How A Morning Ritual Changed My Life

Courtesy of Flickr/Jon Wick

I remember that Saturday morning in March as if it was yesterday, I was browsing online looking for my next book to read, when I stumbled upon Hal Elrod’s The Miracle Morning, a book that served as a guide for people like Richard Branson, a man who needs no introduction and whose success speaks by itself. The book praised the idea of waking up at the crack of dawn and performing a morning ritual meant to improve my every day and by that, my life. While I was already a morning riser, my wake-up time usually didn’t happen before the sun was out, nor did I have any kind of ritual, apart from drinking water first thing in the morning. Needless to say I was intrigued.

In The Miracle Morning, Hal Elrod breaks down the morning rituals in 6 easy steps, going by the acronym S.A.V.E.R.S.

S — Silence

Meditate for at least a few minutes every morning. Sit in silence, follow your breath, calm your mind. If you think meditation is not for you, as most of us do in the beginning, try with just a few minutes of silence and breathing and add more time as you get more comfortable with it.

A — Affirmations

What is it you truly believe in and you want to accomplish? Affirm it to the Universe and watch the magic unfold.

V — Visualization

Can you see it? Can you see your goals come true? Imagine them in the deepest detail possible. If your goal is a relationship, imagine your partner, what do they look like, what is the dynamic between you, how does the relationship make you feel, how does your partner make you feel? If it’s your future home, how is it decorated, what does the neighborhood look like?

E — Exercise

Get your body moving. It can be a walk around the block with the dog or an intense workout, whatever your style is, just keep your body moving.

R — Reading

Grab a book. Learn something new every morning. You might think you have no time for reading, but really, you can read or learn something in 5 minutes every morning. That book you’ve been wanting to read — 10 pages every morning will have you finishing it before you know it.

S — Scribe

Write it down! Whether you’re writing down your goals and aspirations or you’re working on your own book, or even if you’re writing your game plan for the day with a detailed to-do list, just sit down and write it.

I started the ritual exactly as expected, excited about the new challenge. Even though the idea of waking up at 5am was not something I longed for, I tried it. Some days were easy as I woke up full of energy, others were quite painful and the last thing I wanted to do was get out of bed, let alone actually go through my ritual. Using the SAVERS guidance, I decided to create my own morning ritual that looked like this.

  1. Workout. I really experimented with this. I tried to start the morning with meditation instead, but I realized that I would almost fall asleep during it, no matter how upright my spine was. So instead I decided to start my morning with a workout. To make it even easier, I would do a 30min at home video workout. This way, I didn’t have to think about what exercises to do, how many sets, I would just press play and get in the groove. The roll out of bed and work out technique gave me so much energy that I was buzzing with endorphins for the rest of my day.
  2. Meditate. Once my body was awake from the workout and the shower, it was time to let my mind quiet down. The 10 minutes of breathing meditation made me feel like I was lifting out of my tingling with endorphins body.
  3. Write. As a writer, I loved this part. Some mornings I’d just write my gratitude thoughts and affirmations, others I would write an article or something that inspired me. For me this was also the visualization part, as I would try to visualize my goals as I wrote them down.
  4. Read. I used a timer for every part of the morning ritual to make sure that I kept myself on time, but for this one, the timer was even more important as I would have the tendency to just dive into a book or a long article for way too long. On weekends however, the reading was the last part of my morning ritual and I allowed myself to do it for as long as I wanted to, whether that meant 20 minutes or 3 hours.
  5. Learn. We all complain we don’t have time to learn new things unless they are specifically related to our work so I decided to make learning part of my ritual. I’ve always loved languages so I picked French (which I already spoke a bit) and Italian (which I barely spoke at all) to serve as my two learning rituals.

For the longest time people believed that it takes 21 days to form a new good habit (the bad ones take a lot less), but recent studies show that it takes an average of 66 days to form a sustainable habit, which is what I was going for. So I gave myself 66 days. I wanted to see what would happen by the end of those 66 days and during that time, I would give it my all to follow my morning ritual.

Here’s what happened during those 66 days:

  • I loved it and I hated it, as expected
  • I wanted to give up so many times or maybe not give up, but al least skip some steps
  • Some mornings I simply didn’t have the time to invest a whole hour in my morning ritual so I learned to be flexible about it and understand that a ritual is a ritual whether it takes an hour or it’s done in 5 minutes. As long as I commit to it, that’s all that matters.
  • I read 11 books. I’m not sure how many books I would read before in a normal 66-day cycle, but I’m pretty sure I wasn’t finishing a book every six days
  • I got in even better shape. I’m passionate about health and fitness so I’ve always been in pretty good shape, but after these 66 days, I was in the best shape of my life.
  • I added three more outlets to the list of websites I write for and got really consistent about writing on my own blog every week
  • Improved my level of speaking French and started learning some Italian
  • Got a new job offer working at my dream company, but also with a dream team
  • Set in motion a relocation to a new city — while this one was not a goal I had in mind, when the opportunity came to take a quantum leap in my career by moving to a different city, I knew I was prepared for it because my morning ritual kept me grounded in everything that was important to me and allowed me to see the benefits of starting a new life and a new job in a different city

Maybe the most important part of those 66 days was that I became more open to learning and participating in new things that just showed up in my life such as climbing, swimming, playing sports I wasn’t comfortable with, meeting new people, asking for support, believing I can achieve anything I set my mind to, being grounded in reality while at the same time looking at the horizon for my next dream to unfold. And on day 66, I knew that wasn’t the end of the cycle, but truly a beginning of a lifetime of miracle mornings.