Once in a while, I come across an article or book discussing the morning routines of successful people. Apparently, in order to be successful, you have to get up at 5 am, meditate, perform some crazy workout, write, eat an incredible breakfast (super healthy but only 5 calories), and after all this you are supposed to start your actual workday.
Then, there are articles written by people who have tried said morning routines and failed. People like me – when I was in high school, I had to put my alarm clock at the other side of the room, hoping I would wake up on the way to switch it off. I often got out of bed too late, skipped breakfast and hurried to school with a coffee. This routine carried over to my college days, where at some point I stopped attending classes in the morning. Once in a while I’d try to change something – get out of bed on time, work out in the morning – but I always ended up exhausted, craving more and more sleep the following days.
These are my top three reasons morning routines fail:
- They feel like a chore – subjecting yourself to some exercise regime when you’re dead tired from getting up much too early is absolutely not enjoyable. It’s hard to stick to something when it feels this horrible.
- They’re exhausting – the morning routine is supposed to be invigorating, but after performing it for a couple of days, it has drained you and you feel more tired, not less.
- They’re a hassle – getting up and finding your workout clothes when you’re still half asleep, let along preparing a super healthy but much too complicated breakfast, is just so much more work than falling out of bed, dragging yourself to the shower and switching on the coffee maker.
Now, there’s a twist to my story from above. The morning routine in the first paragraph is basically mine, except my breakfast has more than 5 calories. I get up, meditate, walk the dog, do the crazy workout, make breakfast and then write. Every. Day. Then I go to work and feel invigorated.
How did I go there?
- I optimized a few things about how and how much I sleep, and how I wake up in the morning. It sounds trivial, but when you get enough high quality sleep it’s just so much easier to get out of bed.
- I made it easy to follow any new step of the routine – I prepared my workout clothes and prepared some breakfast the evening before, so that I’d be able to do these things when still half asleep.
And, most importantly:
- I didn’t try to change too much in too little time. I started small, like really small. I did’t even think of exercising in the morning, cooking breakfast, or writing. In the beginning, the only thing I set out to do in the morning was some light stretching.
You can you go there, starting today?
If you’d like to change something about the way you wake up, here’s what you can do: Today, chose something that you’re able to do in the morning right after getting up. Commit to doing this for a whole week. For example:
- Put on workout clothes and stretch for one minute, or do 5 sit-ups.
- Have a glass of water
- Sit silently for one minute
- Go for a quick walk
The only things that are important at this point are commitment (do it every day) and consistency (do it every day in exactly the same way). If you stretch or do sit-ups, do them in the same place in your home. If you go for a quick walk, take the same route. Even if you sit quietly, sit in the same spot.
I promise that if you get this one thing done, no matter how small, the rest will follow. Good luck starting your morning routine, and don’t forget to check back next week for the next step!