The most satisfied, motivated and accomplished people are often one in the same. Amazingly, the most successful among us follow very similar morning routines. Here are the top ten activities those who flourish do to start their day:
1. Wake up on time or early. The snooze button doesn’t work. The quality of sleep during this five or ten minute ritual does not enhance your day. In fact, it makes getting out of bed harder. And, what works even better than setting and responding to an alarm (just think about the word “alarm;” who truly likes to be “alarmed?!”) is to train your body to wake up in time to do the things below. The extra twenty minutes you give yourself to start your day right is perhaps your best use of time for the entire day.
2. Drink water. You dehydrate at night. There is no other period in your day that you go six to eight hours without drinking fluids. If you are feeling sluggish first thing in the morning it may not be from your sleep the night before, it may just be you are under-hydrated. By the way, coffee or any drink with caffeine is dehydrating. So, drink a glass of water on the rise to shine.
3. Set your mood. If you turn on the television or read the paper as part of your current morning routine, rethink this. A mantra in the news business is “if it bleeds it leads.” When was the last time that a news story about someone getting killed or maimed lifted your spirit? So, why you want to start your day by sending your mood south? Read something positive instead. A book on love. A biography of someone who is a positive role model. A magazine about something you love to do. Even a comic book. Turn off the television or news radio. Cancel your newspaper subscription. Set your mood light and right by taking five minutes to read about something good.
4. Loosen up your body. Most successful people exercise before breakfast. If you do not have a chance to get a full routine in (for now as you start implementing this list; over time it really is best to get true exercise in at the start of your day), then do something simple to get loosened up. Go for a five minute walk. Run on the treadmill for a bit. Or, just do some light stretches in your bedroom or living room for ten minutes.
5. Write down what went right. Take two minutes to open a journal or record on a smart phone or computer “notes” app three things that went right the day before. After writing these three things down, next to each item write down why each went right. You don’t need examples of why things go right in your life. In your heart you know.
6. Eat a healthy light breakfast. Let oatmeal back into your life. Crunch on some granola. Imbibe a smoothie. Savor yogurt. Taste fresh fruit. Do not eat a sugary cereal. Do not down gobs of fat. Fatty foods are harder to digest. Synthetic foods tweak your body. If you are looking for more energy in the morning put efficient fuel into your system.
7. Roadmap your day. Create a check list of items that need to be taken care of, today. Do not write a novel of a to-do list that is impossible to accomplish. This will create anxiety that serves no one—you, your colleagues, your family members, or your friends. No one benefits from your stress about what you need to get done. Be realistic as you scope and plan your day. Create a to-do list that is compartmentalized. Write down at the top of your list things you absolutely have to and know you can accomplish. Don’t mislead yourself here. When you peel back the layers of what you believe has to get done and what truly needs to get done your list shrinks and becomes manageable. In the next section write down additional things you hope to accomplish. Again, remember that you have limited hours in a day. And in the third section, write down something that you want to do that will make your heart sing. And then try to do this in the morning, if at all possible. It will energize and inspire you all the more to get the rest of the stuff on your list done.
8. Express gratitude. Sit quietly for two minutes and write down three things that you are grateful for. Putting pen to paper is the best way to honor your life as you memorialize your gratitude. Writing them down prevents you from short circuiting this process which often happens if you just think about what you are grateful for. It is impossible to be grateful and unhappy at the same time. Expressing gratitude is another mood shifter and it helps refine your goals in life as you learn to pursue things that help you be more grateful.
9. Visualize. Imagine, literally, what a great day looks like, and do it as you do something else that is part of your morning routine. What about while you are brushing your teeth? How about as you are putting on your clothes? There is no real mental effort while you are performing any of these morning habits right now, so add visualization to one or all of them. Mentally create your best day as part of another morning behavior. This enables visualization to become habit too.
10. Breathe. Just breathe. Stand in front of your door as you prepare to leave your home. Do not touch the knob until you have taken five deep breaths. Feel the air fill your lungs. Feel your mind slow down. Feel your chest and shoulders relax. Think of nothing but breathing deep. Five deep breaths before you grab the handle will give you a whole different perspective as you exit your house and enter your day.