The Morning Routine That Will Make Your Day A Success
At the time I developed a morning routine I was in a state of deep depression. After being let go from a part-time office job, I had no other employment prospects and fell into a place of internal despair. Quickly my habits changed as I lost any desire to maintain some form of schedule or structure.
I began waking up far later than usual, often groggy and impatient with the world. I went to bed much later because — at the time — I told myself I had nothing worth waking up for. My diet changed rapidly as I began to eat less, and when I did the food rarely nourished my soul. And this destructive patterns went on for about 3 weeks before I couldn’t take it any more.
Then one Sunday night I decided to break this damaging stretch by attending a group meditation in an effort to get back in touch with myself. I left the meditation feeling refreshed and internally vibrant. In an effort to keep this wave of positive emotion flowing, I went to bed as soon as I returned home, and woke up before the sun the very next day. I was ready for a change.
I started the morning with a run, as this was something that I was sure always made me feel good — runner’s high is a very real thing. While on that run I listened to a podcast with prominent host Jordan Harbinger who happened to be interviewing the legendary brain trainer Jim Kwik (the episode is worth a listen).
To summarize the episode in brief, Kwik detailed his morning routine and the general importance of creating one. In doing so we form standard habits that ensure each day is a success from the moment we crawl out of bed. Feeling inspired, I returned home from the run and decided to make a morning routine of my own — something that would ensure my day was a success from the moment it began.
Now granted, I did steal some of these steps from Kwik, but others are purely my own. I do my damned best to ensure each of these steps are performed every single morning with no exceptions. After they have all been completed I can mark my day a success in only the first 2 hours of being awake.
This is my miracle morning.
Step 1: When you wake up, don’t check your phone for “likes”, “follows”, breaking news, etc. Only respond to a message or call if it is an emergency.
We all have a personal relationship with our phones. Often times this is simply because we need them to get through the day, but what about the other times as we peruse Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, and more? It’s during these moments that our brain is firing rapidly, looking for a reason to provide us with a rush of endorphins. What starts as checking your calendar quickly turns into a half hour stint of searching through the Wendy’s Twitter feed (I’ll admit it’s highly entertaining).
This quest for immediate gratification has to be silenced. You can’t start the day looking for fulfillment on a small 5 inch screen. So the first rule is rather simple — don’t look at your phone.
Step 2: Make the bed
Some of you are going to roll your eyes at this one, but it’s simple (so stop complaining). Your bed is the place you retreat to every night as you rest and energize yourself for another day. It is a sacred space as we often feel uncomfortable when we’re sleeping in someone else’s bed — be it a hotel bed or your that lumpy one at your aunt’s house. By making the bed each morning, you’re treating that space with respect and setting a precedent for the rest of the day. All it takes is a quick throw of the sheets and you’re done. Make the bed.
Step 3: Meditate
I could go into the science and literature surrounding the benefits of meditation, but I’ll let you discover those on your own. In short, meditating each morning gives you an opportunity to assess yourself while distancing your mind from reality. Take time to understand the ins-and-outs of meditation if you haven’t practiced before. While it is relatively simple in nature, the process takes time to develop inside you. And if you’re reading this while noting that you already meditate, then meditate more. There is always room for growth in this regard, and it pays to start your day by knowing you.
Step 4: Eat a healthy breakfast
One of the biggest actions I took to relieve myself of that depressed state was a reassessment of my diet. While I wasn’t going so far as to eat Ring Dings and Frito’s all day, my consumption consisted largely of carbs with little in the way of greens or other precious nutrients.
By reevaluating my morning eats, I found that a good tasting breakfast that was also good for me just made me feel GOOD. If you’re starting the morning with a bowl of sugared cereal or a carb-dense bagel, find alternatives. (My daily breakfast now consists of toasted multi-grain bread topped with peanut butter, a sliced banana, honey, and granola — trust me, it’s a winner).
Step 5: Run
Now for those out there that don’t enjoy running, I get it. It’s arduous and painful and even the concept of sweating is a turnoff to some. I love it and encourage it entirely, but many don’t feel the same way. So no, you don’t have to run.
BUT you should find a way to physically exert yourself and simply prepare your body for the day. Be it a yoga routine, HIIT exercise, or even a walk down the block — make a serious bout of exercise part of your morning routine.
Step 6: Journal
This step relates largely to meditation as it lends you time to relax and reflect. When we journal we give ourselves an opportunity to remove thoughts from our mind and put them on paper. I like to think that by writing something down, I’ve taken it out of my head where it can no longer bother me. And I always choose to journal after exercise, when my brain feels most active as well.
For some, journaling is already a routine, and I commend you for that. And for others, it simply doesn’t seem worth it. If you don’t feel inclined to journal, then simply set aside ten minutes to write. Buy a pen and notebook that feel good to the touch and make you happy to hold. If you’re more inclined to use a computer, open a Word doc or utilize notebook software such as Evernote. No matter what you do, put something on paper.
Step 7: Drink Water
This one should be far higher on the list, but I’ll let you dictate when it should occur. Your body spends anywhere from 5–8 hours (or more, or less, depending on your sleep schedule) without liquids. As a result you wake with a lack of fluids, and deserve an opportunity to replenish them. By keeping a canteen at the foot of my bed, it takes me only a moment to wake up, unscrew the top, and gulp down a healthy amount of fluids to start the day.
If you begin to pay attention to your fluid intake as a whole, drinking even when you’re not parched, you may soon find yourself feeling a lot healthier. The benefits of remaining hydrated can’t be over-saturated (sorry), so give your body the water it craves when you wake in the morning.
Step 8: Read
We’ve been taught the benefits of reading since pre-K, so I won’t go into the details surrounding why you should read. But for those that feel less inclined to do so, it really only takes a good book to change your frame of mind. And if you feel so stubborn as to conclude that there are no books out there for you (a little shame on you for coming to this conclusion), then subscribe to a magazine that can pull your attention to its pages. Set a goal to read for at least 15 minutes, and see where that takes you.
Step 9: Eat a healthy post exercise snack
This goes right back to the idea of treating your body well. I like to give myself some time after a run to decompress, and often do so with reading and writing. After completing those steps, I provide myself with a post exercise snack that again is healthy, and just feels good. Try to find something with a higher protein content if possible, and be sure to eat this snack whenever it feels right for you.
Step 10: Plan out the rest of your day
So your morning has been a success, and you’re on the final step. I like to think it would be nice to keep this trend of success going, and therefore advise you to plan out the rest of your day in brief. For me this simply encompasses ensuring I’m aware of my schedule, and knowing what needs to get done. When I’ve got a day that seems to be in order, I feel in order.
Creating a morning routine may seem daunting, but it is vital. As human beings we often long for patterns that give us an opportunity to understand and interpret our worlds. By forming this routine you can guarantee how your morning will play out, regardless of what happens the rest of the day.
My morning routine takes anywhere from 1–2 hours, but don’t expect yours will be the same. Perhaps step 3 on your routine will involve taking a steaming shower while singing Weird Al at the top of your lungs. Regardless of what you choose to do, the idea is the same: do it until it becomes ingrained and habitual.
While I can’t say with confidence that each of my mornings involves a run or meditation, I know it is also part of the human condition to slip out of routine in favor of something else. But if you write this routine down and wake to it each morning, I know you can make it a part of your daily life.
And I know it can help you find internal success.