Reading Time: 38-53 minutes
Table Of Contents
- 1 Introduction
- 1.1 My Personal Experience With A Morning Ritual
- 1.2 The Two Primary Functions Of The Morning Ritual
- 1.3 Who Is This For?
- 2 Why You’re Not Focused / Not Living To Your Potential & How A Morning Ritual Can Help
- 3 Blueprint To Create A Great Morning Ritual
- 3.1 Define Your Specific Purpose For A Morning Ritual
- 3.2 Prepare For Your Morning Ritual: The Nighttime Ritual & How To Get Better Sleep
- 3.3 Nighttime Ritual: Essential Elements
- 3.4 Design Your Morning Ritual
- 3.5 Water/Hydration
- 3.6 Bathroom
- 3.7 Movement
- 3.8 A Nutritionally Rich Breakfast
- 3.9 Education & Inspiration
- 3.10 The Secret Sauce To Creating your Morning Ritual
- 4 How To Turn Your Morning Ritual Into A Permanent Habit
- 5 Troubleshooting & Customizing / Experimentation
- 6 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- 7 Quick Start Guide
- 8 The Compressed 11 minute, 15 Second Morning Ritual
In this guide I’m going to give you a step-by-step process to create a morning ritual that automatically:
- Provides you with energy that lasts all day
- De-clutters your mind
- Supplies willpower, motivation and focus to execute plans & work toward goals
A morning ritual is a tool consisting of healthy habits, energy-packed food and planning. It makes sure you’re prepared for the challenges of the day, consistently. It’s also designed to be something revitalizing that you can look forward to every morning.
If your energy and motivation fluctuate wildly from day to day, if you feel distracted at work, or if you procrastinate on tasks that could make your life better, then a morning ritual could be exactly what you need to get your focus back.
People who implement a morning ritual report feeling more clear-headed, energized and healthier than ever before. They feel that the morning ritual helps to create ‘momentum’ that carries them through the day.
Work and personal relationships improve as a result. And instead of worrying and stressing over problems, they have energy to work on solutions.
For many, the feeling of satisfaction and balance that a morning ritual can provide is even more important.
We all want to better our lives. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong out lives as they are, but as humans, we have a natural drive to improve our lives every day.
‘Moving forward’ in life is one of the most satisfying aims a person can have, and developing a morning ritual is an important first step to move forward faster.
You’ll see why as you keep reading. But first, I want to tell you about my own experience with the concept of the Morning Ritual.
My Personal Experience With A Morning Ritual
When I was in college I’d I wake up 10, 11, 12 in the morning. I was always a night owl.
It never felt like there was enough time in the day. But the truth is that I’d waste most days with distractions, and I’d only get real work done when the deadline came knocking.
In 2009, I managed to start a small content publishing business in my spare time. After my first few publishing successes, I had a small business. However, I didn’t have a boss to tell me what I needed to do, so I kept the same erratic schedule I had in school.
As a result, I couldn’t focus on what was important. My business couldn’t expand, and I didn’t feel like it was going anywhere. Work was never satisfying during this time, either. I was usually struggling to get work done.
Some days, however, I’d work for 12 hours straight. Usually when I was excited by an idea. But when that happened, I inevitably burned out. When I encountered even a sniff of failure or challenge, I’d give up. Yes, I had a business, but it rarely felt fulfilling. I didn’t feel in control of my day. And I didn’t know how to get control.
That is, until I learned how to develop a morning ritual. I first learned the concept of starting my day with a morning ritual in late 2014. I learned this from Eben Pagan, a business mentor and a very successful entrepreneur in his own right.
And in my research, I started to see a pattern of many other successful entrepreneurs and CEOs who credit the development of a morning ritual as a turing point to success in their lives.
Here’s a short list of notable people who have (or had) their own early-morning ritual:
- Virgin CEO Richard Branson: 545am
- General Motors’ CEO Dan Akerson: 430-5am
- Apple CEO Tim Cook: 430am
- Disney CEO Robert Iger: 430am
- Author & Leadership Expert Robin Sharma: 5am
- New Jersey Nets CEO Brett Yormark: 330am
- Cedar Fair Entertainment CEO Matt Ouimet: 530am
- Unilever CEO Paul Polman: 6am
- Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior: 430am
- Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz: 430am
- Benjamin Franklin: 5am
Now, I’m not suggesting you need to get up at 430am every day. As you can see, these successful people get up at different times, and they have different rituals.
The point of this book is that your ritual will probably be different as well. The blueprint is not something you will have to follow exactly. Rather, it’s a flexible system to develop a ritual that’s best for you.
Personally, I wake up at 650am these days. Sticking to my own morning ritual has made a surprising difference in my life. And I can still function if I stay up late a few nights of the week (though I admit there was a short adjustment period when I was a zombie in the evenings).
So, how does a morning ritual work? Well, it has two primary functions.
The Two Primary Functions Of The Morning Ritual
At the core, the Morning Ritual is a tool:
- To take control of your day, consistently, every single day. By using a morning ritual you are making a choice to focus only on what is truly important, and letting everything else go.
- To make yourself strong first, physically and mentally, before the day pulls you in a hundred different directions. This way, you meet the day focused and motivated, and you can effectively solve problems, deal with inevitable failures, and help others.
To develop my own morning ritual I’ve had to do a lot of reading, as well as experimentation in the laboratory of my own life. I’ve become a student of human potential.
It took years just to discover that I was capable of getting up early. Then it took months to develop a morning ritual that worked for my lifestyle.
I’ve already done the work to figure out how to develop a morning ritual. And I’m going to spill everything I’ve learned in this short guide. I’ve created a blueprint you can follow that will be your shortcut to an effective morning ritual.
Who Is This For?
If you’re interested in getting rid of your bad habits and forming new good habits that will form the basis of your lifestyle, the morning ritual is the first habit you should develop because after you have a solid morning ritual in place, other habits are easier to develop.
Maybe you’ve read about creating a morning habit before. But there’s a lot of conflicting information on how to create one that suits you and gets results for you. As you keep reading you’ll learn a framework to creating a flexible morning ritual that works for your lifestyle.
So even if you’re thinking:
- “I’m a zombie in the morning.”
- “I’m a night owl.”
- “There’s not enough time in the day to fit this in.”
- “I need to get more sleep at night, not less, Richard.”
- “I have kids and other obligations that make it hard to set time aside for myself.”
… this is designed to work for you, as well.
You need no special abilities to develop a morning ritual. You don’t even need to be a ‘morning person’ for this to work, as you’ll see. You only need to follow the step-by-step instructions in the guide to see for yourself.
This is primarily for entrepreneurs & freelancers, or anybody who sets their own schedule, including students, because that’s my experience. But this blueprint can be used by people who have normal 9-5 jobs as well.
Keep in mind that in this guide, I’m not going deep into the psychology & theory of why morning habits work.
I’ve taken the time to compress dozens of books and scientific articles on this subject into this concise, no-nonsense application guide, because I know the only things that are important are your results, and your time. This guide is conversational and to-the-point. I’ve pulled away all the fluff so just the practical step-by-step blueprint remains.
Important Note Before You Start…
First of all, remember to read the entire guide, front to back. It’s designed to be used as a whole. If you only use parts of the blueprint, you may miss something important, and it might not work for you.
Also, I need to warn you: when you start to implement your new ritual, you will probably be uncomfortable. You might feel tired in the evening. You might feel like you need another cup of coffee in the morning. This might last for a few weeks.
A bit of discomfort is inevitable when you try to change your habits. Your mind will come up with all kinds of excuses to quit. You’ll be tempted to stay up late, and you’ll want to lie back down when you get up early.
But soon, you’ll see that all these feelings are temporary. And more importantly, once you develop a strong morning ritual, you’ll see that all of your habits are more malleable than you ever thought possible. You will begin to feel like you can learn anything. As you might imagine, this is an incredibly exciting feeling.
Of course, I’m not asking you to believe me right now. I’m only asking you to try it for yourself.
In any case, if you want any kind of change in your life, you’re going to have to change the actions you take.
As W.L. Bateman said: “If you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep on getting what you’ve always got.”
The simple addition of a morning ritual has already been life-changing for many of the world’s most successful people. And it’s been life-changing for me, too.
So I’m honored to be the one to share this with you.
You’ve already taken the first step forward by opening this guide. Now, all you have to do is follow the proven plan I’ve laid out for you.
There’s no time to lose. Let’s begin!
Why You’re Not Focused / Not Living To Your Potential & How A Morning Ritual Can Help
How can a simple little ritual be so life-altering?
Well, here’s an example of a morning routine that won’t lead to a very good day:
You wake up and lay in bed staring at the ceiling for 10 minutes before deciding that you better get up. You reluctantly drag yourself to your closet, and you put on some clothes. You go to the bathroom for 10 minutes, and when you come out you immediately grab your phone and browse Facebook to see what your friends are complaining about today.
You sit down at the table and have a bowl of sugary cereal. You turn on the local news and watch the terrible things that happened the day before (with little accounting for the good things that happened, usually).
You get your things for work and rush out the door, distracted and in a bad mood.
Do something like that for a year, and see what happens to you.
On the other hand, if you simply change your morning so that it fills you with energy, positive motivation and excitement for achieving the things you want in your life, the trajectory of your day is completely shifted.
You see the rest of the day through a totally different filter.
When you wake up early, you have time to decide what you want you work on while your willpower is at its highest. You make yourself strong first, so you can help others.
So why not replace a dysfunctional habit with a fresh, positive, and useful one? Why not create an easy ritual that you’ll love doing and that’s sure to get you motivated day in, day out?
So if this can be so beneficial, why don’t most of us do this automatically?
And what’s keeping us from living successful, fulfilling lives?
Most habits, good or bad, crawl their way into our lives unnoticed. They’re subtle. We don’t realize that they’ve become automatic. And habits are hard to change because they give us a sense of security, stability and comfort.
Problem is, we don’t choose most of our habits. We develop them due to the environment we happen to find ourselves in, and many of them are not aligned with our goals. These are ‘bad’ habits, like poor eating habits and poor lifestyle habits, distraction and procrastination. These bad habits are the cause of mediocrity and failure.
So which habits cause us to feel distracted all day?
What is making us feel ‘stuck’ in our lives?
And why aren’t we living up to the potential we know we’re capable of reaching?
We don’t realize that every action has consequences, in terms of habit.
That is, we think that the actions we take today won’t affect the actions we take tomorrow.
For example, we think that if we skip the gym today, we’ll feel more like going to the gym tomorrow. Or we can watch TV now, and we’ll feel more like doing the assignment afterward.
But the truth is, every time you perform an action, you are building a habit. If you watch TV now, you’re not more likely to want to work later. You’re only more likely to want to watch more TV later. Every time you procrastinate on something, you’re just reinforcing the habit of procrastination. Procrastination will become easier and more natural.
What you do in this moment will reinforce the same action later on. So why not start taking actions that will build good habits? Why not make focus and motivation easier and more natural?
Creating a Morning Ritual is one of the best ways to create good habits, and to avoid distraction and procrastination. A morning ritual sets the tone for the day, so you’re more likely to take productive actions.
Instead of focusing on what’s important to us, we give in to distraction and we allow other people’s agendas to dictate our actions.
As a result, there never seems to be enough time in the day. We’re always in a hurry. It feels like there are so many things to do that you can’t even catch your breath.
But it’s not that there isn’t enough time in the day… Everybody gets the same amount of time, after all.
So is the problem bad time management? Well, not exactly.
You see, time can’t be managed. Or saved, or influenced by anything. It’s a relative, moving concept and it passes by no matter what we do. You can only use it properly, or waste it.
I find that it’s more useful to look at the problem as a problem of ‘ self management’. We need to manage how we feel. We need to manage our negative habits, and we need to manage our focus and motivation.
That way, we can make sure we’re taking only the most important actions that will move us closer to our goals at all times. Not just reacting to the demands of others.
There was a time when I had become very distracted with technology. I’d check Facebook and Email every 10 minutes. I’d check my website stats. I’d message people back at any time of the day, even if I was doing something more important at the time.
I was training myself to expect distractions, so I was always distracted by something.
There came a point when I had to ask myself: Does checking my email every 10 minutes move me closer to my goals? Will checking website stats make more visitors come to my website? Of course, all these actions were useless. Seeing messages on social media and visitors to my website are nothing but quick shots of dopamine that made me feel like I was making progress.
The only thing that creates results in business is creating products and assets and driving people to them. For me, that was writing website content, writing books, and advertising.
Once I made the change to stop checking messages and stats, I started getting real work done. That’s when I started to get results and grow my business, and that’s when I started feeling more fulfilled by my work. And because I stopped being so reactionary, I started to feel like there was plenty of time every day and I had more free time. Even though I was getting a LOT more done.
Lack of purpose.
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where –”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Purpose is the driving force behind motivation. With a strong purpose, it’s easy to get up in the morning and work toward your goals.
Without a strong purpose, it’s hard to find the drive to do much of anything. You find yourself torn between multiple goals, and you’re constantly distracted.
Purpose is like a magnifying glass that focuses the sun. It feeds energy into one goal that unifies your energy. Napoleon Hill called purpose ‘burning desire’ in his book Think and Grow Rich (which a remarkable number of successful people credit for their success).
Luckily, you don’t have to wait for purpose to come to you. Purpose can be cultivated, and the morning ritual can be used to make sure that you cultivate purpose every day.
Lack of Structure, Accountability and Urgency
Sometimes it’s nice to feel like you’ve got no plans for the day. Like anything could happen.
But anybody who’s been bored after their first few months of retirement will tell you: human beings crave structure, habit and purpose. When this structure breaks down, it’s very hard to feel fulfilled.
Not having structure, accountability and urgency leaves your day open to chance of interruption and distraction with meaningless tasks. And it’s almost impossible to feel satisfied after a day filled with distraction.
But when you have structure, you automatically know what you need to be doing during the day. It’s easier to get work done and to feel satisfied knowing you’re working towards a goal.
When you have accountability and urgency, (such as others who expect some kind of progress from you, or deadlines), it’s easier to focus on what you need to be doing every day.
We allow energy-draining habits into our lives.
It’s deceptively hard to tell, but relaxing activities usually just make you lazy.
It’s tempting to watch TV for 30 minutes before work because it’s easy, and it feels good. It might even seem like it will make you more motivated to start work, because it feels ‘relaxing’.
But the truth is that it usually just drains your energy to work towards your goals.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s great to have diversion from work once and a while. You need to recharge.
But the problem with activities like TV is that it isn’t very recharging, and it’s addictive. It draws you in, and you’re forced to think about a fictional narrative, rather than the narrative of your own life.
Have you ever watched a TV marathon, and dreamt about the show all night? Wouldn’t it be more exciting to be dreaming about your own goals?
An hour of TV to relax before bed is OK, but when you start watching 3-4 hours per day, you’ll probably start to see motivation problems when you try to do other work. Watching a TV marathon on Sunday will drain your drive come Monday morning.
I’m not saying you should stop watching TV altogether (I’m guilty of indulging in Dexter and Sopranos marathons myself), but just that you need to realize that all of your actions are interconnected.
Other bad habits include eating junk food, and not getting enough exercise.
Processed foods are everywhere these days. They’re designed to be cheaply manufactured, taste better and sell more… but they don’t take nutrition into account. Eating processed foods may cause low energy, or an energy roller coaster during the day, which makes it impossible to focus on what you want to get done.
And often, living a busy life makes it hard to fit exercise into the day. Unfortunately, when we go without exercise for long enough, metabolism slows and base energy levels drop. As a result, we have less energy, less willpower, and less focus to get things done every day.
Surrounding ourselves with negative people and thoughts.
There’s a saying that you become the average of your 5 closest friends.
In my experience this is true. Mindset and ambition are contagious. And your mindset dictates the actions you take, and the actions you take dictate your success.
Therefore, the more you’re exposed to the mindset of ‘successful’ people, the more successful you’ll become. And the more you’re exposed to negative mindsets, the less successful you’ll become.
So it’s your job to actively seek out like minded people who respect and support you.
Don’t know any people who are like that, or don’t know how to meet them? No problem.
Start by following the books and courses taught by people who have already achieved what you want. Let these people become your ‘mentors’ (even if they aren’t alive anymore).
As Ralph Waldo Emerson said:
“You become what you think about all day long.”
The more you expose yourself to thoughts that help you improve and motivate you to contribute to the world, the more you’ll improve. The more you expose yourself to negative thoughts and negative news stories, the more you’ll spend your time worrying instead of improving and contributing.
Where The Morning Habit Comes In…
These six reasons contribute to distraction, lack of motivation, and ultimately, mediocrity.
This is where the morning ritual comes in… You see, the amazing thing about creating your own ritual is that it solves all these problems at once.
Your morning ritual will automatically:
- Solidify a ‘decision’ in your mind to attack the day, so procrastination becomes irrelevant
- Provide focus for tasks that matter, & eliminate distractions
- Make it effortless to wake up every morning
- Motivate and inspire you
- Make time for self-improvement and good influences
- Provide momentum that leads into the rest of the day, so you don’t need to force yourself to get work done
All these things are built-in to the morning ritual.
And I’m about to give you a full blueprint and system of experimentation to create your own personalized morning habit that works for you.
So let’s get into it, shall we?
Your productivity is an asset as much as your knowledge and education is. And you can nurture and cultivate productivity, motivation and focus.
It all starts with the morning habit. Before you do anything that has a chance of bogging you down, your morning ritual makes sure you start the day with energy, a positive attitude, and a focus on what’s important.
An important thing to remember is that there’s no cookie cutter solution for every person. Chances are you won’t be able to steal the ritual of somebody else. You need to create a ritual that’s perfect for you.
I’ve designed this guide to take care of that for you. To do that, I’m going to give you the 5 essential goals of any effective morning ritual, plus components you can choose that will give you flexibility. You’ll also learn how to create a Nighttime Ritual (which is actually just as important as your morning ritual).
Then I’m going to show you how to wake up early, how to get better sleep every night, and also how to turn it into a permanent habit that you look forward to every day.
And if you’ve never tried to implement a morning ritual before, don’t you worry. I have you covered in the next sections.
Blueprint To Create A Great Morning Ritual
The first step to creating your morning ritual is to write down the Reasons Why you want to use one in your life.
There are plenty of general reasons. First of all, you can use it to take control of the day into your own hands before the day begins to control you with pressures and stress and requests from other people.
After all, time is the most precious thing you have. You can never get back time that you don’t use to it’s potential.
The morning ritual allows you to PROTECT your focus and your productivity.
It allows you to bend all your energy towards the goal you want to accomplish, instead of wasting brain power worrying about the news, emails you have to respond to, facebook updates etc… That is the ultimate goal.
As Robin Sharma says, “Focus is more valuable than intelligence.”
So, as you now know, there are plenty of great reasons to create a morning ritual.
But what do you want your morning ritual to help you with? If you want to stick to your morning ritual, you need to have a clear purpose for it.
Define Your Specific Purpose For A Morning Ritual
By this, I mean the specific goals you want to accomplish in your life.
To start, write down the goals you wish to accomplish with your morning ritual. Maybe you want:
- More energy to get more work done & feel more satisfied at the end of the day
- To create a new business/build a side project
- To make sure you take time for self-improvement / learning
- Better fitness
- Learn a new language
- Write a book
Write down exactly what you’re going to do to accomplish your goals. If you want to write a book, write down that you’ll commit to writing 1000 words per day. If you want to be more fit, commit to 30 minutes of exercise every morning.
Your morning ritual is going to afford you a specific amount of extra energy, time and motivation every day. So make a plan to use that extra energy with a specific task.
The next step is to write your goals down somewhere you’ll see them every day. I have them written down on a list in my phone that I review a few times per day, but you could also post them on your refrigerator or on your bathroom mirror.
Now that you have the Reason Why for your morning ritual in mind, I’m going to show you exactly how to plan and implement a ritual in your life.
Prepare For Your Morning Ritual: The Nighttime Ritual & How To Get Better Sleep
Though the Morning Ritual gets you focused for the day and makes you productive, a Nighttime Ritual is actually just as important.
That’s because prepares you for a perfect morning ritual.
After all, the biggest concern for people who want to start their own morning ritual is that they won’t get enough sleep. “What’s the point of waking up early if I’m too tired to get anything done, anyway?”
The nighttime ritual will help with that. So in this section I’m going to give you a step-by-step method for creating a nighttime ritual, and getting a better sleep consistently.
Important tips for better sleep
People are sleeping less than ever in our busy culture. According to Gallup polls, over 40% of adult Americans sleep less than 6 hours per night, compared with only 11% in 1942.
If you have problems sleeping, here are some factors that affect good sleep that you can try to avoid:
Try to take care of as many of these as you can before trying to wake up early.
- Excessive light in the evening
- Jet lag and shift work
- Pain, anxiety and medical conditions
- Substances such as caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and medications such as antihistamines, beta blockers, alpha blockers and antidepressants can interfere with our natural sleep cycle
- Excessive noise
- Temperature – too cold or too hot
- Eating within ~2 hours of bedtime
- Exercise late at night
- Too much water before bed (which forces you to wake during the night), or not enough (which causes dehydration)
If you need help sleeping, here are a few effective sleep tips (originally designed to help insomniacs) that could be helpful to you:
- Stay out of bed when you can’t sleep. If you lie in bed for more than 20 minutes without falling asleep, get up and do something relaxing, like reading.
- Keep clocks out of the bedroom. If you need an alarm to wake up, set it in another room.
- Try to play a white noise or ambient noise soundtrack to help you fall asleep. This is relaxing and it will disguise other, more distracting noises.
- You can search youtube for some ambient noise tracks: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=ambie… Or this artist: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=brian…
- Leave phones and computers in another room so you’re not tempted to check them in bed.
- Only go to bed when you’re truly tired, and don’t TRY to fall asleep. Lying in bed, content to stay awake, has been shown to help insomnias fall asleep more quickly, and to get a sounder sleep. Taking this attitude removes anxiety you have about not being able to fall sleep.
- Only associate the bedroom with sleep or sex. Don’t watch TV in bed & don’t go into the bedroom until you’re ready for sleep.
- Turn your bedroom into the perfect sleeping environment. It should be quiet, cool, and dark. Use a white noise generator or earplugs to remove distracting noises. Keep the temperature at a cool ~65-70 degrees F (18-21 degrees C). Use heavy drapes or an eye mask to block out light, and remove all sources of artificial light.
- Keep your internal sleep clock set by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, consistently.
- If you take naps during the day but sleeping at night is hard for you, try to take earlier naps, go to sleep later, or cut them out of your sleep schedule altogether.
- Create the perfect wind-down routine to get ready to go to sleep (more about how to do that in the next pages)
Other quick tips you can experiment with:
- Sleep naked under warm covers.
- Take a warm bath before bed.
- 10 minunte stretch routine before bed.
- Grooming (yourself or your partner)
- Give a massage or receive a massage
- Meditation or relaxation exercises.
- Dim the lights an hour before bed, and light a scented candle or the fireplace.
To create a sleep strategy,the next step is to determine how much sleep you actually need.
Determine How Much Sleep You Need
According to the Mayo Clinic, the average adult needs 7-8 hours of sleep per night. But everybody’s different. There are some people who are genetically predisposed to need as little as 5 or 6 hours of sleep.
Keep in mind that sleep quality is just as important as sleep quantity. If you’re a restless sleeper, you might find that you actually need less time in bed once you get a more restful sleep every night.
But you’ll need to experiment to figure this out for sure.
If you’ve been waking up with an alarm clock every morning, there’s a chance that you’re accumulating ‘sleep debt’ that needs to be repaid.
To find out the real amount of time you need to sleep, start going to bed earlier for a few nights and try to wake up before your alarm clock. This will clear out any sleep debt you’ve accumulated. When you start waking up before your alarm clock regularly, you’ll probably notice that you sleep for the same amount of time each night.
That’s the amount of time your body needs to sleep each night.
After you know how much time you need to sleep, you can plan to go to sleep at the right time in order to wake up at your target waking time.
Many people suggest that you should get to know your body’s sleep rhythms, but I find that’s unnecessary. Unless you are preparing to sleep on a polyphasic sleep schedule (where you sleep in two or more blocks per day), you’ll end up with the same outcome, whether you know your sleep rhythm or not.
You just need to know the amount of time you need to sleep, and plan for the most restful sleep you can get.
So I’ll show you how to do that.
When you change your sleep schedule, there will be an adjustment period, and it will probably result in some restless nights. After you establish a solid routine to wake up at the exact same time, though, you will find that you tend to wake at the same time, no matter when you go to bed.
Nighttime Ritual: Essential Elements
Though you get results from the work you do in the morning, an effective nighttime ritual is just as important as the morning ritual.
The purpose of a nighttime ritual is to:
- Prepare yourself for a great, revitalizing sleep
- Lead into the morning ritual.
So even though each of your rituals are flexible, there are three essential elements of any nighttime ritual that you need to hit in order to make it effective.
- Making Your Morning Ritual Effortless
- Winding Down
Here’s how to include each of these in your morning ritual and what their functions are:
Writing has two purposes. First, to help clear your head of any stress that’s been building up during the day, and second, to plan how you can improve your productive habits.
Start by planning what you’re going to do tomorrow, hour by hour. You may also put things into your calendar that you need to do a few days from now. Write down what you absolutely need to get done tomorrow (I like to call these my Most Important Tasks, or MITs), and then what is secondary after you get these tasks done.
This serves two purposes: First, the things that you schedule are the things that tend to get done. If you don’t put them into your schedule at a specific time, chances are you won’t get around to them. And second, it gets them out of your head.
If you don’t write them down, they’ll automatically keep cycling around in your head. You mind naturally wants to make sure that you don’t forget, so you’ll keep worrying about them all night long.
It’s another one of those caveman adaptations.
By writing them down, you’re trusting yourself to get them done later, so you can forget about them and relax before going to bed.
Next, write down how last night’s ritual went, and how this morning’s ritual went today. Analyze how your day progressed afterward. What could you change about your morning ritual that would make it more effective? How can you adapt your rituals to make them more effective?
Making Your Morning Ritual Effortless
Next, you’ll prepare your house, and your mind, so that your morning ritual is effortless.
Do these things after writing:
- Drink a glass of water and fill one you’ll drink in the morning
- Prepare the clothes you’ll put on when you jump out of bed
- Use the bathroom and clean up for the night.
- Do the dishes and any other household chores so you don’t have to worry about them at all in the morning
- Visualize your morning routine. Like a boxer shadowboxes his opponent before fighting him, prepare your mind so that your morning ritual goes exactly as you plan it. It needs to become a ‘program’ that will automatically give you willpower to face the day.Go though all the steps in your mind… See yourself jumping out of bed and going through each step of your morning ritual, one by one. Of course, you’ll need a plan for your morning ritual first. You’ll develop yours as you read the next section of this guide.(I know that this visualization sounds a little weird. Believe me, I thought it was strange before the first time I tried it, too. But trust me, it will make all the difference in your ability to change your morning. All you have to do is try it to see that it will work for you.)
- Lastly, set your alarm. I highly recommend that you keep it out of your bedroom, so that you have to get up to turn it off. After you’re up, just don’t go back to bed. This makes it impossible to hit the snooze button!
Winding down has a lot to do with preference. Some things are stressful to certain people, while they are relaxing to others. You’ll have to experiment to see what helps you relax.
Many things you can do to wind down have already been covered in the section on how to get a great sleep, but here are a few more quick suggestions to try:
- Watch an episode of your favorite TV series
- Take a bath
- Give or receive a massage
- Read a fictional book (one that won’t keep you up thinking)
- Meditate or do relaxation exercises
- Put on some calming music
- Go for a light walk
- Turn down the lights & light some candles
After you wind down, give yourself about 20 minutes to fall asleep.
Your nighttime routine should last about 1.5 -2 hours before bed.
Here’s an example, if your bedtime is 11 o’clock:
- 900-920 Writing/Planning
- 920-940 Chores
- 940-1040 TV show/walk
- 1040 Lights out.
Now you know that you have to start your nighttime ritual at 9 o’clock.
On Late Nights:
Of course, you might be out late on weekends, and you won’t be able to stick to this ritual. So I suggest that you try to take care of all the chores and writing/planning earlier in the day, and do something quick to wind down when you get in late (~10 minutes). For example, take a quick shower, listen to some relaxing music, or have a tea. Then hit the sack.
Try to get up at the same time the next morning as you usually do, or no more than 1 hr later. When I was trying to solidify this habit, sleeping in on the weekend would throw me off for the rest of the week. Instead of sleeping in on Sunday morning, it’s better to catch up on sleep by going to bed earlier Sunday night.
After a while of getting up at the same time, you’ll find that you start to wake up at that time, no matter what. If you usually wake up at 7am, you’ll be wide awake at 7am even if you go to bed at 4am. You won’t even have to try anymore, and you’ll feel great every monring. That’s the power of habit.
Design Your Morning Ritual
Now that we’re done preparing, it’s time to dive in to the mechanics of how the morning ritual works, and how to design your perfect ritual.
Just like the nighttime ritual, there are also some essential elements to the morning ritual that you need to include, in one way or another.
- A Nutritionally Rich Breakfast
- Self-Reflection & Goals
- Education & Inspiration
Here’s how to include each one in your morning ritual:
After you wake up, you’ve just gone ~7-8 hours without drinking any water. So you’re at least mildly dehydrated.
Of course, the body is mostly water, so it needs a lot of it to function properly. WebMD says that even when you’re mildly dehydrated, there are subtle symptoms like fatigue, decreased willpower and concentration difficulties.
You’ll need all the energy and willpower you can muster, so the first thing you need to do in the morning is to down a full glass of water to hydrate yourself!
You’ll find that you wake up faster and feel less groggy when you do this.
In your nighttime ritual, you already prepared a bottle of water. Since it’s been sitting out all night, it’s now at room temperature and it’ll be easy to drink.
You can also choose to drink hydrating beverages other than water alone:
- Fresh water with freshly squeezed lemon. You can also add ginger, mint and/or honey
- Warm water with honey and cinnamon
- Freshly squeezed fruit and veggie juice
- Fruit-infused water etc
This step is pretty self-explanatory and I’m sure you already get to it in your present morning routine.
Obviously you have to wash your face, brush your teeth etc. But we need to include it here, because it’s useful to plan out exactly what you’re going to do in your morning ritual.
As you’ll see, your morning ritual needs to be exactly the same every morning. There’s no room for running back and forth if you forget to do something, and going back to the bathroom 3 or 4 times. The purpose is to streamline your morning and fire out the door like you just dropped down a greased chute.
Because of that, the actions you do during the ritual need to cover:
- all the things that are necessary before leaving the house, including all the things you need to do in the bathroom
- plus the things that will give you more energy and motivation to carry you through the day
The next thing to integrate into your morning ritual is ‘movement’. Something that gets your blood flowing and makes you feel full of vim and vigor.
The important thing to realize about movement is that physical movement can translate into mental movement. When you get your body moving, you’re changing your body chemistry. Stimulating chemicals are flowing through your blood and you’re more alert and activated.
So that’s the next thing you want to do in the morning.
Even if it’s the winter where you live and it’s -20 C (-4 F) outside, you should still find some way to get your movement in in the morning. It’s the best way to beat the winter blues.
Personally, I’m pretty addicted to getting outside for a walk or run. On days when I don’t go, I usually feel miserable until I do. Because I currently live in Toronto, Canada, I get a warm snowsuit together the night before when it’s going to be freezing out.
Of course, that might be a bit extreme for some people. There are other options, after all.
Such as 10 minutes of:
- Treadmill, stationary bike, weight lifting, if you own fitness equipment at home
- Bodyweight exercises (push-ups, crunches, pull-ups)
- Warm up exercises & stretching (jumping jacks, arm circles, joint rotations, running on the spot)
Even if you choose to exercise indoors, it’s a good idea to do it by a window and let some fresh air in. One of the great things about getting outside is the fresh air and the sunrise.
The benefits of a regular morning exercise are:
- Instant energy & the ability to wake up faster – no more grogginess
- Faster metabolism
- Stress relief & clearer mind
- Burning calories
- Building physical and mental strength
- Boost of confidence
Make sure you’re prepared for your morning movement from the night before.
If you do yoga, have your mat and other equipment at hand. If you go out running, keep your running shoes at the door. Your exercise equipment and clothing should be clean, fresh and ready for the morning. It’s best to prepare during your nighttime ritual.
A Nutritionally Rich Breakfast
To give yourself the most energy possible in the morning, don’t skimp on breakfast. Eat a nutritious breakfast that will keep you energized throughout the day.
How do you do that? There are only a few things that you need to keep in mind:
- Eat a breakfast high in protein & relatively low in sugars. Protein keeps you feeling full and digests slowly, so you energy doesn’t spike and fall.
- High in fibre, for slow digestion, and to avoid blood sugar spikes
- Healthy fats.
- Complex carbohydrates instead of white, refined carbohydrates and starches.
It’s best to keep it well-rounded and simple.
A Note on Coffee: If you notice your energy plummets a few hours after drinking a cup of coffee, or if you’re relying on coffee for energy, it’s probably time to cut coffee down to one cup per day, or to completely cut it out.
Hey, I love coffee too, so I know what it’s like to be torn on this issue. But the truth is, it’s probably affecting your ability to concentrate and your sleep more than you think.
When you cut it down to 5-7 cups per week, you’re thinking will become more clear, and your energy will become more stable. You’ll also appreciate your delicious daily brew even more… instead of shooting it back like Buckley’s cough syrup.
There are also many common foods that could be draining your energy, or setting you up for an energy crash later in the day.
Here are sone breakfast foods to avoid:
- White bread (replace with multi-grain bread, beans, lentils or chickpeas)
- Fruit juices such as orange juice (stripped of fibre to slow digestion and prevent insulin spikes, a cup of fruit juice is basically a cup of refined sugar with a few vitamins)
- Sugary cereals
- Fatty meats such as bacon and sausage
- Processed foods
- Potatoes (replace with sweet potatoes)
Here are some suggestions for a nutritious, energy-packed breakfast:
- Protein shake with fruits and vegetables
- Eggs (just the whites if you have a problem with cholesterol)
- Multi-grain bread
- Avocado (Guacamole!)
- Sweet potatoes
- Low-fat meat options such as turkey bacon or chicken
- Fruits, nuts & berries
- Lentils, beans & chickpeas
Tim Ferris suggests that you only choose a few meal options that you like, and then eat them every day. You can mix and match a few for variety, but mostly, keep what you eat consistent. This will save you time, and your body will become efficient at digestion.
Keep it simple. I usually spend one day of the week making 5-6 servings of 2-3 different healthy dishes. Then, I can eat them for the entire week without having to cook again. That means I’m not tempted by fast food because my healthy food is actually easier to prepare!
Some of the many benefits of a well-constructed breakfast are:
- Long-lasting energy
- Mental sharpness throughout the day
- Better physical performance
- No distracting hunger
- Better long-term health
- Self-Reflection & Goals
The next component of your morning ritual should be a few minutes to reflect on what your goals are, and what you want to get out of the day.
Sometimes it feels like every day is the same, and what happened yesterday is probably going to happen again today…
But the truth is that every day holds an amazing amount of potential for change. Only thing is, it’s on you to make change happen.
And if you don’t spend time each day to review what you’ve done and plan changes to your normal routine, chances are you’ll repeat the same pattern over and over. To get anywhere, you need to know where you are right now.
The good news is that this only takes a few minutes every morning. Write down the work you did yesterday & review the list of goals you want to accomplish.
Sidenote: When it comes to goals, don’t be afraid to dream BIG. Small goals rarely get accomplished because they don’t get you excited. Big goals make you motivated and excited about something that could be amazing. Big goals create motivation for you, while small goals suck it from you.
Another way to put it is that big goals PULL you toward them, while you need to PUSH yourself toward small goals. And even if you don’t accomplish you big goals, chances are you’ll get most of the way there, and you’ll accomplish more than you ever would have with a small goal.
After you review your list of goals, review the most important tasks you’ve got to accomplish today. Make sure they are helping you to accomplish your big goals (if they aren’t, what’s the point of doing them?).
Revise the list of tasks & create a timetable for doing them today.
Education & Inspiration
Since you’re reading this book, I’m sure you know the value of consistent self-improvement. But like most people, it might be hard for you to find time for it during a busy day.
So why not incorporate it into your morning ritual? That way, you always get it out of the way first thing, and you can immediately use what you learn during the day.
There are a number of things that you can learn each morning:
- You can learn more about your own career (read material written by leaders in your field)
- You can learn new skills (watch videos/read books about new skills you want to learn)
- You can watch inspirational videos by successful people who have already achieved the goals you want to achieve (eg. if you’re a rock climber, watch some rock climbing videos). Think of these people as your ‘mentors’.
- You can learn better productivity / motivational skills to make you better at getting things done in general. Stephen Covey called this ‘sharpening the saw’. (You can read how-to books like this one!)
Since “you become what you think about all day long”, why not immerse yourself in positive & productive thoughts?
More options to integrate into your morning ritual:
- Immediately expose yourself to light when you get up. Open the blinds if it’s late enough to see the sunrise, and turn all the lights on, as bright as they go.
- Literally JUMP out of bed in the morning. Right when you get up. Don’t lie awake in bed, it only leads to more laziness.
- Meditation.Many people think of meditation as something that’s only done by monks. But meditation, in its most basic form, is just developing your ability to be more aware of the present moment, rather than tangled up in worries about the past and present. You won’t need to shave your head or anything.And scientific evidence keeps piling up on the benefits of mindfulness meditation. It’s no longer just an element of an Eastern religion, but a legitimate psychological therapy.If you’re even a little interested in meditation, I’ll tell you what to expect: In the beginning, you’ll notice how your mind races and all sorts of thoughts emerge. After a few days, though, you’ll learn to let them go by focusing on the moment you’re in (usually by focusing on the breath).At the start, it is harder than you ever imagined to focus on one simple thing. But the more you do it, the easier it becomes. And that calm and focus that you force yourself to use in meditation translates to calm and focus for everything else in your life, including work.There’s more to it, but that’s the main core of mindfulness meditation. Adding this habit to your morning ritual can help you meet the day with a serene, clear mind. Your thoughts will be more organized and as a result, your stress levels will decrease.After all, everything you do gets done in the present moment. If you’re interested in getting more done, having a clearer, focused mind will help. Meditation can be used as a tool to hone your focus.You can think of meditation as heavy weight training for the mind.
If you’re interested, I suggest starting with the book Mindfulness In Plain English by Henepola Gunaratana. You’ll learn the uses of mindfulness and the easiest way to start. It’s very empirical, by the way, and no religious affiliation is required.
- WritingThe quiet morning, before the entire world wakes up, is one of the best times to write. This could mean writing down your ideas, writing a journal, writing a book, or writing some other kind of content. It really doesn’t matter if the writing is good or bad, as long as you try to enjoy getting your ideas down, and you make it a habit.(Even when I write something I’m going to share with others, I make a point to write a REALLY bad first draft, so there’s no pressure… I only start to sound like ‘myself’ after 2 or 3 edits.)If you want to write early in the morning, decide on how many words you’ll write each day and give yourself a time frame. Some aspiring writers/artists/entrepreneurs think they need to be “inspired” or to “be in the right mood” before they start work.But the fact is that inspiration is just an outcome of discipline.As Twyla Tharp recounts in her book The Creative Habit, once you make ‘creating’ a habit, inspiration will begin to flow.Whether you like it or not, when you sit down to work and research, a thought will develop. And from that thought, something else will develop. Keep writing down your ideas and exposing yourself to research and education, and you’ll notice that your creative juices will start flowing. Stay stagnant and ‘wait’ for inspiration to come, and believe me, it probably never will.Take it from Picasso: “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”
The Secret Sauce To Creating your Morning Ritual
Now that you know all the components that need to be integrated into your morning ritual, you’re ready to create your own unique plan.
Start with something basic, and plan exactly what you’re going to do and where you’re going to go.
Now, here’s the secret:
You’re going to link it together so that it’s effortless every morning. If it takes even a bit of effort and thought to execute your morning ritual, you’re wasting brain power, and that defeats the purpose.
So during your nighttime ritual, plan every action you’re going to take in a way that makes it easy to know what the next action is.
Here are a few examples of what I mean by that.
- Place your jogging clothes and your water next to your alarm clock in the next room, so you know that the next thing is to drink water and go for a jog.
- Have the food you’re going to make for breakfast out, so you can prepare it quickly when you come back in from your jog.
- Have your list of goals ready at the table so you remember to review them after you eat.
- Have the book you’re going to read ready, or at know the topic you’re going to learn about. And so on.
Linking each action together like this will make your morning routine dead-simple for you. Remember that you need to make it as easy as possible to execute every action because you’re tried and groggy in the morning (at least in the beginning). But don’t worry, it will become automatic after a few weeks.
Here’s a checklist of things you need to prepare for your morning ritual:
- The time you’re going to jump out of bed
- Where your water is
- Where your jogging clothes & running shoes are
- The route you’re going to take on your morning walk / where you’re going to get exercise & for how long
- What you’re going to eat
- Where your list of most important tasks are
- What you’re going to learn in the morning
- What clothes you’re going to wear when/if you go out, and where your bags are
It’s best to review this checklist during your nighttime ritual until it becomes second nature.
How To Turn Your Morning Ritual Into A Permanent Habit
How do you make sure that it’s effortless to wake up every morning and start your morning habit?
Well, the best way is to turn it into an automatic habit. The ability to form habits is one of the most powerful tools in your productivity arsenal.
After you turn your morning ritual into a habit, you won’t need to fight yourself to wake up every morning. You won’t need to put effort into each part of the ritual anymore. You won’t need to think about it at all. It will just ‘happen’.
Normally we form habits that aren’t so controlled… Things like biting our nails or licking our lips – or even worse – things like gambling or alcoholism. These bad habits form naturally from repeatedly giving in to cravings.
But when you form a habit for the morning ritual, it’s an automatic habit that is positive. It adds value to your life and makes it easier for you to accomplish goals.
Now, these days ‘habit forming’ has become popular in self-development literature, and people have devised many ways to form good habits. There is also a lot of misinformation out there that will make it harder for you to form habits.
Some people suggest that habits come from a system of Cue, Routine, Reward. That means that you get some kind of environmental Cue (you sit down on the couch at the end of a long day), that leads to a Routine (you watch 4 hrs of TV), and that gives you a Reward (you feel entertained and relaxed).
But the truth is that there are lots of habits that we form without rewards at all. Yes, there’s a lot of evidence to support that rewards are required to form good habits, but most of that evidence comes from studies done on lab animals…
We’re humans, however. And we’ve got much higher levels of self-awareness due to our enlarged prefrontal cortex, which is unique in the animal kingdom. Therefore, we aren’t as controlled by our animal drives, and we have a much stronger ability to intentionally control actions we perform every day.
Rewards make an action easier to execute in the beginning, but the ONLY real key is repetition. Even if the action is painful. If an action is repeated, it will eventually become engrained in habit.
For example, people who have to get up in the morning and sit in rush hour to go a job that they hate, or a new father who has to get up at 2am every day to feed a crying baby. We’re self-aware enough to know we have to do these things, even though they don’t feel good.
And though these people don’t like these activities, they eventually become ‘adapted’ and the activities become easier. After a long enough time, it might even seem that there’s no alternative.
Also, the old Cue, Routine, Reward model suggested by animal experimentation doesn’t really provide a way to form good habits. It only analyzes one way habits can be formed.
The best model I’ve found to form good habits is the PARR method from The Habit Factor by Martin Grunberg. PARR stands for Plan, Act, Record, Reassess.
It’s a simple system, but it’s powerful in practice.
The PARR Method To Forming Habits
Here’s how it works:
The Plan Stage
You set up the new habit you want to create in this stage. You should plan it in a way that it’s easy to execute. It shouldn’t be too hard at the start.
You want to be able to do it the first time you try it, and you should be able to do it every day you plan to do it.
An important tip about planning habits: You don’t need to execute a habit every single day to make it permanent! In fact, for the first few weeks, you SHOULD take a few rest days every week. If you’re trying to learn piano, for example, a good first goal you’d set in the planning stage might be to practice piano scales for 10 minutes per day Monday to Friday. Saturday and Sunday are optional. For the morning ritual, I suggest you plan to sleep in an hour later on Saturday and Sunday.
This gives you some room to breathe. It won’t feel like you ‘have’ to do it every single day. And after you take a few days off from your habit, you might even start to miss it… absence makes the heart grow fonder, after all.
Later on, though, you WILL want to wake up at the same time every single day. It’s inevitable once your habit is engrained, I promise you.
The Act Stage
This stage is self-explanatory. You perform the habit whenever you plan to carry it out.
The Recording Stage
This stage allows you to see where you’re at now, so you can decide what to do next. Take a minute to do this every single day, even if it’s your day off from the habit. Just write down your current state of your motivation to execute the activity, what you’ve done well, and what can be improved today. After a while, recording becomes it’s own reward, and actually makes it easier to perform the habit.
When recording, either record Yes, that you did the habit, or No, that you didn’t. Don’t get into ‘how much’ you did of it, or ‘how well’ you did it.
For example, if your goal was to write 2000 words, write down that you did it, or that you didn’t do it. Don’t write down, “well, I wrote about 1700 words… I guess that’s good enough to check it off for today…”. Instead, if you only write 1700 words, write down that you didn’t complete your goal. Then you will be able to get ideas about how you can make it easier to reach 2000 words. This allows you to keep it simple, and to keep improving.
And of course, if your goal was to execute your morning habit, you either did the complete ritual or you didn’t. No in-betweens.
The Reassessment Stage
In this stage, you review what you’ve recorded about the habits you’re trying to form. If you’ve missed a bunch of days over the past week, you can either try to change something in your environment that will make the habit easier next week, or you can lower the amount of work required to check a ‘Yes’ off on your calendar.
If you can’t write 2000 words a day, maybe you can try to work at a new desk with less distractions, or you can use a timer to work. If you don’t think that will work, you can try to set a new goal at 1500 words a week.
Once you can write those 1500 words per day, every time you plan to write, try to go back up to 2000 words, or maybe try 2500 words. As it becomes more automatic, you’ll find better ways to get it done, you’ll be less distracted, and you’ll be more focused. After a while, you’ll be surprised at how much better you’ll become.
After you’re able to easily perform a habit every day, keep upping the ante.
PARR in the Morning Ritual
As you might be able to see, I’ve already included many of the PARR elements in the morning and nighttime rituals. So you just have to execute the morning and nighttime rituals as I’ve already described, and it will become easier and easier for you.
You can either create a paper calendar or a software program to keep track of your habits. There are many convenient apps you can use to keep track of your habits, and I’ll tell you about a few I’ve used in a moment.
If you want to use a paper calendar, you can use a monthly calendar and simply circle the days you want to execute your habit (for example, if you want to perform your morning ritual Monday to Friday, then put a circle inside all the days except Saturdays and Sundays). As you execute your habit every day, put a checkmark inside the box. If you fail to execute your habit, put an X inside the box.
If you want to form 2-3 habits at a time, you can place multiple circles inside the days where you want to execute each habit. Use colored pencils to indicate which habit is which.
NOTE: When forming more than 1 habit at a time, you’ll need to keep each habit small at the beginning. If you’re too ambitious and your habits aren’t automatic yet, it will be hard to pull off all these new activities at once. Keep in mind that you have a limited amount of willpower to form new habits each day.
How Long Will It Take To Form A Habit?
There are conflicting reports on how long it takes to form a habit. Studies place the length it takes for form a new habit anywhere from 21-150+ days. One study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology conducted by Dr. Phillippa Lally determined that habits took anywhere from 18 to 254 days to become automatic.
The length usually depends on the complexity of your habit and your personal inclination to performing the activity.
Instead of focusing on how long it will take, the only key you need to remember is that it’s hardest at the beginning, but immediately gets easier as you keep it up. Just keep in mind why you want to do the activity, and keep to your plan, and you’ll prevail.
The 30 Day Challenge
There’s little debate that after ~30 days of executing a habit, it will be MUCH easier than it was during the first week. It might not be 100% automatic yet, but it won’t require much struggle to get motivated to do it.
An effective goal is to give yourself a 30-day challenge with a new habit. These days don’t have to be all in a row… You just have to execute the action whenever you planned it. It can be 5 days a week, which means that it will take 6 weeks to reach 30 days.
Each day you execute it will ‘strengthen’ the habit.
When you’re able to complete a 30-day challenge for the first time, I promise you, you’ll feel a whole new world open up to you.
Not only will you have a new habit under your belt, you’ll also have the confidence that you can go out and create a habit for just about ANYTHING.
The first time I did this, I still remember that I was suddenly struck by a feeling of endless possibility. Do I want to learn how to rock climb next month? Do I want to write 4000 words a day next month? Do I want to exercise for 2 hrs per day?
Now I know that I’ll be able to work my way up to just about anything within a few months. Even if I have to start small.
Apps To Track Your Habits
Though there are many useful habit tracking apps, I currently use HabitBull for Android. It’s totally customizable, and with the free version you can add and track up to 5 different habits that you want to form.
You can choose the days of the week you want to execute a habit, and it tracks streaks and the ‘strength’ of your habit.
Here are links to some habit tracking apps & other programs you can try.
Habit Bull (Android)
The Fabulous (Android)
Good Habits (iOS)
Way of Life (iOS)
21habit (Online Accountability)
Habit Forge (Online Accountability)
42goals (Online Goal Tracking)
Just remember: These apps can help you track what you’ve done, but they aren’t going to form habits for you. You’re still in the driver’s seat. Every action you take has consequences, and you have a choice – you can either enforce a good habit, or enforce a bad habit.
Troubleshooting & Customizing / Experimentation
Most people believe that they have to do something completely radical to change their lives. But you don’t have to turn your life upside down from day one. You just have to make the decision that you are going to change your trajectory.
Waking up at 5am every day would be an extremely radical change if you normally wake up at 10am. But all you have to do is make the decision to move toward that goal starting today… Maybe you can start getting up at 8am for your morning ritual, to begin with.
Once you make that initial decision and make that initial change, other areas of your life will automatically change… You’ll stop watching TV until 2am. You’ll start going to bed by midnight.
And once that’s easy, you’ll be able to push it farther… And you’ll get closer your ultimate goal, step-by-step.
To keep getting closer, you’ve got to be willing to try new things and experiment.
If You Run Into Problems, Just Keep This In Mind
In the process of making the morning ritual a part of your life, you’ll inevitably learn a lot about yourself. Maybe you’ll stumble upon a problem you’re not sure how to solve, but that’s all part of experimentation and figuring out what works for you.
But keep this in mind: If you aren’t good at something yet, the only problem is that you haven’t yet developed the right skill, or set of skills.
You just need to find out what skills you need, then use the outline I’ve given you to form new habits around those skills. When you do that you’ll discover that you have the ability to learn almost any skill you set you mind to learning.
I’m not asking you to take my word for it, though… I’m only inviting you to see for yourself.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
In this section I’ve compiled the most common questions about creating your own morning ritual so that you’re less likely to have any problems starting out!
Q: When Does the Morning Ritual Start and End?
A: The Morning Ritual begins when you turn off your alarm and drink a glass of water first thing in the morning. It ends when you begin working on the most important daily goal or task. Everything in between is up to you to plan, as long as you include the 5 essentials.
Twyla Tharp shares how her only routine is waking up at 5:30 am, getting dressed to work out, and walking outside her home to hail a taxi to exercise for two hours. She says:
“The ritual is not the stretching and weight training I put my body through each morning at the gym, the ritual is the cab. The moment I tell the driver where to go I have completed the ritual.”
Once you complete the last step of your ritual, that is when you know it is done. At that point, you should be in the right mindset and in the right physical place to get work done.
Q: How long should the Morning Ritual last?
A: Your morning ritual should be around 1 – 1.5 hours in length. If you spend much longer than that before you get down to work, chances are you’ll be dragging your feet and you’ll lose momentum.
Of course, if you believe that you need a little more time, feel free to add it. The key is to experiment and see what works and what doesn’t. There are a few tell-tale signs that mean your ritual is working:
- You feel energized throughout the day. Lots of willpower to get work done, and to resist bad habits
- You feel satisfied at the end of the day that you got a lot done.
- You feel like you can improve week-to-week as your habits develop (Eg. If your work goal is 2000 words per day, next week you feel like you might be able to get to 3000 per day)
If these signs are missing, you probably need to change something about the ritual you’re using.
Experiment and go at your own pace. Your morning ritual should be all about your lifestyle and what makes you productive.
Q: Can I skip a day or two from the Morning Ritual? What about weekends?
A: As I said, it’s OK to skip a day or two of the week in the beginning, when forming new habits. You just have to stick to your plan.
However, when it comes to forming the morning ritual, I suggest you try to do it every day, but maybe sleep in a little later on weekends. After all, the hardest part of the morning ritual, for most people, is waking up early.
After you feel awake, it’s usually easy to remember what to do and to execute the ritual smoothly, especially if you performed the entire nighttime ritual.
When you’re travelling, try to stick to it by making some adjustments.
If you skip a step or a day when you’re starting out, that’s OK. Just execute the nighttime ritual that night, and try again the next day!
Q: How long does it take for the Morning Ritual to become permanent?
A: In my experience, it takes 20-40 days for the morning habit to become easy and automatic. The time to form the morning habit is shorter than most habits because you set it up using your nighttime habit, and it’s also enjoyable once you wake up. Taking a nice warm shower in the early morning, drinking a delicious smoothie, and looking forward to the possibilities of the day make it easy to commit to.
When you find all of your good habits aligned in an easy-flowing ritual, with no distractions, and with a sense of lightness and pleasure, that’s when you’ve got it right.
Q: How do I know that my Morning Ritual works?
A: To see how your life has changed since implementing your morning ritual, keep track of your progress. After the “trial period” has passed and your ritual is now your new lifestyle, you’ll notice changes in many areas of your life. You’ll be more focused, more energized, and more motivated.
On Sundays, I take time to plan the week and assess the ‘story’ of last week, and I suggest you do the same. You can go through this list of questions each week to assess how your morning ritual is helping your life:
- What time do you wake up every day of the work week and on weekends. Is it different than your goal?
- How do you wake up? Do you use an alarm or do you wake up naturally?
- How long does it take you to get out of bed?
- What do you do after you get up?
- How do you feel after you get up? Are you energized, groggy, tired, well-rested…?
- What does your bathroom routine look like?
- Do you eat breakfast? If you do, what does your normal breakfast consist of? Is your breakfast giveing you enough energy to last through the day?
- Do you exercise in the morning?
- Are you productive at work in the morning?
- Do you have a set plan/schedule/to-do list for the day, and do you usually execute all of it?
- What do you do right after your morning routine?
- What does the rest of your typical day look like?
- How do you prepare for bed at night? Do you stick to the nighttime ritual every night, as you planned it?
Important: be honest with your answers. Make notes if you want to. Analyze the answers and try to find out if you have a bad habit that’s hurting your ability to complete your ritual effectively. For example, maybe it usually takes you too long to prepare breakfast. Or maybe you like to watch TV in the morning, or maybe you’re in the habit of talking idly around the breakfast table and complaining about how tired you are. Is there a better way you can use your time that will improve the rest of your day?
Don’t get discouraged if you miss a few days of your ritual. Just decide what needs to change to execute it every day next week, and re-commit yourself to your goal.
Gradually, you’ll get where you need to be.
From time to time, compare how you answered the questions from the current week, to how you answered the questions from weeks past. Then you’ll see how much progress you’ve made.
Quick Start Guide
Now you have everything you need to create your own morning ritual, so it’s time to make the decision to plan & execute it.
Here are some quick and easy tips to get you started by tomorrow morning:
- Get initial ideas for your ritual from the rituals of famously productive people. You can get those ideas in the Morning Ritual Examples guide Ive prepared for you. Download it free here: http://habitbreakthrough.com/ritual-examples
- Include all necessary elements in your morning ritual: Water / Hydration, Bathroom, Movement, A Nutritionally Rich Breakfast, Self-Reflection & Goal, Education & Inspiration
- Print your morning ritual and place it somewhere you can’t miss it when you get up. It could be on your closet, the bathroom mirror, or the wall next to your bed.
- It’s important to perform your nighttime ritual to prepare for the morning, especially in the first weeks. Also, reference this book as many times as you need until you completely understand every step.
- Don’t worry if you accidentally skip a step in the beginning. You can always make it up the next morning. Skipping intentionally, however, is not recommended because it’ll affect the effectiveness of the ritual. If you’re traveling or something else gets in the way of your ritual, try to do as many elements from your ritual as you can and make proper adjustments.
- The nighttime ritual is important for an effective morning ritual, so plan accordingly.
- Review your purpose for the morning ritual often.
- Experiment with your morning activities. See what works for you and what doesn’t and build the ritual around that. Always do the 5 main elements and create additional ones around them.
And what if you don’t have 1.5-2 hrs in the morning to execute a morning ritual?
If you’re a busy person and your mornings just don’t allow you to take an hour, you can still do a morning ritual in a condensed form.
The Compressed 11 minute, 15 Second Morning Ritual
You can still incorporate all 5 element – just make sure to prepare for it the night before.
The Compressed Ritual:
- 2 min: Movement: Running on the spot / push ups / jumping jacks / stretching.
- 5 min: Have a quick, healthy breakfast (maybe prepared the night before)
- 3 min: Bathroom + Change into work clothes.
- 1 min: Review your goals & tasks for the day (prepared)
- 10 sec: Read educational/inspirational quotes (prepared… Could be the same thing you read every day, to get you in the right mindset for work)
11 minutes 15 seconds, and you’re out the door.
If you’re still not sure that the Morning Ritual will work for you
Make an assessment of your life at the moment. Remember how things were before you started with the ritual and how things are now. Compare and track your progress and see what you can do better. The morning ritual is a process.
Have fun. This is not a boot camp. See it as a fun way to make your life better with the help of habits. When you see the morning ritual as a means to a better future and a better life, it’s a lot easier to implement.
Finally, good luck!
P.S. Also, I love to hear about progress and problems from people implementing their morning habit. Leave a comment below, or drop me a line directly at email@example.com. It helps me to update the guides and make them more effective for more personality types. I promise that I read every email I get, though I may not be able to respond in all cases!