Go into every single day a better version of who you were when the alarm clock went off that morning. – Hal Elrod
Here’s a thing about me: I’m a night owl. I can wake up early (before 7am) if I’m forced to, but it’s never by choice. I’m really only functional by 9, with a (second) cup of coffee in hand.
That being said, I’m fascinated by the concept of the morning routine. Well, really I am fascinated by any concept that is nearly universally practiced and preached by the most successful people in the world. And morning routines consistently are.
I once read Laura Vanderkam’s What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. I don’t eat breakfast (I should probably add it to my morning routine), but I loved the idea. A lot of researchers—like Laura—recommend getting up early and using those early morning hours (while the rest of the world is sleeping) to catch up on those things that are most important to you.
While I’ve always seen the value in that—especially if you have to leave your house to work for someone else for several hours of the day—I also felt that it was more important to recognize my idiosyncrasies (such as my nocturnal tendencies) and work with them, not against them.
I also assumed, once I began working for myself, that I wouldn’t have to wake up any earlier anyway. If I could get moving by 9, and I wanted to work on my memoir instead of checking email first thing, well it was my prerogative whether or not I did just that.
It’s so cute how I thought that. That’s never the way it goes, is it?
The reason the most successful people establish and maintain their morning routines before breakfast is because it gives them a head start. It allows them to focus on those projects or relationships that are most important to them, while their willpower is fresh, their optimism is high, and their attention isn’t being pulled in several other directions.
It doesn’t matter if you work at a traditional 9-to-5 or you work for yourself, whether you’re single or you have five kids—there will always be someone or something else that wants your attention. Something that is begging to be your focus, instead of the something or someone to which you planned to dedicate your time, energy, and attention.
As a newbie soloprenuer, I’ve added some good habits to my mornings: writing in my gratitude journal, meditating for at least 10 minutes, and reviewing my quarterly goals—but all too often, I’ve often fallen into the same routine I was used to before. I check email first thing, put out “fires”, check social media, and use my “morning routine” merely as a way to remember to take my vitamins and drink a green smoothie every morning.
But my focus is rarely on the projects and people I value most. And, in April, I want to change that.
* * *
Sure, I could be successful enough just following the basic habits I’ve developed—I drink a smoothie, floss my teeth, and go to spin class three times a week, after all. (To clarify, I do the first two things DAILY.) I want my morning routine to not just encourage good habits, but to take me closer to my goals, though.
And, “answer all of the emails” isn’t one of them. More power to ‘ya, if it’s one of yours.
So, which activities are the most important for me? These are a start:
– Creative writing—and pitching said writing for publication
– Writing and sharing relevant, valuable content on this blog
– Find a healthy balance between my creative writing and the writing that pays me
Knowing that, I crafted the following morning routine (following the advice of both Vanderkam and The Miracle Morning author, Hal Elrod). The first hour (at least) of my day will be spent doing the following:
Jenna’s Morning Routine
– Meditating for 10 (or more!) minutes
– Writing in gratitude journal
– Focusing on positive affirmations: Here’s one example of mine: I am a talented, published, well-respected writer. I write to share personal experiences that provide value in two ways: by helping people through similar situations, and by proving that everyone’s story is worth telling. I’m a great writer, when I focus on how I can best serve my target reader, and I will write daily to curate the stories I have to share.
– Practicing creative visualization: For me, this would include visualize writing and publishing with ease, without writers’ block or fear of a critical audience.
– Exercising: I’ve long wanted to incorporate yoga into my exercise practice, and it seems a quick, efficient exercise that I can add to my daily routine.
– Journaling: Loosely following the concept of Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages, I plan to use part of my morning routine to simply free-write.
– Reading a personal development book: Right now, it’s (not-so-coincidentally) Hal Elrod’s The Miracle Morning!
And, the only rules?
– Wake up at 6am to start (no snooze button!)
– Only washing my face & brushing my teeth may come first
– Weekends count—no taking Saturday & Sunday off
And my one goal for April? To implement and maintain it daily.
What about you? What’s your morning routine? Your April goal(s)? Let me know in the comments below!