Victory Begins in the Morning: How to Start Your Day With Intention and Purpose
Have a good day!
It seems so easy, doesn't it? But how many times do we try to pump ourselves up to do something great, only to find ourselves farting around on Fakebook at 10 am, wondering when the motivation to really work will finally arrive, telling ourselves we're grateful to even have a job?
And the cycle repeats itself day after day...
If that sounds like you, this pamphlet may be helpful to you. You see, motivation is great, but without a system in place to channel that motivation, it's not long before it becomes discouragement -- even despair if this cycle repeats itself too many times.
What you need is a set routine for your morning. Something you anticipate, something you look forward to happening, and eventually your mind and body literally aches for if you don't do it.
This episode will give some guidance and suggestions on setting your own personal morning routine. I use many examples of my own routine, but they're just examples. Over time, you'll eventually find what works best for you.
Just remember to keep it simple, remember the 3 M's, and you'll do just fine!
It All Begins the Night Before
If you're going to have a good morning, it's important to properly prepare your body and mind for a good night of sleep.
These simple steps will help point you in the right direction.
Avoid screen time, especially right before going to sleep. The activity and blue light in the screen will trigger the release of cortisol, which is also know as the "stress hormone". It will take longer to produce melatonin, the "sleep hormone."
If you're having a hard time going to sleep, looking at your iPhone is the last thing you should be doing.
Don't go to bed angry. If you and a friend or spouse have a dispute, try to resolve it. Or at least resolve that you've done what you can for that day and you'll discuss it again in the morning. Anger triggers a cortisol release and you'll have a hard time getting to sleep. If and when you finally do, it will be fitful and sporadic.
Before going to bed, take a few minutes to engage in some self-care. If you're a spiritual person, thank your maker for a good day, as well as the restful night of sleep you're about to have. Read a spiritual or uplifting text for a few minutes and reflect on what you've just read. Share one thing, either with your spouse/partner or with yourself, for which you're grateful.
Touching, kissing, making love with your spouse/partner releases a hormone called serotonin, which is called the "feel good hormone." If you sleep alone, try to make any type of physical contact with another person. Even a handshake or pat on the back can be very beneficial.
Take a few deep breaths while sitting up on the bed, or on a chair. 4 counts in, 8 counts out, at ~60 beats per minute.
Breathe through your nose as much as possible. Try using a mouth tape to keep your mouth closed while sleeping.
Track your sleep with the Sleep Cycle app. It will give you a "sleep score" allowing you to track your sleep. An Oura Ring is a more expensive option if you fancy yourself a legit biohacker.
When You Wake Up
Hopefully you've had a good night of sleep, and you've woken up refreshed, rested and ready to face the day. These tips will help you get the day started right.
Avoid screen time for at least an hour.
Don't check your emails or do anything that will stress you out.
Try to wake up as the sun rises. This will set your circadian rhythm in a positive way.
Limit your intake of caffeine. One or two cups of coffee at most. If you're dependent on coffee to get yourself going, you're not sleeping well.
Don't eat right away. Do this morning routine before eating, and when you do eat, have a couple pieces of fruit. You'll find you're much more focused and alert when you're hungry. Thus able to tackle those important, pressing needs first off. Think that will put you in a good mood?
"The 3 M's": Meditation, Mindfulness, Mobility
It's not as difficult as you might think. Although there are many forms of meditation, some of which take months if not years to master, at its core it's simply focusing on one thing and not allowing other thoughts in.
Here's a very simple meditation I do every single morning:
Sit in an upright but relaxed position with your eyes closed
Listen to the seconds tick on the clock, or on a timer on a device (you need the ticks, don't just set a timer) and count to 300
When any thought other than the ticking tries to enter your mind (and it will try) push it aside. Literally say in your mind, "I'm busy, I'll get to you later."
Try simple breathing exercises: 4 ticks inhale; 8 ticks exhale. If a breathing exercise causes you to lose focus on the ticks, stop
Always focus on the ticking; don't allow any external noises to cause you to lose focus on it
That's a 5-minute meditation.
It's a far cry from an Ayahuasca retreat in the Andean Mountains, but it gets the job done. I guarantee the count to 300 will feel like it's nothing, and you'll probably want to go for more.
This can be broken down into 4 tasks:
Reading a spiritual or inspirational text
Expressing gratitude is as simple as saying out loud, "I'm grateful for ___________". It doesn't need to be anything profound. It can be something as simple as, "I'm grateful for the sunrise," or "I'm grateful for my wife's sense of humor."
An affirmation is saying aloud something you know to be true. It is not something you wishwas true. It does you no good to "affirm" you're a millionaire if you're not a millionaire. However, you can affirm that you're doing the things you need to do to eventually be a millionaire, if that's your goal. If so, your affirmations might sound something like this:
I'm wise with the money I earn
I make sensible business decisions, keeping the big picture in mind
I deal honestly and fairly with vendors and clients, even if it means a short-term loss
Fill in the blanks appropriately depending on your goals in life
Every morning, I read the Bible. One chapter from the Book of Proverbs, usually the chapter corresponding with the date of the month, as well as another passage from the New Testament.
(BTW, I recorded the Book of Proverbs for people to listen in their car or at the gym. You can download it here.)
I'm not reading a business book, fiction, nor anything that will help me achieve any earthly goals or give earthly pleasure. It's purely for my spiritual health.
Another exercise routine I like to do is called the 7-Minute Workout. It actually takes over 7:50 to complete, but that's what it's called.
It consists of 12 exercises wherein you exert all-out effort for 30 seconds, and rest for 10 seconds between rep. All you need is a bit of floor space, a chair and a wall, so it's great for when you're traveling.
Here's a diagram of each of the exercises as well as a video with some amazing music and Yours Truly giving cues on when to start and stop.
Light exercise in the morning will help you feel good about yourself, your day, life in general. It allows you to burn off tension you may be feeling from the stressors of life we all face. It will also help you cope with those stressors in a positive way. What seems insurmountable without exercise becomes a mere obstacle to overcome with exercise.
If you didn't get all that, get this...
My morning routine is the most important part of my day. When I don't do it, I simply do not operate at anywhere near peak performance. When I do it, I feel like a million bucks -- beforetaxes.
If you take the information in this short pamphlet and apply it to your own life, I'm sure you'll see an improvement in your life, your relationships, your work, and your vision for the future.
Here's a brief recap of what we've discussed:
Your morning begins the night beforeAvoid screen time at night, and first thing in the morningWake up when the sun comes out to optimize your circadian rhythmAvoid a heavy meal in the morningRemember the 3 M's: Meditation, Mindfulness, Mobility
I hope this little pamphlet gives some helpful advice and tips on how to start your morning the best possible way. If you have any feedback, or any info you think would be useful for a future edition of the pamphlet, send me an email!