I think we can all agree that 2020 has been full of change and ambiguity. Some of you may be so excited for the fourth quarter (and 2020) to be over. For others, you might be thinking, holy cow, it is almost the end of the year! I got to get to work if I am going to achieve my goals.
I hope that we can take these last couple of months and make the best of them – that we can put ourselves in positions to have a great finish for the year and a great start in 2021. And with that in mind, episode 7 of the Elite Achievement podcast is all about morning routine. I will not be the first coach to talk about a morning routine, nor am I the first one to recommend a morning routine. But that’s ok. Because what I want to highlight is why a morning routine is so important and significant. Maybe more so during this unpredictable year.
I’ll share my morning routine and how I’ve evolved it over the years, as well as why I do the things that I do in the morning to set my day up for success. Lastly, I’ll offer some tips and ideas on successfully executing a morning routine with consistency.
Another reason I am so excited to talk about a morning routine is that in October of last year, I signed up for Rachel Hollis’ 90 Day Challenge. The whole point of this 90-day challenge was to do certain activities consistently to build a habit. The focus was on ending the year strong and setting your next year up for success. This 90 Day Challenge helped me solidify a new morning routine and engage consistently in it.
I credit that morning routine with giving me the clarity, confidence and courage that I needed to launch my own business. I was leaving a familiar career and that morning routine helped me believe in myself.
What is a Morning Routine (And Why Do You Need One)?
But first, let’s take a step back. For those of you who haven’t heard of a morning routine or aren’t familiar with the concept, I describe a morning routine as a series of activities and practices performed regularly to set your day up for success. There are a lot of different activities that you can combine into a successful morning routine. But what’s important is that you consistently practice habits and rituals daily that help you get your mind right.
One of the main benefits of a morning routine is that it helps you achieve what American psychologist Carol Dweck calls a growth mindset. In her work, she studied a growth mindset and a fixed mindset. Individuals with a growth mindset can overcome adversity, they’re able to bounce back and they are more in control of their destinies and goals.
Another benefit of a morning routine is that it creates a level of intentionality. We are bombarded with emails and alerts on our cell phones all day. There are so many distractions in our world so having this morning routine creates a sense of peace and intentionality. It gives you a chance to start your day in the way that you want to start your day, versus starting your day in a reactive manner.
A morning routine can provide you with a sense of completion before you’ve even tackled some of your harder tasks or projects. And this is significant because momentum really can fuel our progress. I find it’s a lot easier to focus on business development and to do some of the more difficult tasks of running my business after I’ve just crushed a morning run. I feel great. I feel energized. I feel accomplished. And this all happened before I’ve even started my workday.
A morning routine helps me feel satisfied and fulfilled. I think so often we look externally for satisfaction. I know I’ve done it! I thought that buying a new handbag would make me feel really happy and fulfilled. And, it does momentarily. But ultimately, I have found that as I’ve engaged in a consistent morning routine over the last year, I am far more fulfilled and far more satisfied. And I haven’t had to rely on external factors for that satisfaction.
This year has required us all to change, pivot and think differently. And, we’ve all had our various levels of disappointment in 2020. My morning routine was there for me every day and gave me a sense of control in what can sometimes feel like a very chaotic world.
My Morning Routine Snapshot
I want to share my morning routine with you because I’m a huge fan of examples. I find it so much easier to execute something if I have an example to follow. So, I’m hoping you get some ideas or some inspiration for your own morning routine by reading about mine.
That being said, it’s important to realize that a morning routine is highly personal. If you try to recreate my exact morning routine, you might not get the same results or the same feelings of satisfaction that I do because I have built my morning routine up over the years. I’ve included intentional practices into my morning routine to align with items on my development journey.
I encourage you to think about your goals. And think about your development plan as you start designing your morning routine. I also want to note, as I describe the seven steps that are part of my morning routine, that it hasn’t always been seven steps. This routine evolved from when I got serious about a morning routine last year, and it’s also evolved throughout the year as I’ve been practicing my morning routine. So, if this feels very overwhelming, I want to remind you, it didn’t start with all of these activities or practices. Start with what feels right for you and go from there.
The first thing I do in my morning routine is read my short-term vision statement. Check out this post to learn more about a short-term vision statement! Each quarter, I write a new short-term vision statement. And in this vision statement, I include my goals, the beliefs that I need to have to achieve these goals, the habits I need to build and the activities I need to execute to put me in a position for goal achievement. I also describe the type of person I want to be, the kind of wife I want to be for my husband and the kind of mother I want to be for my daughter. I’ll include fitness goals and focuses on my well-being. I’ll also throw in a couple of motivational quotes or motivational sayings that I’ve read in books or heard in podcasts.
Every morning, I read this statement over the course of a quarter. Reading this statement stops me from thinking about negative things first thing in the morning. It stops me from thinking about all the things I have to do that I might not want to do. And it reminds me of what I’m building and who I want to become. The other thing I love about reading this statement first thing in the morning is that it helps me feel energy.
As I reflect on some of my past vision statements, I’ve included things such as “I am confident,” “I am vulnerable,” and “I am fierce.” I think that continually reading those statements over and over every day has helped me build confidence. It’s helped me build the courage to continue to produce content that I hope is impactful for you and your growth and development journey.
One of my favorite lines from a past vision statement is, “I told fear to eff off.” I know that’s a little abrupt, but I needed that message daily as I thought about launching my own business. I needed to remind myself that fear was going to be present and that I needed to persevere and push through that fear, regardless of how I felt. So, I love starting my day by reading this vision statement. It’s a powerful mindset tool.
The second part of my morning routine is a workout. I absolutely love working out and if I’m being honest, I have been a morning workout person for years. In my opinion, there’s no better way to start your day than getting a workout in. It pumps up my energy and clears my mind. I get some of my best ideas during my workouts. I’ve found that as disciplined as I am with working out, I still have a greater success rate of following through if I lay my clothes out the night before. And then I also plan out what kind of workout I’m going to do. If I’m going for a run, I think about my running route and pick my playlist. If I’m doing a yoga practice, I think about whether I will do a sculpt routine or flow. Planning my workouts in advance removes making decisions in the morning.
The third element of my morning routine…meditation is new this year. I am still working on building the habit of meditating consistently. This is the element of the morning routine that is the most unnatural for me. I walk fast. I talk fast. I think fast. And so, forcing myself to sit down, slow down and focus on my breath is really challenging. And that’s exactly why I’m so passionate about becoming consistent with meditation.
For me, meditating is about being more present and staying in the now. I tend to overthink and think about the future. I also tend to think about the past and ruminate. And I really want to be more present to be a great coach for my clients, an awesome mama for my little girl, and a really focused and present wife for my husband. I also want to be more present, so I enjoy life!
So, I’m working on meditating. One of the things that is helping me tremendously is tracking the days that I meditate. I got this idea from Yale’s The Science of Well-Being course I completed during the early weeks of quarantine. This course was offered for free through a platform called Coursera and it was awesome! I learned a ton about happiness. And one of our assignments was to engage in a happiness behavior. The teacher created a tracking system, so I printed it off and put it on my refrigerator. I had my daughter color in the dots every time I meditated, and my frequency increased dramatically.
When we moved, I threw the tracking away and didn’t create a new one. And I found that my consistency with meditation dropped off. So once again, I am back to tracking. And I think that’s a really helpful way to build up a new habit.
The fourth practice of my morning routine is to journal gratitude. Last October, I committed to journaling gratitude for 90 days and I’ve grown to love this focus on appreciation. It’s interesting because if you Google the benefits of practicing gratitude, you’ll find that there are many health benefits. It helps reduce stress and gives you the ability to appreciate the positives in negative situations.
There are some days when I’m writing in my gratitude journal that I am thankful and grateful for a cup of coffee, especially right now with all the pumpkin-flavored coffee. And then there are other days when I am detailing these incredibly impactful client situations. Through this, I noticed that one of the things that have helped me with gratitude is not worrying if what I’m grateful for is too big or too small. I’m building this habit of noticing the everyday things in my life – and of course, the big monumental things in my life – and making a note of what I’m thankful for.
The fifth practice is another practice that I learned from Rachel Hollis and I call it the ten-ten-one. I am sure she has a different name for this practice, and you can hear all about it in her Rise podcast, episode 72, if you want to explore it further.
The basis of her daily practice is that she has a ten-year vision. And from that ten-year vision, she outlines ten dreams and one goal and writes them down every day. I started doing this last October as part of that 90 Day Challenge. Of course, over a year, the goals have changed as I’ve achieved them, and some of the dreams have evolved. But it’s incredible! Now when I write number five on my list, which is “I host a top-rated weekly podcast,” I know I’m on my way. And I don’t know if I would be here at all if I weren’t doing this practice every day and writing it down. Somehow, the universe is aligning to put me in the right situations or give me the right ideas or the right level of courage to start moving in the direction of these dreams. It’s an incredible journal exercise and it keeps you connected to the bigger picture vision. And, it keeps you focused on that one goal that’s going to help you start getting closer to those dreams.
For step six, I read a book called The Daily Reader by John Maxwell. And what I love about this book is every day, there is one simple page packed full of leadership lessons. So, it feels good to be working on my own personal growth and development, even if it’s one page that I’m reading.
One of the interesting things is that last week, I cleared off my desk and put this book in a drawer. I noticed that a few days passed, and I hadn’t been reading my daily reader. This is your reminder that having your book or journal on your desk in front of you is going to wildly increase your ability to follow through. It’s like that saying, “out of sight out of mind.” So that’s a follow-through strategy – if you want to build better habits, are the things that you want to engage in visually accessible? Are they right in front of you? Are you setting your environment up for success?
The final element of my morning routine is to read for ten minutes. I always set a reading goal every year. I love reading growth and development books. I love reading books that are focused on helping women get ahead professionally and advancing their careers. And right now, I’m reading the book Atomic Habits. It’s awesome. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly, highly recommend it.
But even with my love of books, I started to notice that I’m pretty sleepy if I’m trying to read before I go to bed at night. And so, I thought, let me add reading to my morning routine so I can power through more books in a year.
Now you might be noticing that I have a lot of stuff I try to get done in the morning – and you might be wondering how long this actually takes! Depending on the length of my workout, engaging in my all in morning routine steps – one through seven – takes about 90 minutes. I’m not doing everything in my morning routine seven days a week. Spoiler alert – I typically engage in my full routine three days a week and I find that one of the weekend days is a great day to do it because I have a bit more free time.
I’ve learned that for me to be consistent and to really appreciate the benefits of this routine, I need a little bit more flexibility on days when I have early client meetings or when mornings don’t go as planned. So, on the days where I’m choosing not to engage in my full morning routine, I’ll do a mini routine. I’ve given myself a little bit of grace and a little bit of flexibility to engage in a mini session where I’m pulling together three or four of the steps and helping set my day up for success.
If you’re ready to start engaging in a morning routine, I would recommend you start with one thing and grow consistency. I think we get ourselves into trouble when we try to go from zero to all in without building some foundational habits.
So, pick the one thing that’s going to help you achieve your goals and build to consistency. Going back to the book, Atomic Habits, Clear points out that habits are built based on consistency, not on time. So, it might take you longer than 30 days or even 60 days for a habit to start to feel automatic.
Pick one habit, build consistency, and then layer on the next and layer on the next to build your morning routine.
There are a couple of ways you can set yourself up for success if you’re adding new elements to your morning routine.
Identifying one new habit or behavior to perform in the morning can be a game changer for your growth mindset and can position you for end of the year success.
Until next time goal achievers, keep celebrating your weekly wins, identify the lessons you learn and work intentionally in the direction of your goals!