Disciplined execution — it all starts with the right morning routine.
As someone with a very low attention span and a propensity for chasing the shiny object, I’m grateful that I realised a long time ago that what I needed in my life was more structure and discipline and my morning routine is where it all begins for me.
I’ve evolved my morning routine over a number of years through countless books, conversations and articles and it now forms a critical part of my life and is a major asset in my pursuit of creating behaviours and habits that serve me in my life. I believe that goals come and go but the behaviours and habits that get us there are the things that really matter.
I have found that if I can be disciplined, mindful and focussed in the first hour of my day, the rest of the day kind of takes care of itself.
Invest this time in yourself and you will experience positive change.
The night before.
A meaningful morning routine requires time, and this starts with the conscious decision to choose good habits over bad ones. To me, it looks like this:
- Going to bed at 9pm, with no screen time for at least 30 minutes before sleep time.
- Leaving my phone in another room. I have an alarm clock to wake me at 5am so I just don’t need it and I can do without the temptation to use it.
- Reflecting on my intentions and actions for that day. (this will make more sense further down the article).
Wake up at 5am.
Not much more to say about this — make the commitment, do it and thank yourself for it!
Make the bed.
The first few minutes are absolutely critical in my routine, if I get this right the rest falls easily into place. For me, the very first thing that I do is to make my bed. This is a small achievement, but as the first experience of my day it sets me up for a positive and productive mindset for the day. Don’t underestimate this importance of this little action.
By this time, if you are anything like me, your mind is already beginning to run away from you with your to do’s, appointments, commitments, problems etc and thats why it is so important to slow this all down with a meditation. I use the calm app for really effective, relatable guided meditations that are usually around 10 mins long.
Exercise and positivity power combo.
Now that I am awake and my mind is a little less cluttered, I like to do my morning exercise. This can be different for everyone and I don’t always do the same thing but most mornings I will include at least 2 of the following:
- 150 pushups (varying hand position)
- 100 Arm curls (15k)
- 15–30 mins of basic yoga sequences and/or my pilates exercises (I have some back issues)
- 45–90 minutes of high intensity cycling
- 20–40 minutes of lap swimming
What is key here is that while I am doing these exercises I listen to positive content. I used to listen to music or audio books but I have found that consuming positive content really gives me the energy and positive mindset that I need to carry into the day. There are countless sources out there but here are some go to sources that work for me:
Throughout my workout I will drink around 1 litre of water.
I’m sure you have all read plenty about the benefits of the mindful practice of gratitude so I wont repeat it all, I’ll just say that it really does work so try it.
I simply spend 5 minutes writing down all the experiences, behaviours, habits, people, abilities, objects and relationships that I am grateful for.
By this stage I am feeling energised, focused, physically strong and ready for my day.
I walk to my whiteboard and begin to write my intentions for the day. Here is what this might look like for me:
Be 100% present with my daughter for at least 1 hour today. (Family / spirit)
Eat mindfully (body/spirit)
Choose opportunity over worry (spirit)
Listen more (relationships / mind)
Choose value over being right (spirit)
Knock off 15 to do items (Work / financial)
Spend 1 hour on learning (mind)
Spend 1 hour on preparation for ‘x’ ( business/financial )
Connect mindfully with someone (relationships/ spirit)
Spend 2 hours in uninterrupted work (spirit / mind / business)
250 pushups (body/spirit)
10 minutes of stretching (body/spirit)
Meditate at least twice (spirit)
Intermittent fasting (body/spirit)
Be deliberate in my actions (spirit/mind)
I make sure that my intentions for the day are balanced and not just focussed on a single area of importance in my life. For a long time, this list would have been pretty much dominated by the ‘business/financial’ category and that wasn’t healthy. The interesting thing is that when I started to include the other areas in my life in my daily intentions and deliberate actions, my effectiveness in ‘business/financial’ category actually improved.
By this stage I already feel like I have accomplished a lot and that the day is off to a powerful, deliberate and positive start. I hop into the shower and once I’m just about ready to get out, I switch off the hot water and have an ice cold shower for around 20 seconds while focusing on deep breathing and calm (don’t tense up and fight it). Every single time I do this I am grateful to myself for having the discipline and the post cold shower feeling never gets old. Check out the Wim Hof method for more on the benefits of cold immersions.
I’m about to begin experimenting with intermittent fasting so this part will fall away soon, but in its current state, my routine includes 3 boiled eggs, 1 smashed avocado and 1 slice of seed toast.
Of course I fail from time to time but most of this has now become complete habit and is now part of who I am and there is no question in my mind that I am better for it.
This isn’t always easy and it requires discipline and sacrifice…but then, I cant think of anything that’s worthwhile that doesn’t…
The question I would like to leave you with is “what else are you doing with your morning time that is more important than investing in your health, focus and wellbeing”?