What is it that you do first thing in the morning? Hit the snooze button? Do you check your phone, scroll down Facebook, check whats-app or read email? Do you watch the news, feed the fish, or have a stare-off with the ceiling?
Whatever you do in the morning though, it matters.
Call it a morning ritual, habit, custom, or routine – if used properly- the right actions practiced with consistency could have a major impact on your life. After all, scientific research has shown that a morning routine has the ability to increase happiness, reduce procrastination, boost confidence, and improve overall performance.
No matter where you are in life, there are always improvements to be made, problems to be solved and things to be fixed. A personalized morning routine can be a very effective tool for taking on the obligations of the day more efficiently and smoothly. It can make life easier.
How so? Let me break it down for you.
Find your Reason for Getting up
First things first: You need a reason for doing a morning routine. If you want to get to the potential benefits that I just mentioned, it is essential to connect the specific morning habits to your long term goals.
Of course, everyone has long term goals, but they are often vague and not clearly articulated. Therefore, it’s often hard to define the concrete steps that are needed to actually reach the finish line. Carefully calibrating your aim on something will help you stay motivated in following through with the routine every morning. Otherwise, after a while, you’ll ask yourself “Why am I doing this again?”.
So set your goal. Some aspects of your life that you want to improve. This could be losing weight, being more productive, improving your relationships, or eating healthier – just make sure it’s something that makes YOU tick, and keeps your eyes on the prize while doing the routine.
Clarifying your goal will create a sense of purpose that will be the fuel that powers your morning engine. And instead of starting as an old Chevy Diesel, you’ll reach tesla-like performance – instant access to all the power you need for an optimal start of your day!
It Creates a Sense of Control
“People who construct their goals in concrete terms are 50% more likely to feel confident they will attain their goals and 32% more likely to feel in control of their lives.”Howatt 1999
So, a morning routine will not only bring you closer to your (concrete) goals, it also creates a sense of control. Moreover, studies done by Chou and Chi (2001) and Icek Ajzen (2006) showed that people with a sense of control were significantly more likely to feel happy and/or satisfied during the day.
This even works on the neuroscientific level:
“Making decisions, creating intentions and setting goals to engage the prefrontal cortex in a positive way, reducing worry and anxiety. It also helps overcome striatum activity, which usually pulls you toward negative impulses and routines. Finally, goal setting changes your perception of the world – finding solutions to your problems and calming the limbic systemAlex Korb
So, your brain chills out when you’ve set your goals and decided on the actions that will take you there beforehand. But why do that specifically in the morning then?
Our Mood In The Morning Determines Our Mood During The Day
It turns out that however we feel in the morning has a huge impact on how to feel during the rest of our day.
A study done by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that customer service employees tended to rate costumers more positively, and felt more positively themselves during the day when they started their morning in a good mood. So, the early mood was linked to their perceptions of both their customers and themselves as the day progressed.
An interesting side effect for the managers was that this positive mood increased the employees’ overall performance. They both got more work done and did a better job.
The Miracle Morning
“How you wake up each day and your morning routine (or lack thereof) dramatically affects your levels of succes in every single area of your life. Focused, productive, successful mornings generate focused, productive successful days – which inevitably create a successful life – in the same way that unfocused, unproductive, and mediocre mornings generate unfocused, unproductive and mediocre days, and ultimately a mediocre quality of life. By simply changing the way you wake up in the morning, you can transform any area of your life, faster than you every thought possible”– Hal Elrod
Now, this might sound a little overboard, but his relentless enthusiasm about a morning routine is not so surprising when you learn about his background story, and how he changed his life with his “Miracle Morning”. He went from being deeply depressed and financially bankrupt, to transform himself into an ultra-marathon runner, successful businessman, international keynote speaker, and best-selling author.
Moreover, he has changed tens of thousands of lives for the better by teaching people his morning habits, and how they can be used to reach incredible fast results – whether that be already successful businessmen, housewives, plumbers, students or top athletes.
Hal’s morning equation consists of six variables: Silence, Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading and Scribing – together forming the acronym: SAVERS. He has based these habits on analyzing the advice and routines of top productivity experts and elements that the most successful people in the world include in their morning.
You can watch this video for a more detailed explanation of the six miracle morning components.
A Personalized Morning Routine
Of course, there’s no perfect equation for everyone. I merely mention Hal’s method so it could provide you with some inspiration. In the end, it all comes down to intentionally setting a personalized goal, and taking the small steps each morning that lead to compounding results over time. You can experiment with different things and observe what works best for you. Try a variety of morning habits, have some patience, and see whether it brings you closer to your goals.
Personally, I’ve built the following stack of morning habits:
- 10 minutes of meditation – to reduce potential stress levels and start the day with a peace of mind
- 15 minutes of running – to get the blood flowing and stay fit
- A cold shower – to fully activate my body and mind, and benefit from the long term health benefits
- Journaling – to reflect and look ahead, creating more perspective and clarify my goals
- Read – to learn something new and see where I can apply the new knowledge into my life
- Drink Coffee – “Duh”
Of course, I also have my off days. Sometimes I skip two or three when I went out late with friends, and I don’t follow most of the routines when I’m on vacation. It’s not about perfection, it’s about building the right system for yourself that leads to incremental improvement. Really, don’t punish yourself for misfiring every once in a while. That’s called being human. Some mornings, life just gets in the way.
Building these systems is a tricky process though, and many people are unaware that it requires a certain strategy to really make them stick for the long term. Building a sustainable habit is not something you tackle by means of exercising willpower, but by intelligently building the right neurological systems in your brain (Read more on that in my blog post “How To Make Habits Actually Stick”).
6 months ago, I would not have had the discipline to keep this stack of habits going for more than 3 days. Instead, I started small – with 1 habit – and stayed consistent. Then slowly expanded its size, and eventually grew to the number of new habits I have now – the stack I do every morning.
The power of a morning routine is something that must not be underestimated. It will create a sense of control in your life, improve your mood during the rest of your day, and may even help you perform better at your job!
So, the question is: What will be YOUR miracle morning?
Try different habits, and see what works for you. Stay consistent, and watch yourself progress over time.
You”ll thank yourself later.
Thanks for reading!