Every day, you wake up with a frontal cortex fully charged with willpower (provided you are getting plenty of good, quality sleep!). How you apply that willpower over the course of the day can largely be affected by that first 30 minutes of your morning.
Here’s one way someone might start her day: You wake up, and while still in bed, reach for your smartphone and start scrolling through email. Then do a quick social media scan, check the Instagram and Facebook posts, and then maybe you check out a news site or two. Finally you get out of bed, go make coffee, flip on the TV, and eat a high-sugar breakfast while you watch a morning talk show.
While you do all this, you also warily try to make decisions about what you need to get done during the day. This energy spent on weighing decisions directly drains your willpower reserves. Also, you scold yourself for not having exercised the day before, further exhausting your willpower reserves. You then shower, dress, and hit the morning traffic.
I have a better option for you. Below is an outline I developed while serving in Iraq, in 2004. Despite the environmental stress that comes with being in a combat zone, I was able to start my day energized, focused, and feeling great, with a full reservoir of willpower to spend on the decisions and actions I needed to survive and accomplish my mission as a Navy SEAL leader during wartime. Here are the six steps to developing and following this power ritual:
1. Find a calm space.
Each morning, wake up and go to a place where you can be alone and settle into a space of sacred silence. This space is ideally separate from your bedroom but can be any place where you have privacy.
2. Hydrate to fuel your body.
Start your day by drinking a glass of fresh, filtered water.
3. Take just a few minutes to reflect.
Think about your personal ethos and establish positivity through gratitude. Use your journal for this and reflect on questions like these: