Morning rituals. To the untrained ear, it sounds like some new-age fluff concept. It’s not. To put it simply, a morning ritual is a set of actions you do immediately upon waking up to prepare and optimize yourself for a more productive and laser-focused day. As an entrepreneur, this is important, so listen up.
Most people get into the habit of waking up late, rushing to get out door and grabbing a coffee for breakfast while on the go. A poor routine that sets a bad tone for the whole day.
The good news is that every morning you have a choice to craft a better day. So get up and get ready, because today you’re going to switch things up and build a morning ritual to supercharge your day.
It's Common Sense
It’s not rocket science. Lots of articles try to prove their weight and worth by referencing scientific studies and psychology. But studies shouldn’t be necessary nor should that be your motivating factor. So we’re not going to talk about human psychology and studies, we’re going to talk common sense.
Let’s look at two options for waking up and starting your day:
You wake up and immediately grab your smart phone, slightly blinded by the bright screen on your still sleepy eyes. 12 notifications between various apps, social networks, emails and text messages (likely some urgent and some not so urgent things to deal with). You turn on the TV while you’re getting ready and watch the morning news (crime, heavy traffic, maybe some rain). You’re running late for a meeting so you head out the door without breakfast and rush to your meeting to start your day.
You wake up 30 minutes earlier than normal and immediately spend several minutes in silence, appreciating the stillness before you start your day. You sit up in bed, close your eyes again and spend the next few minutes meditating, just focusing on your breathing and practicing controlling your thoughts. At your own time, you go an fix yourself a fresh fruit smoothy. While you’re taking the time to enjoy your breakfast, you write down your goals for the day. The most important one first, followed by the rest, less important goals. Finally you pick up your smartphone to check notifications from the night and adjust your goals and priorities accordingly. With some time to spare before your first meeting, you take the walk that crosses through the park.
Which scenario do you wholeheartedly believe will lead to a better day? Which scenario is closer to your current situation?
These might sound like two extremes, however, the difference between these two mornings is really a few small and very simple choices. Even if you’re currently closer to scenario #2, there’s still likely lots of room for improvement.
Why is Starting Your Day Right so Important?
Baring extraordinary circumstances, you’re going to wake up tomorrow morning, the morning after that, the one after that, and likely, the next 10,000-20,000 mornings after that. Why would you not spend some time to figure out what will create better, more productive days since you have a whole lot of them ahead of you?
Ask yourself, is it possible that you can feel better each day? Is it possible you can work harder? Is it possible you can be more alert, focused and relaxed if you changed a few fundamental things on starting your day? Is it possible?
A logical person would likely say yes.
What Does a Morning Ritual Look Like?
A morning ritual and it’s complexity will depend on the person implementing it. It can be just one or two things, or it can be a half dozen. There’s really no definition of what a morning ritual looks like or has to look like. In the end, it's really whatever makes you feel better, more productive and alert for the day ahead.
Here’s some examples just to give you an idea:
- Wake up 10 minutes early to meditate
Here’s another example:
- Wake up 30 minutes early
- Stretch for 10 minutes
- Write down goals for the day in order of importance
Here’s another example:
- Wake up 1 hour early
- Read for 20 minutes
- Write down some ideas for your business
- Drink a fresh fruit smoothie
- Work on the most important task of the day
Finally, here’s one last example:
- Wake up at 6 a.m.
- Meditate for 10 minutes
- Exercise for 5-7 minutes (pushups, jogging etc.)
- Drink a tall glass of water
- Define your tasks and goals for the day
- Begin your day
Again, crafting a morning ritual can be as simple as you want, but you should test and focus on the things that give you the greatest benefit for the day. This will only come from you testing different elements over time.
What Are Typical Elements of a Great Morning Ritual?
There’s a lot of options when it comes to building a morning ritual, in fact, your options are endless. You may find that 15 minutes of drawing helps you with your creativity for the day or you may learn that playing with your dog puts you in a good state of mind for the rest of the day. There's really no limit.
With that said, there are some common elements of great morning rituals that are worth noting that can serve as a great start point. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular:
Water - It’s said that if you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Additionally, we all know that our bodies and especially our brains absolutely need water and hydration so it makes sense to start your day with a glass. Consider that you rarely go a few hours while you’re awake without drinking, yet when you wake up in the morning, you’ve likely been without water for 6-8 hours. Try drinking water first thing when you wake up.
Breakfast - Most people eat some type of breakfast in the morning, be it a full, heavy breakfast, yogurt, a granola bar, or maybe just a coffee on the go. How often have you truly experimented to figure out which type of food gives you the most energy and clarity?
Everyone's bodies are different, however, try to avoid sugary foods, and experiment with high-energy foods like fruits and vegetables and nutrient rich smoothies. Keep in mind the food intake in the morning can be one of the biggest factors that will set the tone for the day so pay extra close attention to what really works for you.
Exercise - Exercising is a great tool to add to your morning ritual arsenal. Exercising, especially in small amounts actually gives you more energy. It doesn't have to be a full workout at your local gym, just a few minutes of pushups, jogging around the block or yoga can have a massive impact on your day ahead.
Family - If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re busy all the time. A business isn’t built from 9-5, it’s built from 7am-11pm. There’s always more to do and there’s never enough time. Adding some dedicated family time to your morning routine can be important not just for starting your day right but also the rest of your family members.
Reading - Very few people would argue with the benefits of reading. It stimulates the mind, expands your thoughts and challenges your opinions. If most of your current daily reading is done online, try changing it up and actually grab a book you never finished, or choose a new one. Maybe even try a book completely different from what you’ve read before. Remember, the goal is to set the tone for the day so you should stick to positive books.
Writing - Writing has a lot of benefits. It helps you better form thoughts and flush out ideas that are stuck in your head. This doesn’t mean you need to write a book or a blog post. Just writing down a few ideas in a a journal, be it product ideas, business ideas or marketing ideas can be extremely beneficial and help spark your day.
Silence - There’s something to be said for silence and in a world where we are constantly bumbarded with the sounds of the city, advertising, dings and rings from your smartphone. A few moments of pure, uninterrupted silence can be a golden way to get your thoughts straight and in-line for the day.
Meditation - Many people are initially adverse to meditation. Maybe it’s a branding problem, however meditation definitely has its benefits and many successful people swear by it. In fact, at a recent conference, Tim Ferriss said that if there’s one thing he’d change about his past, it would have been to start meditating earlier.
Meditation, can be really as simple silence+focus. Do you think that some silence and focus can help you? It’s pretty hard to argue against a bit of silence and focus in your life.
Set Your Goals For The Day - As an entrepreneur, and maybe an entrepreneur that still has a day job, you likely have hundreds of tasks on your to-do list. It's so easy to be overwhelmed and lose focus of your goals for the day. Try writing down your three most important goals and objectives first thing in the morning, beginning with the one that you absolutely must finish.
These are just a list of several, more common and traditional elements to add to your morning routine. Like mentioned previously, your recipe of morning rituals will vary based on what works for you.
How to Create Your Own Morning Ritual
Your ritual is just that, your ritual. It doesn’t need to be complicated and you’ll need to experiment to see what works best for you.
1. Begin with your anchor - Start by choosing one ritual you think will have the most impact and make this your anchor by practicing it and making it a part of your morning. Speaking with UJ, founder of The 5 Minute Journal and behavioural change specialists, UJ said:
Stick with your first task for at least a month before adding anything else onto your morning ritual. It should become so much part of your morning that your day feels strange if you don’t do it. Just like brushing your teeth.
For many people, this anchor ends up being waking up a certain period of time earlier. This is a big one because it allows you the time to implement other rituals.
2. Add elements as desired - Once your anchor ritual has become part of your routine, begin adding others in the order you feel most comfortable, and again, slowly implement each one so that you don’t overwhelm yourself or overcommit. Overcommitting is the biggest reason people give up on building an optimized morning ritual and go back to old habits.
3. Switch things up and always be testing - If a particular ritual isn’t working for you and you’re not seeing or feeling the benefits after giving it a fair chance, don’t be afraid to toss it out. Not every ritual is for everyone. Over time, you’ll learn what works best for you. You keep the best, discard the rest and soon you’ll have a morning ritual that truly prepares you for an optimized day of productivity and hard work.
4. Stick with it - Most importantly, once you've discovered what works for you, stick with it. Make it an unwavering part of your morning like brushing your teeth. In time, it will become second nature and you won't even think about it anymore.
Tools to Help Build & Optimize Your Morning Ritual
For the most part you really don’t need anything to create a morning ritual. However, there are some great resources out there should to want to take things a step further that have helped many people create better morning and days for themselves.
Some of the most popular tools and resources are:
The 10x Journal was designed and written by the Shopify team who contributes to this blog. Created to help entrepreneurs build successful businesses, the 10x Journal helps you set out your objectives at the beginning of the day and follow up in the evening.
The 5 Minute Journal and App was created by Alex Ikonn and UJ Ramdas as a very simple framework for getting your day started, and it only takes a few minutes each morning.
The Five Minute Journal is one of the simplest ways that I have found to consistently ensure improving my well being and happiness. Both in terms of achievement and actual measurable, quantifiable results.
Tim Ferriss, NY Times Best Selling Author
Headspace Meditation (App)
Headspace describes itself as a gym membership for the mind. A course of guided meditation, delivered via an app or online. The perfect app and intro to meditation for beginners and intermediate meditators alike.
Coach.me employs coaching, community, and data to help you be your best and achieve your goals. A great app to help you stick to the goals you implement in your morning ritual.
The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod (Book) - 4 1/2 Stars from 918 Reviews
The Miracle Morning is regarded by many as "one of the most life changing books ever written”. This book is can help you transform each day by showing you how to wake up each day with more energy, motivation and focus to take your life and business to the next level.
Your morning unequivocally sets the tone for the entire day. It will take time to develop a optimized morning routine that works well for you, but what’s important is that every morning you’re in charge of the decisions that start your day.
With so many days ahead of you, there’s no reason not to spend some time optimizing your routine and building a morning ritual that will take you and your business to the next level.
What's Your Morning Ritual?
In the name of helping other entrepreneurs, what morning rituals have you developed? What have you found, that above all else, supercharges your day and helps you take your focus, clarity and productivity to the next level? Let us know in the comments.
About The Author
Richard Lazazzera is an ecommerce entrepreneur and Content Strategist in charge of customer success at Shopify. Get more from Richard on his ecommerce blog.