Why your morning habits are standing between you and your goals
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit” — Aristotle.
I placed this quote on my vision board in January 2017, and for quite a while I’ve read about the benefits of a morning routine. I’ve seen close friends adapt these carefully constructed rituals and have noticed the profound differences they’ve made.
So I embraced the timeless cliché and made it my new years resolution to find my ritual.
Why put so much emphasis on a “morning” ritual? Well, as I mentioned, I read a fair amount on the benefits of a consistent morning and what I found was conclusive.
- Getting up early gives you time to reflect on your goals
If you build in time to embrace your existence, your reason for being (ikigai) and your purpose, your brain will become addicted to your morning habit. Think about what you want to achieve in life, what your purpose is and how you are going to reach those goals. This active awareness helps you become more proactive and less reactive.
2. Consistent, regular behaviors give us a feeling of stability
As human beings, we crave stability. Tony Robins beautifully explains why in his TED talk 6 human needs. Preparing yourself before starting the hustle and bustle of the day gives you a firm grasp of what you need to do. Control is one of the key ingredients your mind needs to enter a flow state. Speaking of which…
3. Morning rituals prime your brain to enter a flow state
If you haven’t already read Flow, by Mihaly Csiksgentmihalyi, you should. If you have, and heard of this elusive state, flow is where your brain blocks out the noise and taps into a greater degree of cognitive performance. Tasks are easier to complete and your mind can better connect abstract concepts.
4. A morning ritual helps you start the day feeling accomplished
If you’ve ever had a day where you felt sluggish and unmotivated, you know how important checking an item off your to do list can be key for your psyche.
Positive momentum is infectious, and many studies demonstrate the effects of positive vs negative momentum. That feeling can also be the armor you need to keep bad news from shoving you into a rut.
5. It puts you in a good mood
Research shows that kick starting the day with a good mood impacts your performance and productivity for the rest of day. A good mood makes a huge difference when it comes to dealing with stress and meeting your work deliverables throughout the day.
We all know the decisions you make throughout the day, no matter how small, impact our lives. Each chocolate croissant that’s eaten, or not eaten, pen the pages of our life’s story. If you want to reach your goals and create the life you want to lead, a morning ritual gives you the ability to have greater control of these small, but important decisions.
How I eventually found my ritual
To be honest, I wasn’t born this way — and, honestly, I have a hard time believing anyone is. I loathed getting up early. The dawn was my arch nemesis, which made Dubai’s 5am sunrises particularly painful.
I dreaded taking any meetings before 10AM and the fact that my boss could surreptitiously slide meetings onto my calendar before my brain became fully functional made my skin crawl.
But once I began my morning ritual experiment, I realized something: the earlier I rose and the more I chiseled away at the myriad of morning alarms, the better my decisions were throughout the day. It made me proactive and engaged, not a reactive busy worker.
A few weeks later, I noticed something else: the rituals didn’t just make me more productive, they gave me clarity and improved my health. I started to feel more grounded and in tune with my sense of being. Make no mistake, it took a degree of trial and error. Here are a few books and articles that will help you discover your routine.:
- My Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod: My Miracle Morning explores morning routines rigidly, and provides a clear guide of a well-put together and robust methodology with plenty of good examples and tools to help you implement a morning ritual.
- Top Medium writers like Benjamin Hardy: these writers constantly share check lists and to-dos that showcase the practical methodology in a training format.
- Flow Genome Project by Jamie Wheel and Steven Kotler: the Flow Genome Project structures a 6 week training guide to Flow Fundamentals.
- Tony Robbins 10 minutes ritual: Robbins boils down the essential components of a morning ritual into a 10 minute format that everyone can find time to do.
- Model Health Show: this podcast features Shawn Steven sharing proof points about the benefits of establishing a morning ritual. Listen to my favorite episode here.
- The Super Successful All Have Early Morning Rituals: Richard Branson, Steve Jobs even Benjamin Franklin saw the power of starting the day earlier than their peers. Franklin had 2–3 hours of his day blocked on his calendar starting 5AM, called “powerful goodness” where he would ask himself “what good should I do today?”
You probably won’t find the perfect fit in one of these rituals, I didn’t. But they’ll help you in your search for certainty — one of our basic needs as humans. They open your eyes to different ideas, inspire you and fuel your creativity.
My Morning Ritual
So, after months of trial and error, I finally settled on a routine. It took me 8 months to perfect. There were weeks where I craved the ritual and there were weeks where I relapsed into my old ways. But I stuck to it. And this is the routine I ended up adopting:
The SAVERS Ritual from The Miracle Morning (download my goal setting toolkit at the end of the article):
S = silence, I couple it with meditation for 10–20 minutes depending on my schedule.
A = affirmations, I reflex on and affirm the value in my yearly goals.
V = visualization, I visualize myself achieving those goals and the steps I need to take to reach them. I have this placed on my vision board, which I try to use instead of a TV.
E = exercise, I move around for at least 10 minutes to get my blood flowing if I am not going to the gym, which I do 3 times a week.
R = reading, I sit down and fully read a few articles or my book.
S = scribe, I write in my daily journal.
- Intention: I set my intention for the day.
“Intentions are the force that keeps information in consciousness ordered. They act as magnetic fields keeping our minds focused. We often call the manifestation of intentionality by other names such as instinct, need, drive or desire.” -From the book “Flow”
- Gratitude: I count my blessings everyday. I jot down a list of 10 things and say thank you for what I am grateful for. Often, we focus on the things we don’t have versus the things we have — the more we focus on what we have the more we feel abundant. Magic is a great book to read on the power of gratitude.
I try to practice this every single day, but I do occasionally miss days. Life happens. The important thing is that no matter what happens, you always try to come back to your ritual later.
What really helped me most is, I have set “daily ritual” as part of my resolutions for this year, resolution #2. It’s clearly stated on my vision board and part of my daily affirmations. You see, everything you do is interconnected and with every decision you are setting a base for yourself that’s there to ground you.
I plan to write dedicated posts for each of my rituals and why I chose them, so stay tuned. I will also continue to share some of what I achieved as a result of practicing my morning ritual. For now, I hope this has inspired you to start establishing your own ritual. Don’t wait another day! Start now!
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