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7 Critical Components of a Powerful Morning Routine 

morning

One of the most important habits of developing consistent high performance in your life is to put your self-esteem into your work habits rather than your production.

The reason is because we want our confidence tied to things that we can control rather than things we can’t.

Production often fluctuates up and down but our effort, work ethic, and intensity needs to always be consistent.

The decision to embrace this philosophy can be something that you demonstrate in the first few moments of every day.

I first learned the power of a morning routine from my time in college working in The Southwestern Advantage summer program.

They taught us to have and focus on a “mini-victories list” every single morning.

To this day, I follow a regimented routine every single morning that includes many of those original habits I developed selling door to door in the summer:

 

Gratitude – The very first thing I do when the alarm goes off is immediately start saying “thank you”. I thank God for as many specific blessings as I can possibly come up with in those first few moments. In addition to being a powerful way to start the day, it also keeps my mind from being occupied with negative thoughts about how tired I might be or what I have to do that day.

 

Scripture – For me it is a very intentional choice that the first input into my brain each day be scripture. Not email. Not Twitter. Not news. Scripture. Not only does it help charge my soul for the day, it is also an external representation of an internal decision to prioritize my spiritual walk and relationship with God above all else. After reading scripture I pray. It’s an important discipline. (Tip: Timothy Keller’s book Prayer taught me to focus on reading each individual word slowly and one at a time instead of speeding through sentences.)

 

Affirmations – Over the years I have amassed several lists of different affirmations. Some speak to the person I want to be, some speak to the company we want Southwestern Consulting to be, and some are very specific to reprogramming my brain about certain fears, current limiting beliefs that I have or new habits I’m focused on developing. I read those next.

Goals – I’ve always then spent a few minutes reviewing my short and long term goals. What has been very powerful for me in the last couple years is that I read my wife’s goals first. And when I know of them, I read specific goals of my business partners as well before I read mine. This is another discipline that I practice to try and cultivate more selflessness in my life. It’s important because I’m embarrassed and ashamed to admit that absent an intentional decision to think about other people, I unfortunately naturally default to thinking mostly of just myself.

Schedule – I spend a few moments reviewing my schedule and making sure I’m consciously aware of everything that is supposed to happen that day. A great piece of advice that I’ve been trying to practice that I learned from profiling a Multiplier for the Procrastinate on Purpose book is to “throw everything off my calendar and make it fight to earn its way back on.”

Exercise – This is another habit I learned directly from Southwestern, which is to do something physical first thing in the morning every single day! Even if it’s only a few push-ups, sit-ups, or weightless squats, it’s a major victory to do even some small physical activity. And you should never underestimate the power of consistency in your life; literally a few minutes of exercise every day does wonders for helping you maintain your physical state.

Vitamins – Taking vitamins and veggies is not something I particularly enjoy; but I do it every single day. Because staying healthy requires discipline and it’s a choice I want to consistently make first thing in the morning. My body is something I choose to protect and preserve and supplements are an important part of the routine. As mama always said “enjoying it isn’t a requirement of doing it.”

Making it through this entire list (including a 20 min workout routine) takes me about 45 minutes.

(In full disclosure, there is one other step to this routine that I’ve been doing the last couple years that I left out since it’s not ubiquitous to everyone: I also write 1 little inspirational social media post each day on Instagram that I also share to Facebook and Twitter. It takes about 7 minutes a day but I find that writing a little each day adds up tremendously over time. Those little thoughts often later get expanded into blog posts, which then many blog posts get put together to become a book, which is then made into keynotes, virtual trainings , and coaching modules.

Part of the power of this routine is programming your brain for success each day.

Another part of the power of this routine is preparing yourself to have a positive attitude each day.

But perhaps the most powerful part of this routine is that it helps you start “winning” right away.

Because all of these things are things that you can control.

And all of these things are mini-victories.

They are demonstrations of discipline that happen every morning.

They are resolutions that I will not let my life happen by accident but by design.

I will not be confused about where I’m going; I will be clear.

And I will not lose to the natural voices of fatigue, negativity, and distraction in my head; I will silence them.

This process helps remind me of how much I’ve been given, why my life counts, and who I am focused on serving.

You don’t have to follow this exact process, but I would highly recommend that you and your coach create some process – and that you follow it relentlessly.

Because success is never owned; it’s only rented – and the rent is due every day.

My Morning Routine

morning routine

How you start each day has huge implications for the success of each day and thereby the eventual success of your life.

Today I was asked by someone what my morning routine is and I thought to share it here. It is something I’m very disciplined about and that I’ve compiled from learning from lots of different people.

1. Gratitude – The very second the alarm goes off I hit snooze once and stay in bed and immediately start thinking about all that I am grateful for. Don’t fall back asleep, but I spend the first few minutes each day snuggling wifey and thinking of all I’m grateful for. I learned this from Darren Hardy.

2. Scripture – The next time the alarm goes off I get up immediately and go sit down and read scripture. My goal is to have the first words that pass my eyeballs and enter my mind each day be scripture. My friend and partner Steve Reiner once taught me that I want to sew scripture deep into every fabric of my soul. I usually read one passage but I read it slowly, one word at a time, which Tim Keller talks about in his book on prayer. Then I pray.

3. Affirmations – On my phone notes I keep several different lists of affirmations. I rotate each day on which ones I read. Most frequently for the past 7 years I’ve read my “Millionaire Mind” affirmations that I got from T Harv Eker. I also rotate reading through our Southwestern Consulting company Creed, Partners Pact, and Manifesto

4. Wifey Goals – Randomly I started reading AJ’s goals each morning and it became such a powerful way to reinforce and remind me to serve and support her. It is very intentional that I read hers before I read mine. This is a very similar reason why I read our company credos as well.

5. My Goals – I have a list of personal goals (targets I’m pursuing), a list of personal visions (moments I want to experience in the future), and a list of visions for the company. I usually rotate reading through these next.  

6. Social Media Post – Each morning I write a custom post that has one unique lesson that I’ve typically recently learned. My goal is to write something that inspires people for their day like a shot of motivational espresso. Even on days I don’t feel like it, I find something to say because as my friend Jay Baer taught me, “media companies don’t publish on inspiration but perspiration.”

7. Exercise – Then I get up and go workout. As my friend and new SWC Partner, Dana Potthoff once taught me, “I try to get to the gym before my body has time to wake up and convince me otherwise.”

Many of these habits were taught to me and ingrained during my summers with Southwestern Advantage, and as you can see are also made up from other people I’ve learned from.

You can check out Hal Elrod’s book The Miracle Morning on this for more about morning routines.

So, how do you start your mornings?

Payoff

When you procrastinate it’s because you want to.

It’s a much nicer fantasyland to live in by thinking that we struggle with procrastination because there is something wrong with us or because there is something inherently different about our DNA or our behavioral style that makes us doomed.

But it’s not.

When you put off doing things you know you should do it’s because there is a huge payoff for you.

The payoff is that you get to be safe.  The payoff is that you don’t have to push. The payoff is that you don’t have to try.

And, not only do you get to have the comfort and convenience of the life that you’ve always been used to, but you get to carry around the story of “well if I ever would’ve really tried then I could’ve done it…”

If that’s you, it doesn’t make you a bad person; it just means you haven’t yet acknowledged what’s really going on. You do it because you think it allows you to maintain your dignity but really it’s just a form of self-dishonesty.

It is a dilemma though.

If you decide to overcome that procrastination, then that means you’re going to have to work. You’re going to have to toil. You’re going to have to sweat and you’re going to have to see what you’re really made of.

If you procrastinate then you get to stand still. You get to keep what you already have. You get the payoff of never having to test yourself to see what you might be capable of.

If it’s the payoff that you want though, I hope you like it – because it’s the only payoff you’re ever going to get.