You’ve probably heard of all these successful people and how they go on about their ‘morning routines’ and how this simple practice is one of the foundations for their successes, right? Me too – and I’m a big fan of a structured morning routine for precisely that reason; when I set myself up for success by starting my day right, I am happier, more fulfilled and more energised. But why? How can following a simple morning routine have such a profound effect not only on the day that follows, but on your life as a whole?
The answer is simple; the first 20 minutes of your day are the most important, because it’s in the first 20 minutes after waking that your mind is at it’s most receptive. So think about it, if your mind is in it’s most open and receptive state during the first 20 minutes after waking, then it becomes easy to see how important it is that we’re super vigilant about what we feed it during this time of the day.
Think about it; what do you do when you first wake up in the morning? What are your daily habits that shape your day? You see, it’s not just the rich, famous and successful that have morning routines – we ALL have a morning routine or ritual of some description. The stark difference in is the quality of those morning routines. Are they designed to serve you? Are they designed at all? Or is it a routine you’ve fallen into as a result of your circumstances, your environment or the expectations others have of you?
Ask yourself; am I in control of my morning, or have I given control of it over to others?
Being a parent myself, I can hear the screams and cries of parents to young children bellowing in desperation and helplessness – when you have kids, especially young kids, you’ve no choice but to meet the expectations of others before your own!
I hear you, but consider this; if you don’t look after your own needs first, then how can you possibly expect to be at your best, and therefore give your best to your kids or other dependants? Looking after your own needs isn’t selfish… far from it – it’s a necessity if you are truly serious about being the best version of yourself so you can give the best of yourself to the world (no matter how big or small your world might be).
So make the first 20 minutes of your day your own – if that means getting up even earlier, or enlisting the help of a partner, then so be it. An important rule in any relationship is to work to facilitate the needs of your significant other, as they should do for you. When you facilitate each others needs, rather than focusing on simply facilitating and fulfilling your own, then everyone’s needs get met with a lot less stress and upset.
Are you one of those people who drags themselves out of bed, switches on the TV or radio to listen to the morning news, and reads the morning paper over a rushed mug of coffee before racing out of the door – already stressed before the day has even begun? Tell me… how does the rest of the day look when it starts like this? It’s not hard to imagine this having a massively detrimental effect on your energy levels, positivity, and physiology.
Can you imagine how bad it is for you to have so many different stress hormones coursing through your body before you’ve even arrived at work? And at such debilitatingly high levels? That is definitely NOT a formula for success!
There’s lots wrong with that version of a morning routine, however let’s focus solely on the information input element – the stuff that’s heading straight for your brain in it’s most receptive state.
The enemy – the news.
What do we know about the news? Quite simply, if it bleeds it leads… so do you still think putting any type of news or media broadcast on first thing in the morning is a healthy idea that’s going to be result in you achieving a peak state of performance for your day ahead? Er, no. Putting on the news is a guaranteed dose of negativity, death, disease and destruction – hardly the ingredients for a peak state.
But the biggest problem isn’t the news itself, or fear mongering news anchors – it’s the thoughts it creates within the sacred space of our minds. As we start to process all the bad things that are happening in the world (cause let’s face it, the Easter Bunny doesn’t make an appearance on the news unless someone has dressed up to impersonate it in order to commit some heinous crime), we start to activate all the negative pathways of the mind which release stress hormones into our blood stream. These stress hormones then effectively poison our bodies having a detrimental effect on our ability to deal with the world in an effective way that gets results. It’s a soup of chemicals that creates a type of brain fog that can be debilitating.
So what’s the alternative?
Feed your mind with the fertiliser it needs to grow the positivity, energy and calm that in turn have the ability to help you design and build the life your desire. Leave the TV and radio OFF! Forget social media! Do NOT read the newspaper!
Let’s face it, although it is good to be aware, there’s very little in the news that actually directly effects you, and even less that you can actually do anything about. So what’s the point? Zero.
Tune the instrument of your mind as a musician tunes their instrument; take that time before you step on stage for the gig of your life to ensure that all your strings are vibrating in harmony with each other. The musician uses tuning pegs, so what are the tuning pegs of the mind?
Meditation – Visualisation – Affirmation – Gratitude – Inspiration
Just 5 minutes of meditation daily has been scientifically proven to have measurable and lasting results on both mental and physical health – it has the amazing benefit of increasing happiness, increasing productivity, improving clarity, and allowing you to live in a much more self-aware state. It also has a profound effect on you physically, and might even help you live longer through reduced levels of stress hormones and some other very cool biological processes that such a practice promotes.
Visualisation is a powerful tool for creating focus and clarity around a life of passion and purpose that you can move towards, and for amplifying the pain around where you are and where you’ll still be in 10, 15, 20 years if you don’t start moving and take massive action to achieve your desired outcomes in life. Remember this, the mind doesn’t know the difference between what is a real experience and what is an imagined experience… so imagining where you want to be, and who you want to be, is extremely powerful in helping to shape your life and expedite your results.
Affirmation is the first stage of making a thought a reality. When you take an unspoken thought and speak it out loud, you are creating it in this world for the first time in a way that is tangible and that can be interpreted by others. It’s the first baby step in making your dreams a reality, and everything you see around you once started as a thought in someone’s head… and in every case, the first step in making that thought a reality was speaking it aloud and/or writing it down. Set your goals, decide who you want to be, and where you want to be, and make a conscious effort to bring it into this world by either speaking it aloud, or by writing it down in a daily journal.
Gratitude is essential for happiness at the highest level – know this, you cannot be angry, sad, pissed off, upset, or jealous AND in a state of gratitude at the same time. Try it! Just try being angry and grateful at the same time and let me know how you get on! Doesn’t work does it? Gratitude is essential for a happy life, and if we try hard enough we can all think of something to be grateful for in our lives – no matter how small and insignificant it might at first appear. Gratitude lights the way, and alongside forgiveness has been scientifically shown to be the most effective states to create peak brain waves states in our brains. So, you want to tune your own brain to put it in the optimum state for success? Meditate on the things you’re grateful for and forgive those against whom you harbour grievances – it’s not for them, it’s for you.
Finally, start your day with inspiration. Turn off the news, and substitute it for a healthy motivational video from inspiring characters like Will Smith and Dwayne Johnson. Maybe even a bit of Dr. Eric Thomas or Tony Robbins – it doesn’t matter your preferences, there’s an inspiration person out there with hundreds of videos on YouTube that will get your motivational juices flowing and get you pumped to jump right into your day in an inspired way. Or, just read a good book that teaches you how to live or think better – learning is accelerated during the first 20 minutes of the day BECAUSE we’re more open and receptive!
Start your day right; the first 20 minutes is everything.
Don’t poison your mind with disempowering crap as soon as you wake up each day – feed it with the food of champions. Remember the winning formula:
Meditation – Visualisation – Affirmation – Gratitude – Inspiration
Every. Single. Day.