Nearly all peak performers in business, arts, entertainment, and sports have a morning routine. A morning routine is incredibly powerful because it sets the tone for the rest of your day.
Begin your day stressed, unfocused and unproductive, and you’ll likely have a stressed, unfocused, and unproductive day. Start it strong, however, and you’ll likely have a productive, focused, and energetic day.
The world’s highest performers understand this, which is why they carve out time for their goals and self-development in the morning. They prime their body and mind at the start of the day to perform at peak levels during the rest of the day.
Note: I want to make clear that the point of this article is not that you have to do EVERYTHING these people are doing — everyone is different and has different preferences. Rather, the point is that you gain new ideas and inspiration so that you can experiment with the habits you choose yourself.
Every single morning, Tony Robbins plunges into a 57-degree Fahrenheit (13- degrees Celsius) cold-plunge pool. Tony says, “I do it because there is nothing that can change everything in your system like a radical change in temperature. Every organ, every nerve in your body is on fire.”
Many of us don’t have a cold-plunge pool, but we can replicate the effects by taking a cold shower.
Personally, I’m a big fan of cold showers — they wake you up like no other. The first few seconds feel like hell, but after that, it feels incredible.
By taking a cold shower, you start the day strong & disciplined. Furthermore, there are many incredible health benefits associated with regular cold exposure.
“It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.” — Muhammad Ali
Affirmations are quotes, texts, and other messages that you want to remind yourself of. By reading these empowering affirmations every single morning, you prime your mind for success. Over time, with enough repetition, these reminders grow into beliefs — and these beliefs influence your thoughts and actions.
For example, one of my affirmations is “Fear is a compass for action. Direct action.” After repeating this message hundreds of times, it became part of my automatic thinking.
Many highly successful people start their day calmly in order to create clarity and avoid chaos & stress. Dr. Nick Zyrowski, the founder of NuVision Health Center, told Success Magazine:
“As a doctor, entrepreneur and father of young children, my days can easily become chaotic if not well executed. I wake at 6:30 a.m. and have at least 30 minutes of peaceful solitude with no distraction. I sip my morning coffee while getting my mind into the correct state via mindful meditation, reviewing my goals for the day, some educational reading and prayer. Positive thinking cultivates immense power in your mind, so I strongly pursue this mental state.”
Mark Cuban, Jack Dorsey, Oprah, and Tim Ferriss all start their day with meditation.
Tim Ferriss said that “Meditation, or mindfulness practice, it’s really about, to me, decreasing emotional reactivity so you can proactively create your day and create your life; versus, just being a walking reflex that sometimes screws up,”
Many highly successful people meditate because it’s been scientifically proven to change the structure of your brain (which is called ‘neuroplasticity’).
Regular meditation has been correlated with improved focus, better decision making, decreased stress & anxiety, and better perspective-taking.
“I’m recently married, and my husband and I make it a point to chat every morning — especially when I’m traveling. It grounds me and ensures that I start my day on a positive note.” — Payal Kadakia, founder and CEO of ClassPass
Many top performers make their intimate relationships a priority. In the morning, they take some time to connect with their loved ones. When I start my day by connecting with my girlfriend, I’m immediately in a positive state of mind.
If you’re single and have no kids, send one of your friends or family members a thoughtful message! You’ll start your day in a good mood.
As Arianna Huffington said “A big part of my morning ritual is about what I don’t do: when I wake up, I don’t start the day by looking at my smartphone. Instead, once I’m awake, I take a minute to breathe deeply, be grateful, and set my intention for the day.”
Many highly successful people start their day by avoiding their smartphone for the first 30–60 minutes. This way, they can proactively focus on their own goals and self-improvement instead of being forced to react to other people’s requests and messages from the start of their day.
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Richard Branson, Sheryl Sandberg, and Mark Zuckerberg all prioritize fitness upon waking. Richard Branson said that “No matter where I am in the world, I try to routinely wake up at around 5 am. By rising early, I’m able to do some exercise and spend time with my family, which puts me in a great mind frame before getting down to business.”
Each morning, Benjamin Franklin woke up at 5 a.m. and asked himself, “What good shall I do this day?”
Steve Jobs asked himself every single morning “If today was the was the last day of my life, would I be happy with what I’m about to do today?”
Peak performers are clear about their intentions for the day. This way, they make meaningful progress towards their goals. Most people, however, start the day without a clear plan or intention, which leaves them prone to distractions and time-wasting.
Jenny Blake, author of Pivot, said, “I love reading non-fiction books, with a candle lit, for one or two hours until the sun rises. Afterwards, I meditate for 30–45 minutes before starting the day.”
Every book you read equips you with more lessons and insights that make you a highly skilled individual. And when you start your day by reading non-fiction books, you feed your mind high-quality input, which leads to new ideas, breakthroughs, and higher motivation that you benefit from throughout the rest of your day.
This is why people like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Arianna Huffington, and Warren Buffett read so many books.
Warren Buffett, while pointing to a stack of books, said that “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”
“It’s easy to become obsessed with pushing the ball forward as a Type-A personality and end up a perfectionist who is always future-focused,” Tim Ferriss said in a podcast episode.
“The five-minute journal is a therapeutic intervention, for me at least, because I am that person. That allows me to not only get more done during the day but to also feel better throughout the entire day, to be a happier person, to be a more content person — which is not something that comes naturally to me.”
Many highly successful people journal at the start of their day. This way, they create clarity of thinking, capture ideas, focus on gratitude, and prime their mind on their goals. Journaling is one of those simple habits that has a powerful effect on your performance.
Gina Trapani, founding editor of Lifehacker.com, said that: “First thing in the morning your mind is clear, the office is quiet, and you haven’t gotten pulled into six different directions — yet. It’s your one opportunity to prioritize the thing that matters to you most, before your phone starts ringing and email inbox starts dinging. By knocking out something important on your to-do list before anything else, you get both momentum and a sense of accomplishment before 10 a.m.”
Productivity is not about being busy and doing a lot of things. Rather, it’s about consistently focusing on the most important tasks that create the most value for you or your business.
The most successful people understand this like no other. Therefore, they protect their mornings to work on their priorities.
Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, wrote his goals down 10–15 times per day. He mentioned that it was one of his secrets to success.
Most of us won’t have the patience to do this, but it’s a powerful way to focus the mind — leading to higher productivity and a stronger commitment to the goal during the day.
“Review your goals twice every day in order to be focused on achieving them.” — Les Brown
Remember, a strong start of the day sets the tone for a highly productive and successful day. This is precisely why nearly all peak performers have a morning routine.
The fastest way to grow and achieve higher levels of success is by modeling the common habits of the most successful, so try at least 3 of these habits yourself!
To Your Personal Growth,
Founder Personal Growth Lab