For the past 12 years, I’ve worked from home. For 11 of those years, I was working for other people. On my typical day, after hitting the snooze button too many times to count, I’d crawl out of bed and stumble my way downstairs and into the kitchen. iPhone in hand, I'd go right to checking emails and my social media while making multiple shots of espresso.
Then it was rush, rush, rush, getting my son ready for school. By the time I made it into my home office, any control I thought I had over my day had slipped away.
But one year ago, my life changed dramatically. After a 20-plus-year career in the corporate world, I lost my job. There I was, in my mid-40s, faced with the prospect of choosing what was behind door No. 1, 2, or 3.
Behind door No. 1 was searching for another job like the one I’d just lost. Behind door No. 2: struggling through a midlife career change and ending up underemployed like so many others I know. Door No. 3 held the opportunity to reinvent myself as an entrepreneur, pursuing my dreams of public-speaking, writing, and coaching.
I chose door No. 3.
Fast-forward to today. One of biggest factors in my success has been my morning routine. Not the morning routine I described above, but one inspired by the insights shared by many highly successful people. I no longer snooze my alarm, and for the past eight months, I’ve been getting up at or before 5 a.m., and following these seven steps:
1. Prepare the night before.
Have you ever heard the term decision fatigue? As we make more and more decisions, the quality of our decision-making begins to deteriorate. So that you don’t start the day trying to decide what to wear, lay out your clothes the night before. Also, prepare a glass of water with some freshly squeezed lemon.
After hearing so many highly successful people talk about the benefits of meditation, I pushed away my skepticism and gave it a try. Now I can’t go a day without it. There are many different forms of meditation, but the important thing is that you take at least 10 minutes to relax and practice some deep breathing. If you’re new to meditation, check out the various guided meditation resources available.
Visualize your day as you expect it to be. Start by focusing on what’s most important to you. It could be your spouse, your kids, or a close friend. Visualize the experiences you will have with your loved ones that day. Next, visualize yourself completing the important tasks that you have planned for the day.
4. Get inspired.
There are many different resources available to get a jolt of inspiration. Some well-known motivational and success experts send out a daily inspirational video or audio messages. Another way to get inspired is to read a chapter of a book or read the highlighted sections of a book you've read and marked up previously.
Spending hours each week at the gym is great if you have the time and enjoy it, but it’s not a requirement for having a solid exercise routine. There are many ways to perform a full-body workout with minimal or no equipment, even in as little as eight minutes. When you make exercise part of your morning routine, you eliminate the excuse of being too busy or too tired later in the day.
Journaling, even if for only five minutes a day, is very powerful. You should write about whatever is important to you. Here are some suggestions if you need some help getting started: Reflecting on the prior day, write about key accomplishments and the lessons you learned from them. Next, write down something or someone you’re grateful for in your life right now. To help you focus on what’s important for the day ahead, write at least one key action you’ll prioritize that day for improving your health, relationships, and wealth.
Stretching isn’t just something you do during exercise. If you’re sitting while you’re reading this, stretching can help you, too. Just 10 minutes of stretching each day reduces tightness in your muscles and helps you maintain better posture throughout the day. As a bonus, it’s also a great stress reliever.
Either you own the day, or the day owns you. After years of feeling stuck and letting the day take its toll on me, I’ve taken back control. Using these seven steps as my foundation, I’m creating opportunities and making the life of my dreams a reality. You can do this, too, if you start by taking action to create a new morning routine that puts you back in control.
How are you owning your days?