How I Developed a Morning Routine To Set Myself Up for Success
If you Google the topic of this blog you will get more than 85,000,000 results.
Don’t bother to read them.
Over the last dozen or so years I’ve read most of them, and I’ve made a ton of mistakes in my work to figure out what the “perfect” morning routine is.
My first mistake was thinking I’d be able to create a morning routine that would work for any & every particular “type” of person.
There isn’t one.
The truth is there is not a “particular type of person” because they broke the mold when they made you, and me, and the guy next to you, and that annoying dude on the subway, and the old lady who you always have to honk at when the light turns green because she may or may not have fallen asleep while waiting.
The truth is even if you read all or most of the 85 Million search results regarding “morning routine for success” there’s not a perfect answer there for you.
The key is experimentation.
There’s good news, though.
I’ve created a shortcut.
This blog and the one that will post next week are intended to fast-track you past all that reading, research, and take you straight to just shy of the finish line.
I’m giving you all of the ingredients of a positive routine that will help obliterate the “wrong side of the bed syndrome” and set you on the path for success.
When you’ve developed the perfect routine for yourself you will still have bad days; however, they will be much fewer and farther between.
Here’s a tool I’ve developed to help get you on the path to your own successful routine; request it and we’ll email it to you lickety-split.
Why Not Just Copy Routines of Successful People?
Because you’re not a carbon copy of that person: you have your own unique biology.
Yes, it’s totally fine to get ideas about what other people do from any of those 85 million links.
It’s not a terrible idea if you’re just looking for ideas, but don’t do it if you’re just out to copy someone else.
Success for you has a starting point, and that starting point is understanding your unique needs.
The reason ready-made routines don’t work is that their success hinges on your unique personality traits.
Understanding your personality is key.
Here’s a previous blog post about the importance of understanding your personality and the science behind it, and here’s a link to GILD’s “360 Me Personality and Styles Assessment”, a comprehensive tool that can give you a deeper understanding of who you are, your communication styles, and how you’re interpreted by the outside world. (That last part is magical!)
Starting Point for a Successful Routine
What is the first thing you need in order to have a positive and successful day?
Another 5 minutes of sleep?
Before any of those things matter, you have to have rest.
The first place to start for a successful morning routine is by examining your evenings.
Positive evening rest begins with setting yourself up for success.
When I was in the endless cycle of trying out other people’s routines (copying them… and failing) I read that several super-successful people have technology-free bedrooms: no television, phones, tablets, etc.
So I did that.
It didn’t work for me and the rhythm of my life.
My routine includes an electronics charging station in another area of our home; however, there is a television in my bedroom.
Our family loves snuggling in our king-sized bed with a bunch of pillows and cuddly blankets watching movies.
We may do this on a Sunday afternoon, or in the early part of our evening routine (you’ll get a better picture of what that is shortly…), so it just doesn’t work for our QT snuggle + movie time to nix the bedroom TV.
Understanding that my banishing the television for a short time was not a positive move when it came to family relationships and our “physical affection” shared love language (reference: The 5 Love Languages), we brought it back and I asked the question I should have asked in the beginning: “What is it about having a television in the bedroom that those super-successful people found counter-productive?”
There are many answers including that your eyes need a break from screens for a certain amount of time before sleep to allow your optic nerve to calm, and that filling your head with different types of messages just before slumber makes a very rough (and unproductive) evening.
Understanding just those two of myriad reasons for not having a television in our bedroom allowed me to put into place behaviors to mimic the benefits of a TV-free room without actually having one.
I hope you see where I’m going with this…
The Key to Figuring Out What Will Work for You
If there is an element from the routine of a highly successful person you want to try out, first ask “what is the reason this is part of his/her routine?”
For example, Tony Robbins takes a shock-cold swim (57 degrees Fahrenheit) every morning.
Many reasons including long-term physical benefits of improved lymphatic & cardio-vascular circulation, reduced muscle inflammation, triggering a flood of mood-boosting neurotransmitters, and metabolic boost that aids in weight loss and maintenance.
I’m not a fan of being cold and wet at the same time (I’m a huge fan of boiling hot salt baths) but all of those benefits could sway me in that direction… I’m not there yet, but I’m thinking about it.
Understanding the reason behind TR’s 57-degree swim can inform alternate methods of reaching the same benefits.
It starts with questions that will then spark ideas for experiments.
What You Need to Remember About Experiments
Thomas Edison once said that he hadn’t failed… he’d simply found 10,000 ways that don’t work.
That’s an important thought to hold near and dear to your heart and mind as you are experimenting.
Mr. Edison was not attached to the outcome of each of his experiments.
Neither should you be.
If you are attached to the outcome of each individual experiment, with every finding of a way that does not work you are punching yourself in your energetic and mental gut.
Experiments exist so you can find what doesn’t work, and through a process of elimination determine what does.
What My Experiments Revealed
The reason it took me so many years to find a positive morning routine that worked is that I was not starting at the right spot.
I was not starting with my end goal.
I knew I wanted a positive routine, but I had not slowed down enough to ask myself “to what end?”
So that is why I insist you must begin at the end: both mentally and physically.
Mentally take stock of exactly why you want to create this positive routine; What is it exactly that you want to accomplish?
Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
Physically begin at the end of your day planning for a successful morning.
The beginning of this blog entry details that we’re taking this in two parts.
Part one is “the end.”
The End is the Beginning of My Successful Routine
My successful morning routine begins around 5:30 pm.
That’s when I begin to wind down and leave the business and busyness of the day behind me.
Overhead lights in our home are turned off; only lamplight remains.
Screens start to disappear as our phones, tablets, and laptops are placed in their charging stations and put to sleep for the night.
Smells fill the house as dinner is coming together in the kitchen.
Face to face communication is more plentiful as all those screens have been banished from in front of our faces.
I run a hot, hot, hot bath with oil infused Epsom salts and down 20 ounces of water.
Tomorrow’s schedule is reviewed to make sure everything is in line and that if there are early sessions, I’ve adjusted my wake-up time to still allow what I need to do for myself (my morning routine) before anyone else gets my attention.
Homework is done and it’s bath or shower time for everyone, then dinner and snuggle time together.
We have a television curfew – when that screen goes off for good, and the rest of the evening includes conversation, reading, journaling, and/or meditation & quiet time.
Our positive morning has to start with setting ourselves up for a restful night’s sleep.
That is the one element I know every successful morning routine needs…
It’s up to you to determine the timing and elements that are necessary for you to have the successful night’s sleep to set you up to be prepared for the successful morning to come.
If you would like to begin a guided (major short-cut) journey to developing a routine that works for you and helps support a successful life, here’s that link for our free workbook.
Also, if you are going to begin this journey, I highly recommend you have a journal. This is the one I use and it works for me because it has sections, is durable and can have pages added when I’ve filled up what’s there already.
Here’s a link to a previous blog post about journaling and how to do it in a productive way that doesn’t suck tons of time out of your life.
It can help you in a lot of ways – give journaling a chance – you don’t actually have to write long-form.
It’s so simple!
If the time management part of this is what has you stumped…
GILD has something to help you with that as well: Check out our Freedom By Design time management & boundaries study here.
Next week we’ll dive deeper into how to set your routine and I’ll also spell out for you the basic framework of mine & give you some extra tools to help you on your journey to creating your own.