- Physical being and vitality?
- Level of fulfillment and clarity?
- Sense of purpose and mission?
- Depth of your communication and connection?
MORNINGS ARE MAGICThe greatest inventors, artists and creators had established, consistent morning routines. This included time of deep, interrupted work and starting their day with 100% absolute control. However, in 2016, most people start their days in an extreme state of scattered activities and being stretched in all types of directions. Let’s go through a very typical daily example of how most people start their mornings. The alarm starts blaring at 6:30AM and the snooze button is hit 3 or 4 times before they finally get up in a haze, -- already running late. They grab their iPhone and see an array text messages from co-workers, quickly responding in a panic about the deadline of a current project. Already stressed yet still exhausted, they look at the clock and notice they’re running 12 minutes behind schedule. They rush to get showered, dressed and ready to go, heart rate racing and grabbing whatever snack they can on the way out. Hitting traffic, the levels of frustration skyrocket and they start blaming whoever is around for starting another day scattered, unfocused and stressed out. Sound typical? We’ve all been there and it’s an extremely common experience.
WAKE UP AT LEAST 15 MINUTES EARLIERWe’ve all been through the example above, starting our day scattered, in a rush and on automatic pilot. When we’re in the above state, we’re constricted – our heart rate is high, our mindset is narrow and we see the world through a stressful lens. One of the core components of establishing a morning routine is to simply wake up earlier and slow down. This is the foundational practice to start re-wiring your mind and body to adapting to having powerful mornings. Even if you don’t do a specific ritual or habit and simply wake up earlier, you will set a more positive tone to your day.
CREATE SPACE OR SPACE WILL BE CREATED FOR YOUEvery day in life, we have two things: Stimulus, or events that occur and Response, how we perceive and respond to those events. That’s pretty standard…from the person cutting us off on our way to work, to a text message we receive or a stranger saying hello. I’ll have you consider that in between these two there lies a brief moment of space. In that space, we have the power to choose how to respond and perceive our situation…and when we have choice, we have ultimate freedom. However, because space is so rare in life these days, most people simply respond automatically. The second step to creating a morning routine is to harness the power of breathing, sitting still or an active meditation. The research benefits are countless with meditation, yet, the most common response is: “I don’t have enough time” or “I don’t know how to do it”. There is no right or wrong way to do it, simply sit still for 3-5 minutes.
EMPTY YOUR CUP, IT’S OVERFLOWINGThink of our minds as a tall glass of water. Through our days and experiences, this water starts to fill up with thoughts, emotions, triggers and more. It keeps filling and filling, yet, we never take time to pour some out and ultimately it overflows and spills everywhere. That’s exactly why journaling is a crucial aspect of a morning routine. Journaling allows us to take the clutter inside our minds and physically release it to paper – clearing our headspace and giving us the power of clarity. Journaling after meditation is especially powerful as things may come up during your session that can be life insights, creative moments or powerful memories that shift your day.
GRATITUDE, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONGI once heard someone say that our biggest problem or frustration in daily life would be someone else’s dream luxury. Many times, we forget what we have and never take time to appreciate it. Gratitude is the practice of consciously appreciating what we have – the people around us, our bodies, our mindset and so much more. The power of gratitude comes in not only being grateful for what we consider “good” things in life but also those that challenge us. Simply write down a few things you’re grateful for – maybe it’s 5 things a day. When you’re truly appreciative of what you have, you receive more and feel more fulfilled even through difficult circumstances. These days, we all want to be more, do more, have more – and that’s great, but slowing down and showing appreciation is one of life’s truly essential practices. Leo Babuta of Zen Habits tells a great story of a time in his life where everything seemed to go wrong but he was able to create a gratitude list and completely shift his perspective.
FOCUS ON YOUR ONE THINGAt this time of your morning routine, it’s time to focus on your one thing. Your one thing could look like absolutely anything but it relates to a goal or target you have in life. The key is to really hone down and pick something – as Gary Keller, author of The One Thing says, “extraordinary results are directly determined by how narrow you can make your focus.” Maybe you’re looking to launch your own business…so your one thing is simply one action step to move forward. Maybe you’ve re-committed to eating and being healthy and your one thing is a practice having to do with that goal. Maybe you’ve decided to start a blog, write a book or create something…this is the time to work on it. If you haven’t figured out your one thing, that’s okay…make that your focus.
MOTION CREATES EMOTION!Our emotional states fluctuate every single day, we know that. Some days we’re feeling it and some days we simply aren’t – it’s part of the ebb and flow of life. However, the fastest way to change our emotional state is to change our physical state. That means hitting a workout, sprinting, lifting weights, and going for a walk in nature or yoga – anything that moves our bodies through space. This results in increased blood flow, endorphins and leads to clarity, focus, fulfillment and energy. Find a physical practice that you enjoy and look forward to and tie it back to something that is important to you.
START SIMPLE & BE CONSISTENTMorning routines are all about consistency – once they become a habit after 21-40 days you’ll wonder how you ever lived differently. Hal Elrod, author of Miracle Morning, says you can even get started with a 6-minute routine, which he outlines here. However, it’s easy to get overwhelmed which is why it’s recommended to start out with simply waking up earlier. Once you’ve mastered that, add a habit on top and then keep doing the same until you’ve stacked a bunch of powerful habits that are moving you forward with your life.