Morning is a quiet time when the worries, obligations and ‘to-dos’ of the day have not yet had the chance to weigh on you.
It is also the perfect time to fall into rituals that take care of the important but not necessarily urgent work of improving yourself.
Mornings are best because you still have the willpower to spare when trying to form positive new habits.
Also, self-work is easily pushed off during later parts of the day because there is no deadline, no sense of urgency to getting the task done.
Failing to spend focused time and energy renewing yourself has a dramatic affect on your productivity, happiness and health that are only easily seen in hindsight.
What are the best morning rituals?
The best ritual is one that helps bolster a deficit you may have in a certain area of your life. Decide your rituals by figuring out where you would like to grow.
The 4 big catch all areas people work on are mind, body, career and relationships.
You might already have an idea of what area of your life you want to improve.
Maybe you know you’re lacking in spirituality or you’ve been trying to lose that extra 20 pounds for the last decade.
In that case, trust your inclination and set a morning routine of reading scripture, meditating, running, doing yoga or whatever practice that will best tune up that part of your life.
While exercise might be the most common, look at the below picture to help decide what area of your life needs the most attention.
The Wheel of Life
The sectioned circle is called the ‘Wheel of Life’. It can help you decide what you need to work on in order to achieve more balance in all the important areas of your life.
Rate your level of satisfaction in eight areas of your life.
Zero means not satisfied and 10 means highly satisfied.
After rating yourself, connect the sections with a pen as shown in the example to the left.
You’re not looking for a certain score per se. The objective is to improve all the important areas of your life in a more balanced way…it’s about a smoother ride.
Do you excel in some areas of your life, but are unsatisfied in others?
Try to focus your morning routines on improving that low section before you attempt to achieve a 10 in another.
Life needs balance. An Iron Man athlete should not do more pushups in the morning if his relationships are strained. He should work on improving his relationships with phone calls, letters or time with loved ones.
5 steps to set your ideal morning routine
1. Track It
Before you try to start your morning routine. Take a week to track what you are currently doing with your time.
What time do you wake? How long does it take you to make breakfast, shower, dress, get the kids ready for school, commute, et cetera?
You can get away with only tracking the morning. However, it pays dividends to track the whole day. After all, what you do the night before affects your wake time and how refreshed you feel in the mornings.
It will be easier to tweak your routine to fit your new habit once you know how you are currently using your time.
Maybe that 20-minute shower could be cut to 10 or you could have the kids pack their backpacks and leave them on the hooks by the front door to avoid the frantic morning search for the homework.
2. Picture It.
Picture the perfect morning.
Is it a sunrise run around the lake followed by two eggs and a green breakfast smoothie?
Maybe it is a meditation followed by a sun salutation completed before the rest of the house rises.
Perhaps it is an hour of work on your side hustle that you hope to turn into a business one day.
Whatever you decide, picture your best morning routine in great detail. How will you feel? What values does this routine support? What long-term results will this habit create?
3. Plan it.
Where will you find the time? Is there anything you need to buy in order to facilitate the routine? Are there other people in your life that need to make adjustments because of this new practice? Get all of the logistics figured out up front.
4. Make it a habit.
Once it is planned, the only thing left is to take action and start making the routine a habit.
When skipping a day feels like you forgot something, the habit is set and it no longer requires much motivation or energy to take the action. At that point, feel free to add other desirable habits or up your ante on the current routine.
Remember to be easy on yourself…
Do not beat yourself up if the new morning routine doesn’t stick on the first few attempts.
It is that initial dip after the high motivation of starting that is the hardest part to get past.
The awesome long term benefits all hide behind that initial dip.
And bribery is encouraged…
“If I run every day this week, I get a massage on Friday!”
5. Mix it Up
Life changes. Priorities change. Just keep in mind that the importance of taking care of yourself in order to have a meaningful, productive, happy life.