You can’t expect to have highly focused, productive, and successful days if your mornings are unfocused, unproductive, and stressful. In fact, the way you start the day has a big effect on how you feel and perform throughout the rest of your day.
Thus, when you start the day strong by following an empowering morning routine, you set yourself up for a successful day. You make sure you show up in the right condition for success.
Habit #1: Planning & Goal-setting
Planning and goal-setting are essential parts of creating a highly productive and successful day. If you don’t have a clear plan for what you need to achieve and when you should work on what tasks, you’ll quickly fall prey to procrastination and other distractions.
Therefore, identify your 1–3 daily goals, create a ‘success list’ (which is a to-do list on steroids) to get clear on your to-dos and their priority, and schedule your day in accordance with your goals and to-dos. I clearly notice how my days are a lot more focused and productive this way.
Habit #2: Self-Education
Self-education is another critical component of an empowering morning routine. By reading books or by listening to audiobooks or podcasts on-the-go (during your commute, for example), you fuel your mind with inspiration and motivation. Furthermore, you’ll gain new ideas and learn new lessons that you could apply right away. Much better than watching TV, right?
Personally, I love to listen to audiobooks in the morning because it’s a very time-efficient method of learning. My daily commute to my workspace is no longer ‘wasted time’. Instead, it’s ‘productive time’. I use Audible to listen to audiobooks. When you start your free trial there, you immediately get two audiobooks for free!
Habit #3: Review Your Big-Picture Goals
One of the main reasons people fail to achieve their goals is that after the initial motivation of setting the goal has worn off, they literally forget about their goals.
Most people don’t remind themselves daily of their big-picture goals (1+ year goals), so they eventually stop making daily progress towards these goals. Over time, they’ve fallen so off-track that they are forced to set new goals — all to repeat the same cycle again and again.
Instead, review your big-picture goals daily. Not only does this fuel you with the motivation you need to crush the day, but you’ll also become highly consistent as you’ll base your daily goals and actions around the pursuit of your big goals.
Habit #4: Meditation
I used to never ‘believe’ in meditation. I thought it was weird that sitting still for 10–20 minutes could have any positive effect on your performance. I couldn’t be more wrong…
Many scientific studies have proven that meditation leads to better decision making, improved focus, and decreased stress as it correlates with increased gray matter in certain important areas of the brain (such as the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus).
It’s no wonder that many highly successful individuals such as Arianna Huffington, Bill Gates, Rick Rubin, Kobe Bryant, and Will Smith meditate regularly.
I prefer to meditate at the start of the day as I tend to carry the calm and focus throughout the rest of my day. However, you can also meditate on any other moment that you prefer. For example, while taking a necessary break from your work.
Habit #5: Journaling
Besides meditation, journaling is a highly effective habit to protect your focus for the truly important things. When inner chatter is distracting you because your mind is filled with thoughts, ideas, and worries, it’s incredibly challenging to be productive. And that’s where journaling comes in.
Simply writing down what’s on your mind — whether it’s the stress of an upcoming presentation or that million-dollar idea you’ve been thinking about — helps to stop your mind from racing. This way, you can direct your headspace to your goals and be more productive during the day.
Habit #6: Cold Shower
Besides a ton of health benefits that are linked to cold showers, there are many mental benefits that are equally valuable. When I start the day by taking a cold shower — which is not something I generally look forward to — I start it in a disciplined way.
I force myself to do something that I don’t necessarily want to do. This one act of discipline at the start of my day leads to a ripple effect that I benefit from for the rest of the day.
Furthermore, after taking a cold shower, you feel like you can handle any obstacle that comes in your way.
Habit #7: Hydration
Drinking enough water is essential for your ability to focus and think clearly. Furthermore, water transports essential vitamins and minerals throughout the body, which is crucial for energy production. All in all, drinking enough water is critical for high performance. That’s why, whenever I feel sluggish, I immediately down a glass of water.
If you don’t drink enough water, you might experience fatigue and brain fog — which reduces your ability to focus and think clearly. That’s why, right after waking, drink a few glasses of water and continue to drink enough water during the rest of your day.
Habit #8: Nutrition & Supplementation
Your nutrition has a big effect on how much energy you have and how well your brain can perform. Eat the wrong things, however, and you destroy your focus and productivity because you don’t have enough energy to crush it.
That’s why you should avoid sugars and too many carbs in the morning — as this will only leave you feeling sluggish. Instead, make sure you eat enough protein and healthy fats so that your energy levels are steady throughout the day, and your brain can perform at optimal levels.
Also, make sure you get enough essential vitamins and minerals that support your brain and energy levels — such as magnesium, vitamin D3, and omega 3 fish oils. If you have a deficit in certain essential vitamins and minerals (which a shockingly large number of people have), you can also supplement strategically.
Tip: I like to make a vegetable smoothie in the morning. Not only is it delicious, but it also contains essential micronutrients for optimal performance.
Habit #9: Avoid Your Smartphone
Starting your day by scrolling through Instagram or checking your email immediately puts you in a reactive state of mind. You’re forced to react to other people’s agenda instead of protecting your focus and headspace for your own goals, plans, and ambitions. Therefore, avoid your smartphone for the first hour of your day.
Habit #10: Read Your Affirmations
Affirmations are empowering messages that you want to remind yourself of on a daily basis. They are reminders of how you want to act, what you want to achieve, and who you want to become.
Starting your day by affirming certain messages to yourself primes your mind to act in accordance with these messages. Over time, your automatic thinking and behavior will completely change because you’re feeding yourself empowering messages daily.
Habit #11: Visualize Your Future Life
Visualization is a powerful habit to implement in your morning routine. Not only is it incredibly motivating to visualize about your successful future, but it also helps to create clarity on what you exactly want out of life.
What goals do I want to achieve? What obstacles might come in my way in my pursuit of these goals? What type of person do I want to be? Where do I want to live? What people do I want to surround myself with? What do I still need to do to make this dream a reality? Through visualization, many things will become clear.
Habit #12: Practice Gratitude
To start the morning on a positive note, I like to think about three things that I’m grateful for. It could be anything from my morning coffee to a beautiful memory from the past. By doing so, I train myself to look for the positive and to appreciate the small things in life. I clearly notice that this habit has helped me walk through life with more joy and appreciation.
Now Do It
Change only happens from doing, not just from knowing what to do. That’s why I invite you to try out at least 3 of these habits in your next morning. Feel free to share your experiences with me!
To Your Personal Growth,
Founder Personal Growth Lab