“We all come into this world the same: naked, scared, and ignorant. After that grand entrance, the life we end up with is simply an accumulation of all the choices we make.” – Darren Hardy
While there is much in life that happens to us that is out of our control, we can take steps to make the most of each day. Since actions speak louder than words, it is what we do and not just our attitude that ultimately matters. Our daily habits have a way of building on themselves. While at first these daily choices we make may seem trivial, over time these add up.
Darren Hardy in his book The Compound Effect describes how far off an airplane can become if at first its nose is pointed just1% off-course. For example a six-hour flight from Los Angeles to New York can result in up to a 150-mile variance in where you would land, if upon takeoff and throughout your flight you were off your course by just 1%. As a result of this piloting error instead of landing in NYC you end up in Albany, NY or Dover, Delaware. While the plane and its pilot were 99% accurate in their heading, the tiny 1% error ultimately made the difference in where they landed. Small things matter and small habits applied time over time can yield big results.
Much has been written about how to get the most out of your day by employing a morning ritual. If you scan popular blogs today it seems that everyone is talking about how to start your day off right – and this means more than just eating breakfast or not. Anyone looking to get more out of their day can find a wealth of helpful tips and techniques. I am going to share 2- resources as well as my own rituals. Please share the daily habits that work best for you.
“How you wake up each day and your morning routine (or lack thereof) dramatically affects your levels of success in every single area of your life. Focused, productive, successful mornings generate focused, productive, successful days—which inevitably create a successful life—in the same way that unfocused, unproductive, and mediocre mornings generate unfocused, unproductive, and mediocre days, and ultimately a mediocre quality of life. By simply changing the way you wake up in the morning, you can transform any area of your life, faster than you ever thought possible.” – Hall Elrod
A great resource on the power of your morning routine is Hal Elrod’s The Miracle Morning in which he outlines a simple acronym for starting off your day right. Elrod literally died in a car wreck and then turned his life around by employing the a framework he calls S.A.V.E.R.S.[i], which is an acronym for the following:
S – Silence: This includes meditation or prayer and helps to start your day by calming your thoughts.
A – Affirmation: The power of positive thinking is employed here and attunes your thoughts for the day. Thoughts have power and can be manifest through actions.
V – Visualization: Imagine yourself accomplishing the goals. Your brain begins expecting the future to become a reality.
E – Exercise: Move your body. It doesn’t’ have to be too strenuous. A little exercise, even if it just walking, goes a long way.
R – Reading: Read positive material and learn from others.
S – Scribing: Writing down your thoughts helps you become self-aware.
Another source for tips on optimal living, regardless of the time of day, is Tim Ferriss. Tim recently recommended the following morning rituals[ii] that he tries to practice:
- Making your bed: It has been shown that this small act sets up future accomplishments.
- Meditation: Practicing meditation is a trait shared by many top performers.
- Hanging: Stretching the body and loosening up.
- Tea: Time choice for caffeine – not as strong as coffee. (I prefer the dark stuff myself)
- 5-Minute Journal : A great journal or app that has write down 3-things you are grateful for in the morning among other things.
Over the years I too have developed my own morning ritual, which now consists of the following:
- Waking up (naturally) and thank God :I rarely need an alarm clock these days. But when I do the first thing I do is to thank God for giving me another day. Expressing an attitude of gratitude is a great way to start the day. Realizing how blessed we are to experience another day brings wonder and appreciation.
- Make my bed: Like Ferriss mentioned, I too like to celebrate small accomplishments and making the bed is one thing I can do everyday. This starts off a chain of achievement that builds on itself. The compound effect starts small so the sooner you start the more it grows.
- Drinking lemon water: After sleeping your body is dehydrated and it is important to replenish your fluids. Adding lemon to water helps to alkalize your body, which is important for me since I drink a decent amount of coffee. (see next item) which can dehydrate you.
- Bulletproof coffee:[iii] Dave Asprey offers this enhanced coffee drink in which you add MCT oil and butter. I know at first I was skeptical of it but once I tried it I was hooked. The taste is great and the added fat helps ease any stomach issue for me and may even prolong the coffee’s effects on the brain – keeping me alert without being anxious
- Reading some spiritual text: Like Hal Elrod I find it a great way to help feed my brain by reading inspirational material. I used to watch the news in the morning but have now found that I am much more happy when I control the content I allow into my consciousness. I read daily bible verses on my iPhone as well as material offered by the Unity Church’s Daily Word amongst others.
- 5-minute journal[iv]: I use the iPhone app for this and love it. I write down 3-things I am grateful for, 3-things that would make today great, and a daily affirmation. I like the portability of the app – so if my morning routine needs to be cut short, I can fit this practice in later in the day.
- Meditation: Currently I meditate for 7-minutes in the morning. This works well for me now.
- Writing: I like to write first thing in the morning. I find that my mind is more creative and the words seem to flow better for me. This is not always possible given the demands of my day job. Invariably I will often come up with new ideas or insights, which I capture in Evernote.
- Walking my dog: Enzo, my 60-pound flat coated retriever, is my morning companion and the reason that rain or shine we walk each day for nearly 2-miles. I supremely enjoy being outdoors and watching nature come alive. Seeing the birds fly about as the sunrises connects me with the flow of life.
- Some type of exercise: After returning from my walk, I will then do some type of exercise – be it yoga or lifting weight, maybe even some cardio work. Currently I am rehabilitating from shoulder surgery so I am not able to do much additional exercise.
When I was younger I confess to often hitting a snooze alarm and then rushing frantically out the door to go to work. Today I often wake up 2-3 hours before I need to be somewhere just to be able to start the day, as Frank Sinatra would say, my way. As I am aging I realize how precious time is and how important it is to make the most out of each day.
“When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love …” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Julian Kaufmann’s mission is to empower people to live and love more fully. Julian teaches how to more effectively accomplish your life’s work through energy efficiency. Please visit FLOW 101 – Free Course and sign-up for Julian free course on how to get more Flow in your life.
[i] “How To Win The Day.” Altucher Confidential. N.p., 06 July 2015. Web. 27 Feb. 2016.
[ii] “5 Morning Rituals That Help Me Win The Day.” The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2016.
[iii] “Recipe: How To Make Bulletproof Coffee.” Bulletproof. N.p., 10 Nov. 2010. Web. 28 Feb. 2016.