How many people do you know (including yourself) that actually enjoy living?
Think about this.
How many people do you know that greet you with a warm smile and make eye contact?
How many folks do you come across that ask about your day, and actually listen to what you are saying?
How many of them can hold a conversation for more than 5 minutes without getting distracted?
How many are living in the moment, instead of through a smart phone screen?
How many actually mean what they say, and say what they do?
How many consistently make others feel better for just spending time with them?
Chances are that out of the dozens of people you interact with on a daily basis, you probably only picked out a handful that actually met the above criteria.
Why is that?
Well, for one thing, the majority of us are extremely self absorbed.
That’s just human nature.
We are wired to look out for our own self interest.
It’s the reason why capitalism works so well. (And doesn’t.)
Now, add to that an incredible amount of low grade stress – traffic, bad relationships, work, bills, 24 hour news, social media, poor nutrition, lack of exercise, little sun exposure, insufficient sleep, alcohol, drugs, unfulfilled dreams – and what you have is a recipe for emotional disaster.
Most of us are completely and utterly desensitized from the world around us and walk through life half asleep, either living in the past or some distant future.
Here’s the thing, though, all there is and ever will be is RIGHT NOW.
You can’t go back in time.
And unless you learn how to be happy and focused right now, chances are you’ll never get to wherever it is you dream about “getting to” in the future.
For many of us this does not come easy.
For many years it has been something I’ve struggled with personally.
However, I came to the realization one day that I would never get ahead unless I changed my mindset.
One of the major keys (DJ Khaled voice) to overcoming this hurdle has been my morning routine.
You see, most of us start our day off in complete chaos.
We wake up tired because we didn’t get enough sleep to an alarm that sounds like a cold war era civil defense siren.
We pee, rush to get dressed, and run out the door checking emails and/or social media alerts.
This type of morning routine is detrimental to our well being.
You are starting off YOUR day on someone else’s schedule.
You begin the first hour of what will presumably be a 12-16 hour day with a complete lack of control over your thoughts, emotions, and priorities.
Now, some people don’t mind this.
They are completely unaware of themselves and fly through life by the seat of their pants.
This is quite fine – as long as you realize that people with this kind of attitude rarely make it very far or accomplish anything worthwhile.
Sure, you can make quite a bit of money working for someone else and have a comfortable lifestyle.
You could even go on a nice vacation every now and then.
But what I mean by accomplishing something worthwhile is living life on your own terms.
Following your dreams.
Building a legacy.
Not only by creating prosperity for yourself and those close to you, but by making an impact in this world – and making it significantly better for each and every single person you come into contact with.
The most successful people on earth start their day on their own terms.
They have a routine.
They understand that building a lifetime of success and freedom requires a sturdy foundation.
That foundation is mental, emotional, and spiritual stability.
I have studied the lives and habits of many successful individuals throughout the last few years and I have used that knowledge to construct my own “morning routine.”
This routine is the bedrock of my day; it allows me to leave the house each morning with a clear head and with the focus necessary to accomplish my goals and/or any tasks at hand.
The Routine –
- My routine starts the night before. I make sure I always get at least 7-8 hours of sleep – this is non negotiable. If you are chronically sleep deprived, you are compromising your immune system and cognitive abilities. Anyone that wants to perform optimally understands that this is a necessity, not a luxury.
- I wake up at least 90 minutes before I need to leave the house. You want an alarm that wakes you up gently – think nature sounds as opposed to “get to your fallout shelter!”
- I meditate for 30 minutes. Our brains are designed for deep thinking and focus. Unfortunately, our modern lifestyle is reprogramming our brains to do the exact opposite: to scan and multitask. The average attention span for an adult is now 8 seconds. That’s shorter than a gold fish! One of the absolute best ways to combat this is through mindful meditation. Along with improving our ability to concentrate, meditation enhances the neuroplasticity of the brain and literally helps to form new neuronal connections between the left and right brain. It helps to promote more creative, divergent thinking, and improve focus, awareness, and self control. Research from 163 studies suggests that meditation can even battle the effects of stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as reduce blood pressure. If you follow just one part of this routine, this should definitely be it! You can start with as little as 5 minutes every morning. I suggest starting out with an app like HoloSync or HeadSpace.
- I write in my Gratitude Journal while sipping on some organic coffee. This may sound funny to some of you, but one of the greatest ways to start each day in a positive mindset is to be thankful for what you have. Our brains are designed to focus on the negative – we can thank evolution for this as well. Back in the day, a lack of attention to the not so pleasant could’ve gotten you killed. Now-a-days, however, it more than likely just makes you act like a huge d*ck. Every morning I write down 5 things I am grateful for. These are 5 specific events from the previous day that affected me in a positive way. You must write them down, and they must be specific. For example, one of my entries from today’s journal was “I am thankful for getting to spend time with my mom and sister this weekend.” The bottom line is that we all have things in our lives to be grateful for. If we spend more time focusing on what we have, instead of what we don’t, we are more likely to enter each day emitting positive energy, and therefore, attracting more of it.
- I write down my daily affirmations in the same journal. This is basically my agenda for the day. I write down what I need to get done, whether it be physically or mentally. For instance, this morning one affirmation was to “deliver the best possible service to all of my clients,” while another was just to “be charismatic.” Writing down your agenda ensures that you begin the day focused, and reinforces positive determined thinking.
- Short term visualizations. Once I’ve written down my objectives for the day, I visualize myself performing each and every one of them. Visualization techniques have long been used by individuals ranging from professional athletes to Fortune 500 CEOs. Scientists believe that our brains perceive imaginary and real life circumstances in much the same way. By imagining something before it has actually happened, we stimulate the same neural networks as if we were actually performing that task. This reinforces in our own mind our ability to not only perform the task at hand, but to excel at it with extreme focus and clarity.
- Long term visualizations. Once I’m done with my short term visualizations, I move on to my long term visualizations. On the front page of my journal I have a list of long term goals I would like to accomplish. I read through each one and I visualize myself actually doing them. This not only helps me keep my “eyes on the prize,” but to always keep a long term vision for my future in my mind throughout the day.
- I read something inspiring. This just fires me up. One of my favorites is Teddy Roosevelt’s Man In The Arena. Also, a great book to buy and keep close by is Bruce Lee’s Striking Thoughts – it’s filled with many of his maxims on how to live life fully. Whatever your choice, just make sure it fills you with the motivation and desire you need to conquer the day ahead.
This is how I start most of my mornings.
All in all, the process (including my thirty minute meditation) takes about 1 hour.
If you think this is too long to spend in the morning, I encourage you to still give it a try but start with just 5 minutes of meditation, along with all the other exercises – this should cut your time down significantly.
I’m certain, however, that once you see and feel the impact that this routine has on your mindset and on your life, that you will be encouraged to devote more of your mornings to these habits.
Mental clarity, along with a positive attitude and extreme focus, will help you get more out of life and accomplish goals and tasks with greater efficiency.
The 30 minutes to 1 hour you spend in the morning will pale in comparison to the amount of time you save eliminating the nonessential from your life in the long run.
Mahatma Gandhi, one of my heroes, said it best,
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
Start building the mindset and habits that take you from living an ordinary life to one full of positivity, fulfillment, joy, and success.
Don’t follow your destiny.
One habit at a time.