The most successful people I have researched in my countless hours of studies all have one really powerful trait in common. They have a morning routine to jumpstart their day. Some have routines that last just fifteen minutes, whereas others have routines that last upwards of two hours! Many of the routines have certain common aspects. Here is a list that I believe represents the most common elements across the board: early rising, gratitude, meditation, learning, movement, and a review of their goals and priorities for the day. While your morning may not include all of these in the beginning, just adding a couple of these with a strategy to incorporate the rest will prove to make a massive impact on your life. I know it did in my life.
#1 Early Rising
There is a mentor of mine who is in the office at 4:30 am, which is 2.5 hours before work officially starts, to prepare for his day. I personally think that is a bit crazy, but it works for him. While you don’t have to wake up between 3:30 and 4:00 am to have a productive day, it is essential you provide sufficient time to get your mind and body prepared for a powerful and productive day. Even just starting with a 15-minute-earlier wake-up time will make an immeasurable impact on your life.
One of my favorite authors and leaders is a man by the name of John DeMartini. He is a multi-millionaire and behavioral specialist and he says he never gets out of bed in the morning until he has tears of inspiration and gratitude rolling down his face. Imagine if you literally started every day with tears of gratitude and inspiration for what lay in front of you. Do you think that would transform your day from what it currently is to what it could be? Now, I know it may seem like a stretch to get to that level at this point, but you could start to build that mental muscle. How about if, instead of creating tears of gratitude, you started your day listing 3 things you are grateful for? You could choose to acknowledge your gratitude for things that are going well, or you could take challenges and express gratitude for facing these challenges and for what they are allowing you to become.
The more I study successful people, the more I realize how many of them attribute much of their success in all the areas of their life to their meditation practice; to their ability to either quiet the noise in their head or, at the very least, sit and be present in the face of all the noise around them. It is about developing a level of mindfulness and presence that carries into all aspects of your life. It is about learning to enjoy the process of being with yourself and having control over your emotions and your state. When just beginning the process of meditation, two minutes is going to feel like two hours, but as you continue on the journey, you will begin to enjoy the time you spend alone with yourself in silence. There are many different types of meditation. It takes some exploring to find what works best for you, but if you are looking for a good starting point, I would suggest reading books by Pema Chodron or listening to Tara Brach’s “Smile Meditation.” It is one of my favorites.
One of my favorite quotes about learning is attributed to many different authors, and while I was unable to ascertain the true origin of the quote, its power is not lost in the ambiguity of its origin. It is, “The day we stop learning is the day we stop living.” Physiologically, we know that when we stop moving, our body begins to break down. The same is true for our mind. When we stop learning, our mind starts to decay. We are the only creatures on the planet with a prefrontal cortex capable of conscious choice and processing complex pieces of information. We are the only creatures on the planet that wake up and make a volitional choice as to what we will choose to learn and focus on. I have found it extremely empowering to wake up and start my day reading or listening to something that stimulates my mind. It may be related to health, business, finance, spirituality, relationships, or a hobby, such as wine and travel. The key is to read or listen to something that is going to engage your mind and get the mental juices flowing.
The most powerful thing for me in the morning is to get my body moving. My entire day is different when I start it with some form of movement, as opposed to when I lose the battle of the bed and end up succumbing to the power of the pillow. The great thing about movement in the morning is that you can accomplish two things at the same time. I start everyday doing some form of yoga, mobility, and/or calisthenics. I always do this while listening to a podcast on health, business, finance, philosophy, or spirituality so I am able to accomplish two morning activities at the same time. This is my favorite part of the morning.
#6 Daily Goals/Priorities
A powerful exercise that is a common theme in people much more successful than myself is preparing a list of the top five priorities or goals for the day that must be accomplished before they go to sleep at night. Some of the goals may be simple, and some may be a bit more complex. Many of the seemingly simple tasks are what lead to the extraordinary results, but we have a tendency to put them off over and over again. Try this activity for a week, and you will see that you are accomplishing more for your life than you ever have before. The key is to make it things that are not already a habit in your life. The key to moving your life forward is to build on areas you have currently not mastered. For example, if you are a fitness nut and workout every day already, don't add that to your list. Add things that you need to do but are not currently doing. For example, as I continue to create this website, I would write down things like “write a blog article,” “send my e-guides to the designer for cover page creation,” “read an article on creating a podcast,” and “complete the skeleton for the website design.” Some of these things will not be able to be completed in one day and may need to be pushed to the next day, but I am working on something every day to move the different areas of my life in the right direction.
If you are a fellow struggler with the battle of the bed, then this may seem overwhelming at the start. I know it was. and still can be for me! The key is to just get started. Maybe you will only start with 15 min and you will include the daily goals/priorities and 10 minutes of exercise. Maybe you want to start with 5 minutes of meditation and reading. The key is to just get started. Start with the EASIEST things that you already enjoy doing. After you build a solid morning habit of doing the things that you already enjoy doing, then you can add in the other categories, but the key is to put the steps in motion. And as always, enjoy the process! This is meant to be fun!
Some mornings are tougher than others. Some days you will hit snooze more than you should. You might even sleep through your alarm. Every day is a new day. Set the intention the night before and get a little better each and every day.