How to Create an Intentional Morning

And Why it Matters

Amanda O’Bryan, PhD
May 14 · 4 min read

Morning routines are having a moment.

Youtube is full of videos showing beautiful, relaxing mornings spent journaling, sipping coffee and leisurely getting ready for the day. They are lovely and inspiring. But is a morning routine really necessary?

This post will not give you suggestions for what you should include in your routine, but instead I will ask you WHY. Why have a morning routine? What’s the purpose?

If you are like me and you have struggled for a long time against routine, this may help. Anytime I find myself struggling to accomplish something, it can often be because I’m overanalyzing. Knowing WHY I am doing something is a valuable tool to combat the spiral of overthinking.

So to begin, I’ll tell you a secret:

You already have a routine!

Even if you think you don’t, you do. Your routine may just be sleeping late, rushing out the door, and eating in the car. You may not like your routine, but you do have one. The question is not do you want to have a routine, the question is, do you want to have a more intentional routine?

In order to have a more intentional routine, finding the reason for your routine is critical.

Take some time to write down the answer to this question: What do you want your routine to do for you? This is a really personal question, so that’s why it’s so important that you not just adopt someone else’s routine. For example, if your answer is that you just want a routine that helps you stay more organized, spending a leisurely hour doing deep breathing exercising and making green juice isn’t going to do it. And if your answer is that you want to start the day on a more peaceful note, cramming a million self-care tasks into a routine is a surefire recipe for disaster.

When I got clear on the answer to this question, the routine became clear too. For me, I want to start my day getting in touch with my intuition, my higher self, and my creativity. I want to start my day off from a place of peace, gratitude and purpose. My routine should help me get centered. I’m a meditation teacher, so in order for me to do the best work I possibly can, I need to start my day off feeling connected to my practice. It took me getting really clear on these reasons for my routine to suddenly become easy. Now, rather than ticking boxes on a list, or having a claustrophobic schedule (6am water with lemon, make coffee, journal for 10 minutes, meditate, exercise, breakfast etc…) I’ve instead created a short list of practices that I know support my intention and I can choose which ones I do based on how I am feeling that morning.

For example, the other morning, I woke up feeling glum, it was raining outside, and I didn’t feel particularly motivated. I knew that I would need to shift my energy up. Rather than forcing myself to do something, I honored where I was and curled up with a cup of tea and a spiritual text, one chosen specifically because it was upbeat and inspiring. Within 15 minutes, I had suddenly come up with a new idea for class, and was writing away. I followed that momentum to do some gentle yoga and completed my morning routine feeling peaceful, purposeful and inspired.

On another day I woke up full of energy and couldn’t sit still. I used that energy to spend some time cleaning my space, did a HIIT workout, showered and walked to the coffee shop to do my work. I had already woken up purposeful and inspired, so I just rode that wave to an even higher place.

Having an intentional list of practices rather than a strict scheduled routine, has really helped me. I have four non-negotiables, four things that I know I want to do before I shower and get ready for work: read, journal, meditate, and exercise. I also know that I don’t want to get on any kind of screen until I’ve done these things. Most mornings, I will strive to do some version of all four. But before I start, I check in with myself to see what I am needing that morning. For example, if I am feeling especially upset or disorganized, I may spend the entire hour journaling. Or, if on the rare occasion I wake up fully energized like I did today, I may only exercise, meditate and then get going, following my energy where it takes me!

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Amanda O’Bryan, PhD

Written by

Embracing the mess that is my inner world. Meditation Teacher, Psychologist, spiritual life coach

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +525K people. Follow to join our community.