My Morning Routine
One thing that really distinguishes the most successful people, the Titans, the heroes and super achievers that we look up to, is that they all have developed a routine at the start of their day that helps them get primed up and set a good rhythm for the day. With a great morning routine, it is certain that you will become more productive and conjure up effective strategies to bring significant changes in your lives, both professional and personal.
The mind is highly fertile in the morning and it’s a very opportune time to sow the seeds of positivity and knowledge. As your conscious mind is quiet and your subconscious mind is more receptive in the mornings, it’s a great time to focus on personal development and let your Wiser Self answer the questions that you have been asking all along.
The main essence of creating a morning routine is to start building up momentum so that we are dialed in with the right thoughts and emotions that uplift us and guide us towards achieving success and fulfillment. As it has been talked numerous times in personal development, there are specific strategies, tactics, and habits that we can do every morning to set us up for the entire day. I have stuck to a morning routine for a couple of years now and it’s an important component of my lifestyle now. I keep tweaking it, reshuffling activities and experimenting with new things. The morning routine that I’m sharing with you here below is the most current one that I’m following presently. So, without further ado, here we go:
- Waking up (naturally if possible)
I’m working on becoming an early riser and for now I’m waking up at or before 5.45 am every morning. I’m slowly shifting my wake up time and my goal is to wake up at around 4 am. As I’m still working on the habit of waking up early and changing my habit of being a compulsive night owl, I’m setting up alarms so that I wake up on time. In between, I have experimented with waking up naturally as opposed to an alarm, and I realized that waking up naturally is the best way to start your day. When you wake up because of an alarm, no matter how soothing the sound maybe, there is still a tiny bit of surprise and urgency as you wake up. This has the potential to trigger some negative emotions right off the bat especially if we have been experiencing negative thoughts before sleeping.
I set up two alarms, one on Alexa, and another for a later time on my smartphone. If I wake up early before the alarm rings, I call out to Alexa and ask her the time. If it’s close to my wake up time, I wake up naturally. As my body clock will adapt and adjust and the habit is established, I’m aiming to wake up early without any alarms every day.
- Goodness and gratitude
After waking up, whether I wake up naturally or with an alarm, I say the words ‘Thank You’ and smile, accepting and expecting all the good things in my life. I start thinking of all the great events that have happened in my life and the good things that I experience on a day-to-day basis and being grateful for them. I’m also grateful that I’ve been given the gift of another day to learn more, love more and allow the incredible things life and this amazing world has to offer. I also thinking about a particular person or a bunch of people and send them love. This is similar to the ‘mental love letter’ exercise that Steve Jobs practiced every morning and I learned about this in the book ‘The Compound Effect’ by Darren Hardy. This simple exercise starts a series of thoughts that make me feel good and floods me with optimism and a great sense of gratitude. Gathering this momentum with regard to positive emotions and thoughts, also gets me mentally prepared for any challenges or difficulties that may come my way. I know obstacles are there for a reason and they will eventually guide me towards personal growth and expansion. I recalibrate to my default thought pattern that “Things are not happening to me, they are happening for me, and every thing happens for a good reason. The Source energy and the infinite intelligence within me has my back.”
- Touching the ground
Now that I have woken up, smiling and feeling great, I get off my bed with excitement and enthusiasm. I walk across my apartment (I live in a studio apartment so my living room and bedroom are one!) to the smartphone that I had set up far from my sleeping haven the previous night. Before I reach for my smartphone to switch off the second alarm on the Sleep Cycle app, I start jumping a few times. This signals my body to wake from the sleepy state and get pumped up. I started this as an experiment initially (I learned this from the mini-trampoline exercise that Tony Robbins does every morning and before entering on the stage in his events) and I really liked doing it and ended up adding it to my routine. (I may end up buying a mini-trampoline in future!) After jumping a few times, I do two to three quick body stretches. Once I’m done, I reach to my smartphone and switch off my second alarm.
I open the window blinds so the rays of the early morning sun brighten up my apartment naturally as it rises. Once I’m done with this quick routine, I head to the bathroom.
- Freshening up
I start playing something on my smartphone that is inspirational and uplifts my mood and energy. As I listen to it, I start brushing my teeth, I sprinkle cold water in my eyes and wash my face. This helps me in waking up from any residual sleepiness and feeling fresh. I use the bathroom and hop in for a quick cold shower. I started doing these cold showers a long time back as a challenge for myself to build tolerance and for becoming mentally strong. After a while, I started enjoying these showers and have stuck to them, especially after knowing that both Tony Robbins (he jumps into a cold plunge pool!) and Tim Ferriss also do this. Once I’m done, I get dressed up in my home clothes and get back to my bedroom.
- Making my bed and tidying up
I’m a highly organized person (I confess OCD sometimes!) and something that I really like to do first in the morning is to make my bed. I feel amazing and I get a great sense of accomplishment once I’m done with it. (In the background I keep listening to some inspirational audio or video on YouTube). Once my bed is ready, I do some basic tidying up and make sure things are organized and kept in their respective places. I learned this from the book ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying it Up’ by Marie Kondo, where in she says that every object has its own home. This made sense to me and I’ve realized over time that having a designated space for a particular thing saves time and mental energy in opposition of experiencing angst when I’m not able to find something and don’t have much time on my hand. Being organized has its priceless perks!
- Creating a great ambience
Once I’m happy with tidying up my apartment and everything looks great and in place, I work on making the environment for me as relaxing and comfortable for me. Waking up early can be mentally and emotionally draining sometimes especially when you’re new to forming this habit. Hence, setting the environment to create a better mood works in my favor. I light a tealight candle as it makes me feel good and gives me a comfortable feeling of hygga. If you like, you can either play some soft music in the background, light an incense stick or use an essential oil that relaxes you.
Once my environment and ambience are relaxing and calm, I go to my desk and write in my journal. I empty all my thoughts, worries, anxieties or questions in my journal. This proves to be very useful as you live our daily lives and avoids the bottling up of any negative emotions. Another great advantage of journaling first thing in the morning is that gives my subconscious mind, that has been working the entire night to help me seek solutions to the most dire problems and questions that I’m currently facing, an opportunity to provide me with any answers or a nugget of wisdom that I’ve been looking for.
- Pranayama and Meditation
I roll out my Yoga mat, place my meditation pillow and take a timer and book along with my smartphone. I do Pranayama (a set of breathing exercises) for a few minutes. These are very beneficial as they activate various systems of the body and help in maintaining optimum health and vitality of the body. After that, I read a meditation (for that respective day) from The Daily Stoic. As Tim Ferriss rightly said, Stoicism can be a great operating system to function on and I make sure I have my daily dose of Stoic wisdom. Once I’m done, I meditate for 15 to 20 minutes using Headspace (previously I have used some YouTube videos and Calm app for meditation as well). After I’m done with my meditation, if I get an insight on something or a great idea, I jot it down in my journal.
Side Note: If you are starting out with meditation practice, I highly recommend Headspace; it’s a great app to build the mindfulness habit, as it encourages you to do it for a brief time (10–20 minutes) every day.
- Affirmations and Visualization
Once I’m done meditating, I read and speak my affirmations aloud, trying to engage my emotions as I read them. After that, I like to do a small session of visualization where I visualize what I would like to manifest in my life and simply enjoying the experience. If there’s something important planned for the day, I visualize that all things are going to happen smoothly and the way I want them to. Visualization is a great exercise that helps you be in sync with your desires and in feeling the emotions of contentment and fulfillment. Also, it helps you detach from being overwhelmed by the weight of expected results and the anxiousness that comes with it when you do your actions. As I mentioned above, engaging emotions is very important as that changes our vibrational frequency so that we are in touch with the abundance around us and the success that we know we deserve. Once you’ve visualized, rest assured and have faith that the physical manifestation of your desire is inevitable.
- Water and Coffee
Once I’m done with the ‘mental nourishment’ phase, I go to the kitchen and drink some water with freshly squeezed lemon juice and around half a liter of water. I start my coffee maker and while the coffee is brewing, I water my plants. I step outside my apartment and walk for a couple of minutes while soaking in the morning sun. Once I’m done with that, I read the daily meditation from ‘The Language of Letting Go’. By the time I finish reading the meditation, my cup of joe is ready for me, and I take the first heavenly sip that I had been looking forward to!
I go to my desk with coffee in my hand, settle in and start my writing session which lasts anywhere between 30 to 45 minutes. I’ve been doing this since last year and I’ve been pretty religious about. I do it every day and it adds an immense amount of satisfaction and fulfillment in my life. I set the timer when I sit down to write for a couple of reasons: it works well for productivity and is a variation of the Pomodoro technique; and so that I can keep a track of time spent while writing. When I’m writing, time flies and the main reason is the state of flow that I achieve. As I do it every day, the rhythm and momentum of writing every day make it easier for me to achieve this flow state; and I’m able to express my creativity and come up with ideas to write on a consistent basis. I do this so that my creative well is always full and enriched with new ideas.
- Recalibration and working on the blog
Once my writing is done, I open my email and watch the DarrenDaily episode for that day. After that, I read ‘The Notes to Inspire’ email by Simon Sinek, and Seth Godin’s blog post (both are delivered to my email inbox in the morning). I reset the inbox to zero and don’t spend any time on answering any emails unless they’re super urgent. Once I have acquired these doses of daily wisdom from the giants, I get started with a re-calibration session. I learned this from the book ‘The Compound Effect’ by Darren Hardy. During this session, I review my personal mission statement document, my yearly, quarterly, monthly and weekly goals. After this, I write the goals that I need to complete today and the three most valuable priorities for my work that have to be fulfilled. Once I’m done with that, I do a brainstorming session and work on tools and strategies that can enhance my blog and self-publishing success. That is usually followed by a high-impact activity related to either blogging/self-publishing for the next 30 minutes. If there is any other issue that needs immediate attention, I work on resolving that issue instead during this time frame.
- Fitness and Yoga
After my writing, brainstorming and blog/self-publishing related sessions, which usually last for 90 minutes in totality, are done, I stretch and get ready for the next phase. I go back to my magical yoga mat that has been patiently waiting for me to finish with my most important tasks. I engage my body in a fitness routine that includes doing one round of push-ups, squats, and sit-ups (as much as I can, my goal is to do a 100 of each). After that, I read the daily meditation from the book ‘Yoga 365’. After a bit of cooling down, I do a short session of yoga which can last anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes depending on how much time I have and how my body feels like. Once done with my fitness routine and yoga session, I roll the Yoga mat and keep it back to its home.
Once my fitness routine and yoga session is done I read a few pages of ‘Tools of Titans’ by Tim Ferriss. It’s an amazing book and every time I read it I learn something new and insightful. I highly recommend you check it out!
- Getting ready
Once I finish reading, I start dressing up if it’s a weekday, playing uplifting music in the morning. I have a couple of tracks that I listen to every day and this is a ritual that helps me get energized and gets me into the right frame of mind. Listening to music that is inspirational and you enjoy is an excellent way to get in the right mindset and continue experiencing positive emotions. The key is momentum as once the ball gets rolling, you’re charged and ready to take on your day. If it’s a Saturday or Sunday, then continue with the tasks and errands that need to be done for the day. I take Sundays off so once I’m done with this morning routine I take it easy and go with the flow.
So that’s my morning routine and I hope it inspires you and gives you a framework on which you can build your own morning routine. Everyone is unique and I’m sure you may have a different perspective on how you would like to establish your own routine. Feel free to switch the order of activities based on what suits you best. As I mentioned above, I keep experimenting with new tools and strategies that I learn, my morning routine keeps changing and evolving. This is a snapshot of my morning routine at present. I would suggest you be always willing to experiment as well and try new things that you think may help you get in a better mindset, make you more productive and get you closer to the expression of your inner genius. If you are inspired and would like to start your own morning routine, the best time is now. Let’s get the ball rolling!
Read this essay on my blog: The Karma Yogi Lifestyle; originally published on August 21, 2017.