Over time, these habits can improve your quality of life
For a long time, I thought about establishing a morning routine.
I wanted to and had been reading about the benefits of doing so for quite a while, but I didn’t know what to do. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon Hal Elrod’s book, The Miracle Morning, that I finally got some ideas for exactly what kinds of practices I could include in my routine.
Elrod uses the acronym ‘SAVERS’ for the routine he developed: silence, affirmations, visualization, exercise, reading, and scribing (writing). He recommends doing each of the six practices for 10 minutes every day, totaling a one-hour routine. He also recommends doing them first thing in the morning, as soon as you wake up.
On his blog, entrepreneur James Altucher wrote, “I like his routine because it fits perfectly into what I call ‘The daily practice’ of choosing yourself: striving to improve every day 1% across physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health.”So that’s what I did. I committed to choosing myself.
Since I wasn’t sure where to start or what I was doing, I initially followed Elrod’s advice, took his prompts and used his templates, just so I could finally get started.
Becoming a morning person
Since that time, I’ve experimented a lot with my morning routine, finding what works best for me and what I enjoy most. I’ve added, removed, or altered some of the components to better suit me, and I’ve finally come up with something I love.
My overall goal with starting a morning routine was always to make me feel better and enjoy life more. I wanted to actually be excited about my day. I wanted to look forward to waking up each day, and to go about my day with more passion and energy.
I was tired of dragging myself through my life, feeling tired, lazy, and uninspired.
I wanted more — and this desire for more is what started my search for how to become happier and get more out of life.
My six morning practices
Below are six short practices I now do daily. I do them in the following order, as well, because this is the way that makes the most sense to me, and seems to flow the best. It took some trial and error to figure this out, and it’s okay if you have a similar experience. What’s important is that you find a way to give to yourself each day. Choose yourself.
These are the ways I choose myself:
Begin with clarifying, in writing, what you really want — your ideal vision for yourself and your life. — Hal Elrod
I created affirmations for my life and my work by thinking about the life I want to live, the person I want to become, and the kind of lifestyle I want to lead. I start my routine by reading aloud to myself about my ideal life.
When I read them, I feel powerful, and I get excited about where they are taking me and how they are changing me into the person I want to become. It’s almost like I can literally feel them rewriting my current thoughts and rewiring my brain into a space of positivity and potential.
There is also a lot of research out there about the science behind affirmations and the process that goes on in your brain, but the feeling they give me is enough proof for me.
When you visualize daily, you align your thoughts and actions with your vision. — Hal Elrod
A while back, my partner and I created a vision board. Every time I look at the pictures on that board, it gets me excited about life and the future we’re creating. It reminds me of where I’m going, and what’s possible. Noticing my own positive feelings about it brings me massive amounts of energy.
It’s a practice I use each morning to motivate myself to take action on the things I need to take action on in order to make these dreams a reality. How am I going to get there? What steps do I need to take today that will get me closer to achieving this vision for my future?
Just keep in mind that nothing replaces action. Staring at pictures that represent your ideal life will no doubt make you feel good, but that alone won’t turn those pictures into reality.
I’ve always loved reading for the simple reason that I love learning. I also get tons of writing ideas from reading.
Even just spending 10 minutes reading a few pages of whatever book I’m currently immersed in is usually enough time to learn something new, to be inspired or motivated in some way, or to come up with at least one idea for a story.
Reading, for me, is all about life. There is so much to be learned and discovered in this world, and books are one of the greatest methods of imparting information. I love hearing the stories of others and soaking up the lessons they’ve learned through experience, as many of them can also be applied to my life.
I’m always on the lookout for little golden nuggets of insight or quotes that make me re-think something or inspire me to live differently.
I spend 10 minutes every morning simply thinking. I set a timer, have a notebook ready, and just see what comes to me.
It’s freedom. It’s not about discerning which ideas are good and which are bad, or coming up with a certain number of ideas; it’s just about using the imagination muscle.
Of course, that perfectionist instinct comes in sometimes, dictating which ideas are “worth” writing down and which aren’t, but I’m trying to learn to ignore it. I’m starting to realize that I can’t actually know which ideas will resonate with readers and which won’t.
So the best thing to do is write them all down — regardless of whether it’s an article idea, a quote, song lyrics, a business idea, or something somebody said to me yesterday that’s running through my mind now.
It’s all usable material, in one way or another. If not right away — then likely later on.
The essence of meditation is simply silencing or focusing the mind for a period of time. — Hal Elrod
I’ve recently started using the Calm app to do a guided meditation each morning, and it clears my head and settles my soul. All it takes is a few minutes, sitting in silence and soaking up the quiet stillness of the early morning to realize how peaceful and simple life can be.
No matter how I’m feeling when I sit down to meditate, I always end up feeling more at peace, more relaxed, less stressed, and more centred when I finish, just 10 minutes later.
The benefits of meditation have been widely documented, and my own experience of different types of meditation over the last few years is enough to confirm this for myself.
There is nothing better than doing some light stretches in the morning to wake me up and get my body moving after a night’s sleep.
Stretching and breathing are actually quite relaxing! I use them as a direct path to becoming connected with myself, as well as present in the moment and grounded. When I shift my attention towards the physical sensations I’m feeling when I stretch, the rest of the world drops away.
For those few minutes, my body becomes the most important thing in the world; the only thing that exists. I can give it all of my focus, and any outside stresses are eliminated in those moments.
As Elrod says of yoga:
It’s such a complete form of exercise, as it combines stretching with strength training with cardio with focused breathing, and can even be a form of meditation.
And that’s why I love it.
Living in possibility
These things give me energy, lift me up, and set a tone for my day of joy and possibility and potential. That’s why I do them. I do them to feed myself, to nourish myself.
I get up early because I feel better when I do.
When I’ve accomplished the things that matter most to me before I even leave for work or go about my day, I already feel on top of the world. It gives me purpose, passion, motivation, and inspiration to take care of my inner world.
Waking up early is about living my life intentionally, and doing the things that are important to me, to be at peace with myself.
If you’ve been on the fence about starting a morning routine, start here.