The most effective 7-step morning routine I’ve ever had — even while traveling.

Why am I so miserable.

It wasn’t even a question…it was a statement. I bounced over to Instagram and scrolled through endless updates of people I barely knew — most, not at all. They looked like they were having so much fun...a lot more fun than I was having.

I went back to my document and re-read the same sentence 5 times before the words became unrecognizable.

Make sure to be consistent…what a weird word…consistent. It seems like a positive thing, but starts with “con” which is the opposite of pro, which gives it a negative connotation in my mind. Blah.

I scrolled through my own Instagram photos. I’m traveling around the world, going to cool places, doing cool things…I shouldn’t feel like this. I should be happy all the time. I should feel exactly like I look in all of the photos I’ve posted.

What’s wrong with me??

I felt like I was being dragged through my days by life — like a water skier who had fallen off her skis, but held on to the rope being pulled by the boat. Everything around me was constantly changing. Every day was different. I wasn’t effecting change. Change was affecting me. I needed to regain control.

I needed some sort of consistency in my life — a routine.

I heard about morning routines from a number of people and decided to give it a try. What began as a simple statement of gratitude, evolved into these 7 steps that I relied on for sanity, happiness, and a positive, productive day.

(Disclaimer: I didn’t make these up. They came from people I talked to, articles I read, presentations I listened to, etc. I just combined the ones that worked for me based on how I interpreted them. Thanks to Johnson, Marina Lvova, Rose Chhun, Eno, a few of my inspirers on this topic.)

My 7-Step Morning Routine

Gratitude

“I am grateful for… my brother. I loved our conversation last night. Having someone who is always there to share a laugh, talk about life, and who I can be completely myself with is really awesome.”

Gratitude is one powerful way to instantly change how you feel. Starting your day with gratitude puts you in a positive mindset and helps you create more of the good stuff in life. Here’s the neuroscience behind it, according to Alex Korb Ph.D. Write it down.

3 Great Things

“3 great things that happened yesterday:
- I finally found a cafe that I enjoyed working from. It was well-lit, had great coffee and food, fresh air, and strong wifi.
- I was able to navigate my way back to my apartment without using Google Maps. I’m becoming familiar with this new city and finding my way around.
- I stumbled upon a Bio Markt and found a bag of coconut chocolate popcorn. I was craving popcorn for a while, and this one was delicious.”

Reflecting on the good things that happened forces you to appreciate the little things and celebrate your wins. It challenges your memory and helps you not take the good things that happen for granted, no matter how small or insignificant they may be. Write it down.

Daily Affirmation

“I affirm that: I am curious. I am learning constantly. I am getting stronger. I am beautiful. I am encouraging. I am helpful. I love my family. I love helping people. I love myself for who I am.”

Think about the person you want to be. Choose to be that person and affirm that you are that person. Feel the shift as you declare who you are. With a focus on the kind of person you want to be, your actions will follow suit, making your thoughts a reality. Write it down.

What If Possibilities

“What if: I finished all of my chores before noon today. What if I had lunch with a stranger today and was interested in their life story. What if I was super productive at work and completed all of my top priority items without distraction. What if I invited friends over for dinner and enjoyed a home-cooked meal with fun conversation. What if I had a great day!”

Creating possibilities creates opportunities. Decide what you want. What could possibly happen that would make it a great day for you? Don’t limit yourself. Think of things that may push you out of your comfort zone. In an ideal world, how would you want your day to go? Write it down.

9 Minutes of Writing

Get a notebook. A journal. A diary. Whatever you want to call it. A bound collection of pages you can go to and write every day. You don’t have to be a writer. It’s just to clear your mind. Set a timer for 9 minutes, 15 minutes, an hour…whatever you need. Start writing whatever thoughts are in your head.

What‘s on your mind? What are you pondering? What are you curious about? What’s frustrating you? Why are you excited? Put it on paper, so you don’t have to hold onto it in your mind. Write it down.

Language Lesson

Or any lesson. Or reading. Or watching. Or listening. The point here is to learn something.

Learning will keep our minds sharp. It shouldn’t stop after school. Actually, now that you don’t have to learn things for a class, you can learn all the things you’re actually interested in. Learn something for yourself. Something that contributes to your interests, your passions, your hobbies. Learn something for you.

Workout

Get up and get moving. You could save this for the end of your day, but chances are you’ll be too tired after work, you’ll want to hang out with friends, you’d rather watch an episode of your favorite show, etc. If you plug working out into your morning routine, it becomes a habit that is sure to get done. You know what they say: “Healthy body, healthy mind.” Plus, it actually reverses the effects of stress on your brain.

Sounds like a lot. How much time does it take?

It takes me 2 hours to get through all of this. And it’s non-negotiable for me.

Wow that’s a lot. I don’t have that kind of extra time.

That’s what I used to think. But why should time for yourself be extra? If you’re giving 8+ hours a day to a job, 2+ hours a day to friends, 2+ hours a day to social media, why can’t you save 2 hours a day to take care of yourself? To make sure that you are the best version of yourself?

You deserve it.

Your job deserves it. Your friends deserve it. The world deserves it. So, do it.

Go to bed a little early and wake up a little early if you have to. Find a way to do it. And do it every daycommit to it.

If you’re having trouble sticking to your commitments, this might help. If you’re not sure you need to do it every day, I learned why daily self-care should be non-negotiable when I was in Bali.


Found this helpful? Share it to help others, as these are things others have shared to help me.

Have something to add that really works for you? Put it in a response below, I’d love to learn about it!


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