morning routineAre you looking for a new career, building a business or an executive responsible for the performance of a Fortune 500 company? Having a morning routine is a practice that can transform your life and drive the results you want most.

Humans love consistency. They respond to the familiar. In fact most of what we do every day consists of habitual behavior. Think about it. What do you do out of habit every day? The question is not whether you behave habitually but whether the habits serve you well. Some habits are “good” and others are “bad.” For instance: that fourth cup of coffee; a fast food drive through while running late for an appointment; buried in email and missing appointments at the gym; skipping dinner and collapsing into a bottle of wine at the end of a stressful day — if these are your regular routine, you may have fallen into a habitually unproductive rut.

Changing habits is not easy and should not be tackled all at once — hence a focus on the morning. Have you ever noticed that so goes the morning — so goes the day? We say things like, “I got up on the wrong side of the bed.” Or, “I think I just need to go home and start over again today.” These are indications we know the day we put in motion may very well stay in motion. So, why not take control of the day? Start with a routine to help you to reduce stress, be more productive, have a more positive attitude, and literally transform the outcome of your day and your life.

Now you know where to focus, let’s look at a few practices you might add to your daily routine.

  1. Set a schedule and get the sleep that is right for you. Get up at the same time every day. Be sure it is a time that will allow you enough sleep. This means picking the time and then going to bed at an hour that will allow you to wake up refreshed and ready to go.
  2. Practice mindfulness. Being “present” at the beginning of every day promotes focus, attention to priorities, good time management choices, and reduces stress. You might do this in a form of meditation or journaling or prayer. I do “morning pages” introduced by Julia Cameron in her book The Artists’ Way at Work. It is a deliberate release of information and the emotions attached to them that have gathered in my head in the previous 24 hours. I pour them onto three 8 ½ x 11 lined pages each morning. It is not a journal and never intended to be re-read. It clears my mind and brings me into present space. Find what works for you and do it.
  3. Move. This can be hard for some of us. My mind works great in the morning but I have to push my body into action. Keep in mind moving does not have to be a 10 mile run. It can simply be morning stretches. You might try yoga or a brisk walk. The objective is to get in touch with how your body feels, and get your lungs pumping — not catapult you into pain. Do what feels good.
  4. Eat for who you want to be. They say we are what we eat. If this is so, then why not eat what is good for us? Skip the fast food and sugar. Avoid too much caffeine. You know what you should eat. Your body knows. Raw, whole foods such as fruits and vegetables, eggs, and lean meats support good health. Avoid the foods that spike your energy or cloud your mind. Consult your doctor or a nutritionist on what is best for you. Avoid following the newest trend on what is good and what is not. It changes so rapidly it will send you to a place of confusion.
  5. Do something nice for someone else. I know how I feel when I do something nice for someone like make an unexpected call, give a compliment, send a card, tell them how much they mean to me, etc. It feels so good I do it every day. Try it! In this case, the giver is the receiver.
  6. Affirm your gratitude. It is said you can only have one emotion at a time. If this is so, then you cannot be sad, scared, angry, hopeless, helpless, uninspired, self-pitying, or any other negative emotion if you are experiencing a positive emotion such as gratitude. You can make it happen. Simply review a list of all the things you are grateful for. I do this on the way to work. I say them out loud. By the time I arrive, my mind is flooded with good thoughts and a smile.
  7. Smile. Yes, just smile. Try this: smile for three minutes (not as easy as it sounds). The upturn in your lips and rise in your cheeks changes your attitude. It’s also a great exercise to keep your face firm.

Worried you don’t have time for a morning routine? I guarantee you, it’s there. Eliminate the rolling over for 10 more minutes of shut-eye, standing in the closet trying to decide what to wear because you mind is not clear, or reading thirty more emails someone sent to try to sell you a miracle. All of what has been mentioned above can be done in one hour or less. Some can be done at the same time. Out with the bad habits and in with the good. Remember, if you do something every day for 21 days it becomes a new habit. Stay focused. Keep your commitment to change the way you start your day. It can transform your life.