This column is by Zdravko Cvijetic, Founder of Zero to Skill
Imagine a door in front of you.
As you open them, you find yourself in a room with only a desk and a chair.
You approach towards, you see a book, which has your name on it.
For the first couple of seconds, you are struck in awe.
And questions start appearing:
What is this? Do I read it, or not?
After debating with your inner voice, you decide to sit down.
And you open it.
The title Of the book is: “My Unfulfilled Dreams.”
Now you are baffled.
As you open the second page, you see a list of your dreams. The ones that never happened. Some of them being repeated year in, year out.
And right below each dream, there’s an excuse that you used not to go for it.
Dream: Chasing your passion
Excuse: But there’s no money in it.
Excuse: But I don’t have the time.
And as you go through this book, you start to remember what each one of those dreams meant to you.
Tears start sliding down your face as you reach the end.
Suddenly you stumble upon on one page that has your age on it and following written:
Yes, you haven’t chased them. Yes, you’ve used excuses. But right now that doesn’t matter.
What matters is that you are alive now and you still have time left to go after them.
The only thing that is left is for you to decide whether or not you will use an excuse now?
I’ll let you think about that for a moment.
If you are similar to me, you probably think it’s time to start creating a life that will help you achieve those dreams.
To do that, you need to learn how to master your time, use it in a way that will help you get results.
The first step is to discover how to use those first hours of your morning because they set the tone for the entire day.
That’s why it’s important to crush the beginning of the day because it will reflect on rest of it.
The morning routine is nothing more than several habits.
There are two types of habits you would want to form:
1. Habits that can improve quality of your life in the present
2. Habits that can improve the quality of your life in the future
Ideally, you should focus to form habits that give you both.
Such as an exercising.
By doing so, you will start seeing a mighty change; that will influence and drastically improve every area of your life:
- You will reach optimal health
- Your energy will be high and vibrant
- Your will unleash your creative life
- Your financial situation will improve
- You will have a chance to grow and learn more
- Your relationships will become better
- Your emotional life will find its equilibrium
- You will be made more productive than ever
Trust me; I can go on with listing what results you will achieve.
Before we proceed with the actual things, have you ever heard of The Marshmallow Experiment?
The Stanford marshmallow experiment was a series of studies on delayed gratification in the late 1960s and early 1970s led by psychologist Walter Mischel, then a professor at Stanford University.
In these studies, a child was offered a choice between one small reward provided immediately or two small rewards (i.e., a larger later reward) if they waited for a short period, approximately 15 minutes, during which the tester left the room and then returned. (The reward was sometimes a marshmallow, but often a cookie or a pretzel.)
In follow-up studies (10 years later), the researchers found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes, as measured by SAT scores, educational attainment, body mass index (BMI), and other life measures.
Trying to make significant changes in your life will be difficult.
But if you manage to delay gratification, and establish the desired habit, your life will grow exponentially.
The way you can achieve that is to focus on the present moment and try to enjoy every single thing you do.
There are five things you would want to achieve in the morning:
1. Become Alert
2. Take care of your emotional state
3. Take care of your intellectual state
4. Take care of your health
5. Work on an activity that supports your long-term goals
And here are the ways how you can achieve these.
23 Things You Can Do To Create A Life-changing Morning Routine
1. Get Up Earlier
I firmly believe that everyone should develop a habit of getting up earlier. Even if you don’t think, you are a morning person.
But in the modern world, they have us belief that we are a failure if we don’t wake you at 4:30 AM or 5 AM in the morning.
Which is far from the truth.
I think it would be foolish to assume that everyone should wake up at 5 AM. I believe that it’s an excellent idea, but whether or not you should get up that early depends on your lifestyle (a student who studies until early morning and a person which has to be at work at 7 AM, cannot form the same habit).
What you need to do is optimize your sleeping/waking up, so you can be fully rested and healthy, and that it supports your goals.
Don’t make drastic changes.
If you want to get up at 6 AM, but you’re at 8 AM.
Start with 7:45 AM. And do that for two days.
Then go down to 7:30. And so on.
This will help you create a slow transition, and once you reach 6 AM, just try to keep up the momentum, until it becomes a habit.
2. Drink 16oz (500ml) water
Your body just went 5-8 hours without hydration. So you need to make up the difference.
Water kickstarts your metabolism, hydrates you, helps your body flush out toxins, gives your brain fuel, and may even make you eat less.
3. Make your bed
Doing this in the morning is going to be the first thing you will accomplish. So it will give you a small sense of pride, and a boost in motivation to focus on other things.
As Tim Ferriss says, it teaches you that it’s the little things in life that matter.
Tim also says: “no matter how sh**ty your day is, no matter how catastrophic it might become, you can make your bed.”
Simple, yet powerful.
Stretching can help improve flexibility, which can enhance your performance in physical activities or decrease your risk of injuries while enabling your muscles to work efficiently.
This takes 2 minutes, but it will have a big effect on you.
5. Engage In A Physical Activity
Depending on your lifestyle, goals and personal preference this can be anything:
Gym, Yoga, Zumba, Walking, Running, Jumping on a trampoline. Swimming.
Whatever it is, just get your body moving.
According to research, having a constant physical activity:
- Helps you control weight
- Improves health conditions and battles diseases
- Improves mood
- Boosts energy
- Promotes better sleep
- Improves sex life
- It’s fun
6. Take a Cold Shower
This will not only give you energy and feeling of freshness, but it will drastically improve your physical and mental well-being, it improves your immune and digestive system, plus it can help with weight loss.
Plus, right after the exercise, there’s nothing better than a nice shower.
7. Drink either Coffee or Tea
This is an entirely personal preference, but both of these have benefits for the body and promote alertness, which is more than welcome in the morning.
And there is also the idea of having your peace in the morning while drinking something warm.
8. Establish a Healthy Diet
Think of your body as a vehicle. If you want it to go great distances, you have to take care of it.
The biggest problem is that people think only short-term.
When it comes to dieting, it shouldn’t be something you do once in a while.
But it should be part of who you are.
So educate yourself on the topic, and create your perfect diet.
Basic math is simple:
If you cut unhealthy food and Add healthy food = Healthy Body
9. Reflect On The Day Before
We had a saying back at home that “Morning is always smarter than the night.”
The reason is that you go through a lot within one day. Decision making, interactions, physical activity.
This depletes your capability to see things from a fresh perspective.
So reflect on the day before, see what you did the right (and how can you continue doing that), and what you did that can be improved?
Draw the lessons, and apply them right away.
10. Be Grateful
Once you’ve closed the chapter of yesterday, focus on the present.
What are the things that you have in life that you feel truly grateful for? People? Experiences? Love? Health? Progress? Growth?
And just remind yourself about it, because it will give you a sense of humility, and a good starting point to do more.
It doesn’t have to be a cliche.
But the act of letting your mind wonder and channeling it to a notebook is incredible.
The amount of ideas and realizations that will happen will astonish you.
Whatever comes to mind, just let it be.
This can truly be a therapeutic experience.
12. Establish a Centering Activity
We live in a world that doesn’t stop, and its rare to find a peaceful moment.
That’s why you need to find a way to be more in the present and calm your thoughts.
What you want to do here, is to create a grounding effect.
Meditation and prayer are just one of the ways you can achieve that, but not the only ones.
You can create a mix of different things, depending on what suits your needs.
13. Set and review goals
This is important because if you know what you are striving to achieve, you will be able to direct your attention to it.
Goals work like a lens of a camera.
If you set the lens and focus correctly, you will be able to take a clear picture.
If it is out of focus, your picture will be blurry.
Focus on one year ahead, and set from 3–5 primary goals, for the most important areas of your life (work, health, social relationships, personal growth, travel, etc.)
Make your goals specific, and phrase them in a way as if you’ve already achieved them.
And once you have set your goals, come back to them every day and do a review, to see can something is improved or adapted.
14. Visualize Your Goals
Once you have your goals in place, a direction in life, you need to visualize your path towards accomplishing them.
By adding details, a clear path, and emotion of how would it feel if you already achieved it, you trick your mind into believing that it is already capable of achieving it.
I want to be quite clear; this is not the Law of Attraction type of a thing. Where you imagine a Ferrari, and tomorrow it magically appears next to your mansion.
It doesn’t work like that.
Visualization is one side of the coin.
Hard work and dedication is another side of the coin.
These two together can give you a Ferrari.
15. Develop A Strategy
Goals set. Path envisioned.
Now you need to create a simple strategy that will help you get there.
What are the things you need to do to make your goals happen? What are the milestones? When is the deadline? What are the possible roadblocks?
When you have this in place, you need to break it down further.
16. Set Priorities For The Day
Your priorities should be derived from your strategy.
High leverage activities that you should focus on that day that will bring you closer to your goals.
Ideally, you would want to set 3-5 activities and determine the hierarchy of importance for each one of them.
17. Read Books
No matter what genre you are reading, the real immersion in the topic will spark your creativity and unleash your imagination.
Each book has at least one good idea it can offer you; that can help you grow personally or professionally.
So whenever you open a book, look for just one idea, and you will see how soon they will start lining up.
Take a look at this article on Comprehensive Reading, if you are interested in improving your efficiency and reading speed.
18. Learn Something New
To achieve your goals, you will need to develop yourself personally and professionally regularly.
This can be accomplished through different mediums, such as books, podcasts or courses.
And its the same as habits, you should focus on skills that can give you both value in the present and in the future.
Try to make learning as interactive as possible, to motivate you to persist.
Here’s a how-to guide for acquiring skills rapidly.
19. Work On Your Long-term Goal
Whether you are a student, or you are pursuing a career, or you have your own business.
This is the time of the day where you dedicate yourself and put full focus on the most important activity.
You want to focus on high-leverage activities that will give you the best results.
Remove all distractions, find a spot where you are comfortable (but not too much, so you don’t fall asleep) and just sit down.
Finish the most important task of the day, and then you can move on.
20. Check Emails, Social Media & News
Once you’ve finished with the big chunk of your work, you can then check notifications.
Scan through important things, and declutter the rest.
Be sure to stay focused, because the internet does a pretty good job with distracting us from the useful.
21. Work On Your Passion Project
As a reward, find something that’s close to your heart.
Something that “turns you on,” that can unleash your potential and maybe even help does around you.
Whatever it is, don’t forget to nurture that part of yourself.
22. Kickstart Your Day With Inspirational Content
Here you can create a final touch to your ritual, something that will give you the boost for the day.
It can be your personal mantra, or motivational video, a workout song or some inspiring article.
An example of a personal mantra might be:
“Every day in every way I am becoming better and better.”
Maybe that will give you some ideas.
23. Spend Time With Your Family (or partner)
Spending quality time with your family or the partner can be so rewarding.
Even if it is just for 30 minutes, try to be present and dedicate them your undivided attention.
Then again there are those (including me), who live alone and are single, in which case you can maybe have an early time with your friends.
Or just have alone time to enjoy after well done morning ritual.
There are just a couple of notes you should have in mind:
* Take it easy on yourself (this is supposed to be enjoyable process)
* Don’t start everything at once, focus on the habits within the first hour until it becomes a habit
* Be flexible (sometimes you will stay out longer, go for travel and you should adapt your routine accordingly)
* You will need to sacrifice certain things (establishing a morning ritual takes time, and you will need to choose to do the hard thing instead of sleeping an extra hour, or skipping working out)
There is something special about being awake early, and knowing that you are working on improving the quality of your life, and as a result of it, you will improve the lives of people around you.
Whatever becomes a part of your morning routine, be consistent. You will notice how fast you will grow and how everything around you start’s to align.
Implementing these things will change you and your life.
You’ll be happier and more energetic. Your productivity will skyrocket. Your relationships will be healthier and stronger. You will be more motivated and inspired to do more. Your financial life will improve.
You will be better. And you will do better.
The most amazing thing about it is that you will accomplish all of this by improving a couple of hours of your day, imagine what you could do with the rest of it?
You know what you need to do. Go after it.
Impossible is waiting for you.
Image Credit: https://unsplash.com/@esdesignisms
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