First, forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether or not you’re inspired.-Octavia Butler
Mornings are hard.
But they’re extremely important.
The thing is, mornings have been a little stereotyped nowadays. It’s as if you have to be a “morning person” to like mornings, to wake up early, or to appear successful. But that isn’t true.
It wasn’t until I moved to Colorado that I learned how to get up early routinely. But it took a lot of self-discipline.
The trick to having a solid morning routine that’ll set you up for success is this: intentionality.
When you’re intentional about your morning (and evening) routine, success is bound to follow. Inspiration is great and helpful, but also fleeting. When you develop healthy and intentional habits in your morning routine, you’ll not only feel successful and accomplished, but you’ll become successful and accomplished. It’s the after effect.
One thing I realized, though, is that no matter what you do, you still have a morning routine. Whether you wake up at 4 AM, 7:30, or at or noon. Everyone has a morning drill despite what the specifics look like. We focus on and do what matters to us the most before heading out the door. That can be coffee, showering, makeup, or a morning devotion.
Not only is establishing morning routine mentally stimulating and physically challenging, but it’s also a good practice for discipline and personal development.
But the key for success is being intentional.
Think about your morning routine. What does it look like? Are you happy with it? What is intentional? What’s not?
How can you be more intentional?
Fail to plan, plan to fail.
If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.-Colin Powell
As one of my favorite authors says, Design is far more powerful than willpower. You must be intentional. You need to set yourself up for successful. If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail (Benjamin Hardy).
Your minor accomplishments will motivate and push you towards bigger things. And quicker, too. Start with turning off all your electronics one hour before bed time, tonight. Then tomorrow, go to bed an hour earlier than your “usual” time.
It might be uncomfortable.
Actually, it WILL be uncomfortable. But it will help you achieve excellence in big things, like the dreams and desires of your heart. The ones you’ve been thinking about since you were a kid.
In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.-Tony Robbins
You form your habits by consistently doing something. The more consistent you are, the more comfortable you’ll be.
Not a complacent comfort, but a familiar, flexible kind. The kind where there’s room for adjustments, streamlining, and growth. Of all things, it’s never about comfort (for pleasure). If you want to grow, then you’re going to face some challenging, uncomfortable, painful things.
You need to get comfortable with learning.
In a few minutes, I’m going to share some fundamental ingredients to a morning routine that will set you up for success. If you do these every single morning intentionally, you will grow and transform and ultimately be successful. Your approach to each ingredient is up to you based on your specific goals and life aspirations. But these will help you be more intentional as you build healthy habits first thing of your day.
It’s totally up to you. Because at the end of the day (and beginning and throughout) you’re in control of your consistent actions.
- Rise early. If possible, around or before sunrise.
- Move around. Place your alarm across the room so you get out of bed; then, right after shutting it off, stretch.
- Hydrate. Drink water as soon as possible, and as much as you can; then, wash your face with cold water.
- Accomplish. Make your bed; accomplishing something at the start of your day will motivate you to accomplish things throughout your day.
- Meditate. Take a moment to connect with yourself and with God; do this by prayer and meditation, reading the word, listening to worship music, journaling, etc.
- Nourish. Eating breakfast (whether a full meal or an apple) helps your brain and mind, gut and internal system, and energy.
- Get creative. Mornings are the best time for creative work; your brain isn’t distracted but at its peak for creativity.
If possible, around or before sunrise.
“It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom”– Aristotle
One of the best ways to start your day is to greet it. There is a gloriousness to it that is worth experiencing. You watch the world wake up around you, along with the sunrise, and get the sense that you’ve had a head start. It feels like you’re on top of the world, truly.
Not only do you get into a reflective and grateful state, but you get motivated to succeed. Your dreams become a little more tangible every day, and before you know it, you’ll realize how to spend your mornings most effectively. Your mornings will become important to you, so much that you’ll take it seriously and spend every minute intentionally.
Waking up early is easy when you’ve implemented an evening routine. Like I said earlier, start by turning off your electronics. Go to bed one hour earlier. Create your ideal way of winding down. Read a book, journal, or meditate. This will help you sleep well and rest.
When your evening routine is peaceful, it sets you up for a successful morning routine. Start small and work your way into it. Take care of your evening routine and you’ll be ready to wake up early. With joy.
Rising early also becomes addicting. You’ll see that it’s where things happen and you’ll want to make it part of your routine more and more. You’ll want to wake up even earlier when you see all that you accomplish. It’s easier to wake up when you have a goal, mission, and purpose. So, as part of your evening routine, think about what’s important to you at this point in life. What big ideas and dreams do you have?
Place your alarm across the room so you get out of bed; then, right after shutting it off, stretch.
“Wake up early and tackle the day before it tackles you. Be on offense, not defense.”– Evan Carmichael
This is the ultimate trick to being on offense. You’re in control of your body – it is not in control of you. When that alarm goes off, you have a choice to make. Either roll over and snooze or get out of bed and move.
Rolling over and snoozing is comfortable and sweet in the moment. But by the time you get out of bed, you’ll find yourself more tired, groggy, and feeling pathetic. Set yourself up and put your alarm far enough for you to get out of bed, walk, and reach out to turn it off.
Next, do a couple stretches. I often set my alarm in a way where I have to bend over or reach out. This puts me in a stretching position, which then means I can continue stretching. You don’t have to do anything intense or professionally. Just get your body moving!
Stretching helps wake up your body systems: cardiovascular, respiratory, nervous, muscular, and skeletal. It stimulates your mind as you engage with your body movements and feel the blood flow. Just like rising early, this also becomes addicting (and voila, a healthy habit starts to form).
Drink water as soon as possible, and as much as you can; then, wash your face with cold water.
If you’re bored with life – you don’t get up every morning with a burning desire to do things – you don’t have enough goals.Lou Holtz
Once you’ve moved around and stretched, keep going. Get some water and drink up. Or swap the two and drink water before you stretch. Either way, this helps your last body system: digestive (and nervous system, too). Hydrating first thing in the morning energizes your brain and makes your digestive system wake up.
After getting water inside you, get water on you. Wash your face with cold water (it’s even better if you take a quick cold shower, like for a minute). Forcing yourself into discomfort will make you more comfortable to take risks throughout your day. It feels crazy, and it’s scary, but it’s rewarding because it shows YOU how capable and in control you are.
Washing my face with cold water is still uncomfortable, but that feeling after is so rewarding. There’s a dopamine boost that makes your brain feel awake, alert, and ready to take anything on.
Now that you’ve moved around and hydrated, get dressed and start accomplishing!
Make your bed; accomplishing something at the start of your day will motivate you to accomplish things throughout your day.
“Wake up early every day so that while others are still dreaming, you can make your dreams come true.”– Hal Elrod
This is a small point, but it’s vital.
Make. Your. Bed.
William McCraven, author of Make Your Bed: Little Things Can Change Your Life…and Maybe the World, said, “If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day; It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. And by the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed.”
Making the bed is necessary for you psychologically more than it is physically (visually). Like McCraven says, it will give you a small sense of pride, though you won’t even notice. By this time, you will have taken care of yourself and put yourself together. So now, take care of something else and put your bed together.
It’s a simple thing. But put some intentionality behind it, and you’ll be ready to accomplish your next tasks with grit and energy.
Take a moment to connect with yourself and with God; do this by prayer and meditation, reading the word, listening to worship music, journaling, etc.
Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.Psalm 143:8
Now that you’ve physically woken up, tune in to God. Wake up your spirit.
There are many scriptures that talk about waking up early to hear God’s voice (especially in Psalms). You’re more aware and sensitive to it. The day’s distractions haven’t stolen your attention yet. Jesus also often rose early to be with God (see, even He had an intentional morning routine).
Meditating in the morning helps you understand your purpose here on earth a little better. It sharpens your vision for your life. When you intentionally tune your spirit to God, you’ll get flashes of revelation and insight on how to accomplish your dreams and goals.
You might feel nothing. You might hear nothing. But having this time in the morning will convince you that there is something. There’s more to it. More to your life and your purpose and dreams. And if you don’t want more, it’ll help strip away the unnecessary things that appear mundane.
When you intentionally connect with God, the ultimate source of life, you become more aware of all that is important in your life. Building faith in the morning will make miracles follow you around all day.
Eating breakfast (whether a full meal or an apple) helps your brain, gut, and digestive system. And soul.
I’ll eat some breakfast, then change the world.– Unknown
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Unless you’re intermittent fasting (for a health or spiritual reason), eat breakfast. Nourishing yourself with a nutritious breakfast helps your brain and soul function optimally. If you want to be the best version of yourself, start with nutrition.
Nourishment means to provide food or other substances necessary for growth, health, and excellent condition. When you have breakfast, you break your fast and replenish yourself with necessary vitamins and nutrients that provide energy for the rest of the day. This saves you from craving high-sugar foods and overeating later on.
When you nourish your body properly, it affects your soul. Your body carries you around, so it needs nourishment to operate in your favor. Your confidence will increase. Your self-esteem becomes healthy. Your stamina multiplies. And you’re able to achieve all that you set your mind to.
Knowing what breakfast does for your brain and the rest of your body helps you be intentional about what you have for breakfast. So, see what works for you. You need not make an elaborate breakfast (unless you want to). Keep it simple, but intentional. Be intentional about what goes into your body. Be intentional about understanding what it does to you, first thing in the morning.
Mornings are the best time for creative work; your brain isn’t distracted but at its peak for creativity.
“The time just before dawn contains the most energy of all hours of the day. This has helped me become an early riser and an early doer.”– Terri Guillemets
Every single person is creative. If you can imagine something, you can create. Take this time to work on something you love, or something new. Something that’s personal for you.
The God who created the sun also painted the sunrise for you this morning. If you’re lacking in imagination, ask Him for help. Read the Bible for a few minutes. Read poetry. Do something that will work up your imagination. Just like your body needs help to wake up, so does your creativity.
Creativity is the production of art. And art can be anything. Work on your business, write, draw, plan. Step into the unknown. Your opportunities are limitless. I love how Benjamin Hardy says it, If you wake up every day and begin doing highly creative work toward your biggest dreams and ambitions, you’ll begin living a rare and incredible life.
Don’t confuse art with what others are doing. This is your morning routine. This is how you’re intentional. Get creative because your brain is the most creative in the morning.
Creativity is a crucial part to have an intentional morning routine. Implement it at all costs, even if it’s for ten minutes.
Some people dream of success, while other people get up every morning and make it happen.–Wayne Huizenga
With these key ingredients, here’s your morning:
- Wake up
- Drink water
- Wash up
- Make your bed
- Eat breakfast
- Get creative
Everyone has a morning routine. But those that are intentional about it have success.
The sun has not caught me in bed in fifty years.– Thomas Jefferson