“Some people dream of success, while other people get up every morning and make it happen.” — Wayne Huizenga
I really appreciate that quote. I truly believe your morning habits set the stage for the remainder of the day. For example, if you keep hitting snooze until you realize that you’re running late, how do you think the rest of your day will be? You all “get it.” You all “know.” But, do you DO the actions that support the habits you know to be correct?
You may forget an important document at home. Since you didn’t have time to eat breakfast, you grab a doughnut. And, it totally slipped your mind that you have an important meeting today — which you totally didn’t prepare for.
If that’s your version of “Groundhog Day,” then how successful and productive do you think you’ll be? That’s why top performers get the most out of their mornings. And, they do so by embracing the following 8 habits.
1. Wake from a good night’s sleep.
According to a global sleep survey conducted by Royal Phillips, 44% of respondents reported that their sleep has worsened over the last five years. What’s more, nearly 1 in 3 Americans sleep fewer than six hours per night.
Why’s that a problem? Well, it’s recommended that we get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. If not, that can lead to a myriad of problems including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, stroke, cognitive decline. As a consequence, this can lead to death.
While not trying to make light of this, it’s obviously impossible to be a high performer when you’re in poor health physically and mentally. That’s why the most successful people prioritize sleep. But, if you’re having trouble, the CDC suggests embracing the following habits:
- Be consistent. That means going to bed and waking up at the same time — even on weekends.
- Keep your bedroom dark, cool, and quiet — kind of like a cave.
- Ban electronics, like TVs and smartphones, from your bedroom.
- Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime.
- Engage in physical activity during the day.
I’d also add implementing a relaxing evening routine. Some ideas would be meditating, reading, journaling, taking a bath, or reviewing tomorrow’s schedule. These are all simple and effective activities that clear your mind and help you chill out.
2. Find some quietude.
“Silence is one of the best ways to immediately reduce stress while increasing your self-awareness,” Hal Elrod wrote in the Morning Miracle. “And gaining the clarity that will allow you to maintain your focus on your goals, priorities, and what’s important for your life, each and every day.”
I know what you’re thinking. How can I possibly achieve such a feat? Well, Leo Babuta recommends waking-up before everyone else in your home. But, if you’re not a morning person, you can find silence later at night when everyone else is asleep.
How should you spend your quiet time? You could take a walk, read, write, visualize, or meditate. Personally, I’m also a fan of not using my phone as an alarm clock. Instead, I use an old school alarm clock so that I don’t get sucked into the rabbit hole of emails, social media, or whatever nonsense that’s out there.
3. Smile and think of something positive.
Is this the first thing that’s on your mind as you groggily open your eyes early in the morning? Probably not. But, it’s been found that smiling releases those feel-good neurotransmitters known as dopamine and endorphins. For the uninitiated, this will lift your mood and kick your day off on the right side of the bed.
Furthermore, cracking a smile releases serotonin which will relax your body and lower your heart rate and blood pressure. And, it can also fortify your immune system.
Additionally, think of something positive. It could be reflecting on what you’re grateful for or something that you’re excited about, such as an upcoming vacation. You could also recite uplifting quotes like this gem from the Dalai Lama; “Every day, think as you wake up: today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it.”
4. Make your bed.
“If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day,” said Naval Adm. William McRaven, ninth commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, in his commencement address at the University of Texas at Austin. “It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.”
“By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed,” he added. “Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.”
“If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right,” said McRaven.
“And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.”
5. Find your own rhythm.
After you make your bed you may be asking,” What’s next?” Here’s the problem with that. Making these micro-decisions every morning could put you into a collision course with decision fatigue.
If you weren’t aware, that’s a big no-no. After all, it can lead to procrastination, avoidance, indecision, and impulsivity.
To avoid this, create your ideal morning routine. For some, that could be slamming a glass of water, going for a jog, eating breakfast, and taking a shower. Others may prefer to brush their teeth, stretch, and do something creative.
Another way to make fewer decisions? Plan the night before. For me, that means picking out my meals and outfit, as well as prioritizing my to-do-list.
6. Craft results-oriented affirmations.
I’ll be direct here. Affirmations are the bomb! Besides combating self-deprecating thoughts, they can boost your motivation. Also, studies show that they can reduce stress, increase creativity, and improve your problem-solving skills.
However, Elrod suggests that you affirm your commitments — opposed to who you are or who you want to be. And, you can accomplish this by answering four simple questions:
- What are you committed to?
- Why is this important to you?
- What activities will help you succeed?
- When will commit to doing these activities?
If that’s not your cup of tea, then at least set your intention for the day. It’s a simple way to keep you focused on what truly matters.
7. Do an “hour of power.”
“Motivation doesn’t last forever, so you need to replenish yours regularly,” writes Lianne Martha Maiquez Laroya for Lifehacker. And, here’s a little secret I have for you, high performers are well aware of this. As such, “they dedicate ample time to increase their supply.”
Moreover, when you’re emotionally invested in something, you’re more motivated to see it through. In order to accomplish this, block out a power hour. While you can spend this time however you please, I’d stick with things that get you pumped. Examples include listening to a playlist or inspirational anecdotes, watching TED Talks, or reading empowering quotes.
8. Don’t isolate yourself.
Prolonged isolation is connected to cognitive decline. Even if you have a family and collaborate with others, it’s still important to put these relationships first. When you do, you’ll be healthier and happier — at least according to a famous 79-year Harvard study.
Best of all? You can easily achieve this by doing things like eating breakfast with your family. And, when you get to work, greet your co-workers as they enter or a daily stand-up meeting.