“Your morning routine generates a 10x return for good or for bad. Make it good.”
- Todd Stocker (Becoming the Fulfilled Leader)
There is something “magical” about the morning! Strong evidence suggests a disciplined and purposeful morning block of time results in greater productivity, personal fulfillment, and success. Each morning, we have an opportunity to shape the course of the entire day. Properly preparing allows us to face the day with more energy, intentionality, and focus.
There is no magical morning without proper preparation and structure. Join me in exploring seven “keys to success” that will help kickstart and sustain a powerful morning ritual. If done consistently, you will realize greater personal fulfillment and positive results.
Key #1: Prepare for Success
- Get Sleep – Waking up early requires getting sufficient rest. According to the CDC, the average adult needs 7+ hours of sleep each night. This does not mean simply being in bed. It means sleeping. After reading Matthew Walker’s book, Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams, I learned the concept of “sleep opportunity.” This means allowing enough hours to get sufficient sleep. If a person needs seven hours of sleep, s/he should have eight to nine hours of sleep opportunity. This means a longer block of time in bed so that the needed amount of sleep occurs. If a person needs seven hours of sleep, and it takes him/her one hour to fall asleep, s/he should plan on being in bed (lights off) for eight hours. For years, sleep was an underappreciated part of my life. Now, I see it as the keystone habit for my success. If I have little sleep, I do not get up to exercise, eat right, or read. If I fail to exercise, eat right, or read, my day starts off unfocused and chaotic.
- Minimize Future Decisions – The less to think about in the morning, the more likely it will be successful. The night before, lay out clothes, prepare breakfast, gather materials, and make other small decisions typically reserved for the morning. Doing this, allows for greater focus and time on a morning routine. When adding up all this time, it can quickly top thirty minutes. Wasted time and mental energy that can be devoted to one’s morning routine.
Key #2: Kickstart Your Day
- Drink water – Since the body has been without water for six to eight hours, it needs hydration. According to Rania Batayneh (article link), nutritionist and author of The One, One, One Diet, starting the day with a glass of water yields the following health benefits: it increases levels of alertness, it heightens brain activity, it boosts immunity, and it kickstarts your metabolism. This is a simple way to obtain major health benefits.
- Go for a short walk – For the past six to eight hours, the body has been in an immobile position. Aching joints and muscles can often be the case after a night’s rest. Therefore it is vital to move. The body was made to move and being sedentary has major health ramifications. This is not a call to a strenuous bout of exercise. Rather, three minutes of walking is a simple way to wake up and meet the day.
Key #3: Align Your North Star
- Greater Purposes – If you have not determined a personal mission statement, I highly recommend doing so. This simple statement aligns who you are and what you want to do. A guiding purpose gives a person a framework to say yes and no to things. When something is not in line with a person’s mission statement, it is easier to say “no.”
- Primary Goals – To live out guiding purposes, it is essential to have goals. These goals range from the small (reading a book) to the big (running a marathon). When in line with one’s mission statement, a person can work toward how s/he wants to live out life. What do you want to accomplish? How are you tracking toward accomplishments? Setup a time to review these goals to better realize success.
Key #4: Sharpen Your Focus
- Reading – The benefits of reading are endless! To name a few, reading exposes a person to new ideas, sharpens analytical and comprehension skills, improves focus and concentration, improves overall health, aids in memory, provides motivation, makes a person smarter, and the list could go on and on.
- Prayer/Meditation – Quieting the soul and mind is essential. Taking time to be still and thankful is important each day. A thankful person is better equipped to tackle new problems. By spending time intentionally focusing and relaxing, you can reduce stress and put current challenges in perspective.
- Journaling – Taking time to reflect on something you have read, thought about, or are exploring is enhanced by journaling. I encourage coaching clients to journal their thoughts to distill information/learnings and reflect upon the past. Such a practice allows you to look back at where you have been and where you want to go.
Key #5: Strengthen Your Body
- Exercise – A great exercise routine includes flexibility, balance, cardiovascular, and weight training. Each are essential to strengthening the mind, body, and emotions. I encourage you to start in a sustainable way. If you have not walked or run in awhile, commit to a five minute walk each day. Each week, add one minute. If you have not stretched in awhile, find a five minute YouTube yoga video, and complete it. Over time, you will build your strength, endurance, and flexibility resulting in a stronger body, mind, and emotional standing.
Key #6: Feed Your Body, Mind, and Emotions
- Eat a healthy breakfast – I am not a dietician, but I can confidently say that starting the day with a healthy breakfast is essential for daily success! Eat a balanced breakfast of proteins, fruits, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates. During breakfast, I drink a smoothie with various fruits, vegetables, and supplements. On my way to work, some type of hot tea helps.
- Eat a healthy lunch – Packing a lunch the night before helps both the pocketbook and one’s health. By doing this, it is easy to plan healthy choices as opposed to quick options. Quick options often result is less healthy alternatives.
- Snack smartly – Planning and packing healthy snacks makes it more likely they will be consumed as opposed to the donuts, cookies, and other options in the employee breakroom. Nuts, dried fruits, and other healthy alternatives fuel the body to get through the day.
Key #7: Nurture Your Relationships
- Connect with a loved one – Starting the day out with positive interactions with loved ones sets a positive tone. If possible, take five minutes to eat breakfast together. Or, spend less than a minute thank a loved one for what they do to help you. It is amazing how strong relationships with loved ones foster greater confidence throughout the day.
- Write thank-you cards – Creating a mindset of thankfulness goes a long way to develop a positive outlook on life. According to Dr. Guy Winch (author of Emotional First Aid), “Gratitude is an emotion that grounds us and is a great way to balance out the negative mindset that uncertainty engenders.” Thank you cards are a practical way to foster a thankful mindset. Take five minutes to build into a relationship.
Why this is important
Starting the morning off right is essential to set the tone for the day. Early wins create a positive mindset. For many people, their mind is clearer and fresher in the morning allowing them to be more creative. As with anything, there is not magical formula. For some people these keys will not resonate. I would encourage all people to listen to their body, mind, and soul to determine what works for them.
As you plan for 2022, I encourage you to establish a morning (or some other part of the day) routine. Such morning habits create more stability, creativity, and substance to your day.
Go out there and win the morning!
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Disclaimer: This blog is not legal advice, but merely informed opinion or general information meant for no particular purpose. Issues addressed in this blog often implicate federal, state, and local labor and employment laws. This blog is not intended as a substitute for legal advice. Readers should consult labor and employment counsel to determine whether their particular policies, procedures, decisions, or courses of action comply with such laws.