, but you do not start there. Take care on how you start.


Don't do the full routine night one, and then expect yourself to stick with it. That requires way too much energy that we do not have. Instead, what you want to do is start small by choosing one habit that you can establish and get consistent. And then go on from there.


You have two ways of starting small.


Look at that string of habits, all stacked together into a routine, and just go back to the beginning, what would be the first step? And that's what you focus on starting with just that first step.


That's option one here's option two that will help you get started. Maybe it's not the routine that's hard. Maybe it's what is getting in the way of that routine.


 Let's say you have some huge hurdles that are just interfering with you even getting started. Phone use could be one, children, two do's around the house... we're going to talk about all these obstacles later. So I would encourage you to think about how you're starting small can actually not have to do with your routine. It could be about establishing a habit that helps lower the hurdle that is getting in the way of you even starting.


We have a whole episode on lowering the hurdle and I'll have that link for you in the show notes, but to show how this could look,I'm going to tell you my personal ideal routine and where I am starting.


My ideal routine looks like this: the kids go down somewhere between 7:30 and 8:30. Sometimes it takes them up to an hour or more to fall asleep. And I typically work after that. At 9:00 PM, I have an alarm that goes off on my watch and my phone. And ideally that means I will then go to my room, plug in my phone, put on my pajamas, do my skincare routine, then I'm going to go back into the living room and watch a show with Brad while eating a treat.


And usually that's about 45 minutes to an hour. After that, we're going to turn off the TV after one episode, then I'll go brush my teeth. Then I'll do my day planner and journals, which takes me about five minutes, total, lay in bed and do a deep breathing meditation, which has me breathing for five deep breaths, that's it. Then I read on my Kindle until I fall asleep.


That's the full, ideal vision of how I like my nights to feel. And I like my nights to feel restful. Like I'm just resting, I'm not working and not being productive. I'm not cleaning. I'm taking time to connect, but I'm mostly resting. So right now, I'm at the point in my life where I am doing that routine most nights. Sometimes I work longer, so that does happen. Or sometimes I get lost on my phone. So that happens too.


But for me right now, it's less about getting the routine done and my biggest problem is the time that I am starting the routine. If I work later, if I'm on my phone later, then everything starts later and I go to bed later, which makes my morning start in ways I personally do not like, so if I were to be my own coach and I would ask myself, so where are you going to start small?


I would start both of the beginning of my routine and my biggest hurdle, which is putting my phone and my laptop to bed so I stop working or fiddling around. So that would be where I start. And I just want to say starting there at the beginning for me also creates momentum. I don't do all those steps every single night, all in order. But if I plug in my phone that seems to get the momentum going on the rest of my routine. So that's why I would start there.


Okay. So hopefully that gives you a good example. I'm going to review the four-step process to getting us all nighttime routine, and I'll tell you what's next. Number one is choose for yourself. Two, consider your feelings. Three, cast a vision. And Four, care how you start.


Coming up, I'm going to walk you through your biggest obstacles. The first I quick word from our sponsors.


K that four-step process was awesome and all, but what about real life? And what about things that happen in our real lives that interfere us with establishing those good intentions and those visions we have in mind. That's why I'm going to spend the rest of this time talking about the biggest obstacles that you, yes you, are facing to implementing a good nighttime routine specifically.


I went on Instagram and I asked the question, "what is getting in the way of you creating a nighttime routine?" I got so many responses and they basically were the same few things, but to help make this more real, I'm going to share a voicemail I got from a progressor named Allie describing her nighttime.


"Hey, Monica. My name is Allie. I would say my biggest nighttime routine hang up is that I can't decide what exactly it is that I want to do when my kids go to bed. I think I breathe such a sigh of relief when they finally go to bed that I end up plopping down and sitting on my phone and schooling for way too long. Because what I want to do is get the house tidy up really quickly, and then relax with a book and a cup of tea, or maybe watch a good show or get some laundry folded. Um, but I just had kind of seemed to just poop out and then not only do I not do something nice, I ended up staying way too late and I'm not even enjoying myself when I stay up late. I'm just puttering. Like I'll stay on my phone for awhile and then I'll finally go to clean up the kitchen and then I'll start snacking and clean up really slowly. And before I know it, it's past 11 and then I'll get back in bed and maybe read for five or 10 minutes and go, oh my gosh, it's so late. I have to go to bed. So I've always been a night owl, but I wish that if I were going to stay up late, I could at least enjoy myself and feel like I did something that was relaxing. But instead it feels like I'm kind of punishing myself over and over because I cannot even seem to move enough to get myself up and moving so that I can enjoy myself. So anyway, I'd love to hear your thoughts on that."


Thanks so much. Allie, I'm trying to not just freak out about the amazing call in that this was. So thank you. But, just as a former night owl slash that is still a big part of my natural tendencies. I just want to tell you, I related to this so much, I'm sure all of us do her listening in some way or.


So in fact, instead of me breaking down point by point your obstacles, I'm going to use yours as an illustration for the main obstacles that I see people facing, which are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 big obstacles.


The biggest obstacle is numbing behavior. So many talked about this. I want time alone after the kids are down. And when I finally have that time alone, I get sucked into numbing behavior. I relate to this again because the other night I found myself searching on Google, "Why do people hate Chris Pratt?" Right? If you find yourself down the internet worm holes, or maybe other numbing behaviors, which could be cleaning or being productive, that's a numbing behavior, but also stereotypically can be like,you don't know where you are and things are just happening, whether it's on the phone or on Netflix or eating a ton, which by the way, I don't think there's anything wrong with eating a ton.


But anyway, you're just going into numbing route. If that's what's happening, this is what I want you to remember: numbing behavior is simply a sign that your soul is malnourished. If you've ever seen an animal that is just so hungry because they haven't been properly fed and they suddenly get their little container full of food, they go crazy on it. Right. And it's because they've been malnourished.


The same is true with your soul numbing behavior is just a sign that your soul is malnourished. If you find yourself sucked into numbing behavior, regardless of what the behavior is, I want you to think about what am I missing right now with my soul and how can I nourish that part of my soul and likely earlier in the day. So many of us are putting our own rest or relaxation, our own creativity, our own spirituality on the back burner until everything gets done.


And that means you are starting your nighttime completely depleted, and you are so malnourished that you are getting sucked into easy, lower-energy required ways of filling a cup. And what it's doing is it's not filling. K. It's just not. So think about if you are second to the numbing behavior, what can you do to find that nourishment? Not just at night, but I would say even earlier in the day, so that cup has already, at least has something in it. So you can have the energy you need, which actually takes me to my second biggest obstacle you reported in about... you are exhausted.


One of the women saidtheir biggest obstacle is "not having the energy to start. So you put it off too long." How many of us feel that way. We're just so exhausted that it, it feels like just another thing. Even if your nighttime routine is laying in the bath, it feels like too much effort to fill up the bath. So that's why you get sucked into the numbing behavior. So we had an amazing guest on our show years ago, Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, who talked about why you're exhausted all that. And it can be physical exhaustion, but also could be other things, emotional, spiritual, creative exhaustion, connective exhaustion. There's a lot of ways that we could be exhausted. So I would encourage you to first name how you are exhausted and what can happen again sooner in the day to help you with that specific way that you are exhausted.


Another thing is to ask for more. Okay, you need to ask for help. And the third way I would encourage you to, to, to beat this exhaustion obstacle is to, instead of doing a nighttime routine, that requires a ton of energy, focus on just one small thing you can do at night on the worst of days, that will help you feel the feeling you want to feel.


And focusing on even that one thing, even it requires one minute of your time, that will not only help you with the feelin, it will also create momentum and that momentum will create more energy. So maybe you will find yourself doing other things that help with those feelings. Maybe you'll find yourself going down that habit stack of the next thing that could work as part of your ideal nighttime routine.


But even if not that small amount of time, With low energy required, we'll create the feeling that you want. So that's actually made biggest tip with exhaustion, focus on creating momentum instead of trying to produce a ton of energy. And we have a whole episode on that too. So I'll link to that in the show notes, it was a really popular episode.


 So far we've covered numbing behavior and exhaustion. The next one, and actually it was the most commonly answered hurdle is PHONE. So this was said by someone "I get too tired and skip the routine and go to phone scrolling." That's what Allie talked about too. Again, this is just the easiest, low energy required way that we can, that we think we're filling the bucket.


So since this seems to be the number one hurdle, I want you to take big steps to lower this hurdle. We want your nighttime routine to be easier to do so in order to start it, we want to make your number one obstacle harder to do. I normally stay away from extremes. I don't like extremes, but I also have no problem with making your routine easier to do by making your number one obstacle harder to do.


And you get to decide what this looks like. When I share my, my normal nighttime routine that usually happens most nights. I said, my first step is to plug my phone inside my bedroom, which is also not on my nightstand. So it's in a random spot in my bedroom. And that is me lowering the hurdle so that I am able to start any part of my routine that can help create that peaceful and connected way that I want to feel.


So, whether that's plugging your phone in another room and walking away or Lockheed in an, an, a drawer or turning it off, you get to decide, make this obstacle harder. And perhaps that should be the way you start small is just focusing on getting in the habit where your phone is hard to access. That was the third obstacle.


The next one is children. A lot of people said it's having young kids or toddlers who won't go to bed. But I also heard this a lot about teenagers. This is what one woman said. She said, :they stay up and randomly need you at bedtime." So with this, let's just zoom out for a moment and let's acknowledge the objective facts here.


Having children. Interferes with what we want and need to do. It's just a fact, it's just part of the seasons that we face regularly with children. No matter what stage they're at with our own nighttime routine too. So sometimes it's like all we can do to just get a child to bed and not go to bed. Other times it's a little bit easier.


So I just want you to acknowledge the zoom out. And that the stress might be a season of your life. And I also want to say, we have had terrible sleepers and our fourth child has been our worst. And so I relate to this so much. It took him hours to go to bed up until just recently. Now it's about a half an hour, so I relate.


Okay. So if you are struggling with children, interfering with a nighttime routine for you, zoom out and acknowledge it and then zoomto the feeling that you want, you might not be able to have an even 10 minute routine right now. What you can focus on though, is the feeling, think about one thing you can control at night that can help you create that feeling.


In spite of also being in the middle of trying to get kids to sleep or waiting for them being up or helping your kids with homework who were up later, what is one thing you can hit pause on all the things and simply take that moment to create the feeling. So this is where I would think about maybe just the deep breath.


Okay. We also had a whole episode on that and that I think about it. Maybe this can be playing a song that you want to, to hear. Um, maybe it can be reading one page in a book. Maybe it can, it can just be shutting yourself on a closet for one minute. Cause he just need a minute. K. So think about one. One thing you can control even with these kids.


And even if you only do that, one thing that is still a routine, here's what one person said, quote, "by the time the kids are in bed, I just need to land the couch and breathe." my friend, that, that person who wrote this, that has a routine, and that is something that you can do. So if you need that, choose it, you have my permission to make that your routine.


Okay. The fifth and final option. Is the feeling. And also the reality that you have no time. Many of us at night have to dues, obligations, work things that we have to do. Our, our kids' house to manage.MOne woman said, "it feels like the kids and my husband are the priority and nights don't seem like time for me."


Another woman said "I'm trying to do all this stuff I can't do during the day because a toddler and work." I understand this friends. I am mostly a stay-at-home mom. Most of the time that I work as either like a little bit of time in the afternoon when I can convince my almost four year old to do something else or at night I have largely worked at night.


I understand I get this. What I would encourage you to do is if you are getting caught up in the feeling there's no time at night, you need to deprioritize my friend. You need to look at what's on that list. And take a few things, if not most of it, this is an essential part of having a nighttime routine Deprioritize.


And in the process of taking things off the list, you're able to put yourself on the list, even in those small bite-sized ways we talked about, again, this is a mindset shift. Your routine can be just one small thing and you are worth that time. Start with a minute. Just start with a deep breath. We also have a whole episode on deprioritizing.


I promise I didn't mean this to be the case, but these are some big tools that I use in our work together in this community. So I'll link that in the show, in the show notes too, we just talked about so many obstacles and it can feel really overwhelmed. And I just want to give you a little glimpse of what can be on the other side of this.


Also on Instagram, I asked what would change for you if you had a solid nighttime routine? Here's what some of the women said: I would get up earlier and be more rested overall. I'd be more fulfilled at the end of the day, my canteen would be filled and that I would be able to pour and give some to others. It would be so freeing of anxiety and bad habits. I'd be able to read. I'd be a much more energetic and pleasant person. I'd have more peace of mind, but the most common answer that came in was EVERYTHING. Everything can change. This is why we talk about habits. Just as much as we talk about identity and fulfillment, because habits are what free you to living the life you want to live and being the person you want to be.


And that is what I want from you. This is what is waiting for you with an intentional nighttime routine.


I hope this episode gave you the hug and kick in the pants that you need to grow. The Progress Pointers from this week are actually just that four-step process. I shared with you on how to create a solid nighttime routine. I'll share them a bunch on Instagram the next week, but if you want them in a graphic form, it'll be sent right to my go get our newsletter on Tuesday.


Your do something challenge for this week is to decide how you want your nighttime to FEEL. When you do that, when you decide that you can DM me about it, you can email me about it. So I can spotlight one of you here this week. I want to have a spotlight for progressor named Jenny. She is on Instagram @brokentobeautiful, and I love the ideas that she shared with me about what she has on her own DSLs.


Do something list for 20. Here's some of the ideas she had make six quilts, do food testing nights with family that sounds really intriguing. Have a no spend month and go horseback. I love those ideas. And I just want to remind you, it's not too late to make your own DSL two weeks ago. We had a great episode on that, and I know I've referenced a ton of episodes today.


Don't worry about keeping track of all of them. They're all in the show notes for you, and that should be in your app. Or you can just go to about Click on the episode. You'll see all the show notes. I want to remind you to not forget and join the sticky habit challenge because we are starting in two weeks.


I would love to have you there. Thank you so much for listening now. Go and do something with what you learned today.


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