Your Morning Routine Can Change Your Life Tomorrow
Thank you, Hal Elrod, for waking me up to a new perspective.
Snooze button. Snooze button again.
Tired, sluggish, and dreading the day, I drag myself out of bed like a zombie from The Walking Dead. Like many hard-working entrepreneurs, this was my daily morning routine. Two years ago, I stumbled upon a podcast interview with author Hal Elrod in which he shared his incredible story and explained his book The Miracle Morning. His message hit me like a ton of bricks.
We are all work so hard to create an amazing life for ourselves, but we never stop and take the time to enjoy the life we have created.
For entrepreneurs, our days are a nonstop sprint of texts, emails, phone calls, and office work. We rarely stop and take time each day to reap the benefits of our hard work. Hal points out that the only safe time is in the morning before we start our day. He emphasizes that we owe it to ourselves to block out this time to experience life without interruptions or distractions. He suggests a morning routine called SAVERS (silence, affirmation, visualization, exercise, reading, and scribing).
The two-week rule
I have a process for the implementation of new self-improvement ideas I call the two-week rule. When I try something new, I commit 100% for two weeks. I go ALL IN. I do not judge results or deviate from the plan. This allows me to do a fair assessment of the new endeavor. No excuses are allowed. I just decide "this is what I am going to do". Once the decision is made, then there is no more thinking or debate. After hearing about the Miracle Morning, I started my two-week evaluation. Two years later, I am still doing it every day.
Why it matters
Friends have asked me "what is the point of waking up early?" My answer is that it changed how I view my life. It kick-started a new diet, a 30-pound weight loss, integration of mindfulness into my life, and I conquered physician burnout. I have read more books in the past two years than in the previous twenty. I also created and started living my personal mission statement "to become the best version of myself to have the maximum impact on others". Every day I work to make this a reality.
Create your own Miracle Morning
Individualize the plan and make it your own. I started off doing SAVERS precisely as described in the book. For those struggling to start, you can do it 6 min; 1 min for each step. I quickly realized that I needed to make some adjustments to fit my personality.
I prefer practicing mindfulness in the evening before I go to bed. Meditation in the morning made me sleepy. Switching the practice to the night time has become a vital tool for me to beat insomnia. For those new to meditation, I recommend Headspace, 10% Happier, or Insight Timer.
I prefer to exercise after work. I run in the evenings. It calms my mind, and I can shed the stress from the day. For those "Type A" people like me needing a plan, try the app Couch to 5K.
My Miracle Morning
I set my alarm for 5:15. When the alarm goes off, I immediately get up. No snooze button.
Step 1: I step on the scale and type the number into Myfitness Pal. Weight management is a top priority for me, and stepping on the scale first thing in the morning helps me start the day with intentionality; today I am going to eat right and focus on my health.
Step 2: I move to the kitchen. While my coffee brews, I drink a large glass of water. This simple step is critical because our bodies get dehydrated through the night. I read an article or two on Medium. I do not check email, Facebook, or Twitter. No work allowed.
Step 3: Once the coffee is ready, I sit a comfortable chair, and I read an affirmation paragraph. The affirmation keeps me focused on my mission and values. Reading the paragraph out loud is an important step as it forces my mind to think through the words instead of just going through the motions.
Step 4: I open a book and read. I avoid reading anything in my industry and allow this quiet time to be truly mine. I choose books on personal growth, leadership, business, and fiction.
Step 5: When it is time to get ready for work, I do a quick downward dog yoga stretch followed by ten pushups. It is not enough exercise to sweat but enough to get the blood flowing.
Waking up early is not as hard as you think
Many people say they can never wake up early. From my experience, what was at first, an obstacle quickly evolved into motivation. I felt the benefits of an established routine so quickly that my mornings became the most important and enjoyable part of my day. I have become a better husband, father, physician, and entrepreneur by taking a few minutes each day to learn, grow and be present in the moment.