“If you don’t prioritize and maximize your morning hours, you’ll always be left wondering what your life could have been.” -Benjamin P. Hardy
For years, I have been experimenting with various morning routines in an addictive attempt to get the most out of my days and life.
There were times where I would get up at 3am, 5am, and even days where I wouldn’t worry about the time and simply embody the words of Hal Elrod:
“More important than the time that you start your day is the mindset with which you start your day.”
Although no matter what time or the purpose of my morning routine, I’ve always found there are certain principles and actions that can make any day better. Here they are:
1. Plan Your Day Before Going to Bed
Jim Rohn once said, “Never begin the day until it’s finished on paper.”
Similarly, Benjamin Franklin has famously said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
Of course, both are right. A life-changing morning routine isn’t just going to happen. Instead, it must be designed and planned for.
Without beginning the day with a clear intention, I can guarantee that your day will not be successful and productive, but rather, reactive and unintentional.
So, get it all sorted the night before. Specifically, you want to start by pulling out your journal. In which you are going to do two things:
- Review what happened today
- Plan what will happen tomorrow
Upon reviewing your day, you are going to immediately start spotting two things: 1) Key themes and behaviors in your life. 2) What you could be doing better. As Thomas Monson has said,
“When performance is measured, performance improves.”
Secondly, planning the day the night before will take all of the decisions out of your morning.
Rather than having to exert willpower to act in the ways you know you should, you’ll practically be jumping out of bed in order to get moving on the new and exciting future you’ll be creating.
2. Put Your Phone On Airplane Mode
“In our current moment, smartphones have reshaped people’s experience of the world by providing an always-present connection to a humming matrix of chatter and distraction.” -Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism
In order to operate from the right state in the morning, you must first operate from the right state at night.
Of course, most of a successful morning routine is just in the setup. If you can get your evenings right, then the rest becomes so much easier.
So, I’m suggesting that you don’t want to rely on willpower to act in the ways you know you should. Instead, make a definitive decision.
Decide to put your phone on airplane mode, and then don’t look at it again until the conclusion of your morning routine.
Additionally, if you haven’t already, you may also want to move your alarm clock across the other side of the room from your bed.
This will force you to get all the way out of bed in order to turn it off, and consequently, have you engage your body in movement.
Motion creates energy, which will naturally make you feel more awake. Thus, it will be much easier to get yourself up and follow through with your morning routine.
On the contrary, if you keep your alarm clock next to your bed, you’ll still be in a partial sleep state when the alarm goes off, and thus, it will be much easier to hit snooze and not follow through with the plans you’d detailed the night before.
This will not only hurt your mornings but also your entire day, and ultimately your life. Of course, Benjamin P. Hardy has said, “How you start something is generally how you finish it.”
3. Drink a Large Glass of Water
Most people mistakenly believe that what they need in the morning is more sleep. However, more often than not, what you really need is more water.
After about six to eight hours of sleep, you become mildly dehydrated, which will cause fatigue and tiredness.
Thus, one of the first things you should do in the morning is drink a large glass of water. This will raise your energy levels and have you feeling more awake.
And now that your brain is fully alert, you’ll be ready for the next and most important action:
4. Visualization and Creation
“Whatever future may seem like a fantasy to you now is simply a future reality that you have yet to create.” -Hal Elrod
Again, in the morning, you want to pull out your journal. Of course, your phone should still be on airplane mode. You shouldn’t have checked social media nor email.
This is a time for you to be designing and living out your ideal future, rather than being sucked back into the past.
If you begin your day in a reactive state, you will simply find yourself acting and operating at the same level that you were the day before.
Hence, you must do something different. You must trigger yourself into the state of being that you intend to become and then act from that state for the remainder of your day. But how?
Really, it’s quite simple: You want to visualize and create your goals and dreams within the pages of your journal, and then tie those dreams to deep emotions. For a start, I recommend answering three questions:
- What are my goals and dreams?
- What am I doing today to make those dreams my reality?
- What other ideas are on my mind?
When answering these questions, you want to do so with feeling. You want to truly imagine and experience what it would feel like to have and live the life that you want.
You want to write these answers in vivid detail and create specific deadlines for when your goals will be achieved.
This will transform the goals and ideas in your head from just that to an emotional experience — the more emotionally-charged you can make your future vision, the more you’ll be driven to achieve it.
Hence, the next step in your morning routine is to actually move towards it.
Of course, Mark Twain has famously said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
“Eating the frog” in essence means you put first things first. You know that “someday” is not a day. So you do things today.
You don’t delay and procrastinate leading to internal conflict and regret. Rather, you take control of your day and do your most important work immediately upon waking up.
You know that if you don’t do your most important work in the morning, then it’ll probably never get done. Said Professor Harold Hill,
“You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays.”
A morning routine is not prescriptive, but rather, individualistic. What matters is not so much what you do, but rather, why you do it. The Founder of Digital Press, Nicolas Cole has brilliantly said,
“You have to ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing, otherwise you don’t have a morning routine. You have a chop-shop special of different activities, none of which hold any real value or intention.”
Put most simply: Work out the purpose of your morning routine, and then work out the process. These four ideas will help get you started.