There’s lots written today about morning routines. People love discussing each others’ morning routines. What time do you wake up? What time do you write? What time do you work out? For how long? Do you meditate? Do you pray? Breakfast? Yes or no? If yes, what? Coffee? What kind of coffee? And how much? What’s the most important work you do first thing in the morning?
Morning routines, while important for discipline, are also great places to hide. We make them so esteemed now that if you don’t do them precisely the way your heroes do them, you won’t achieve the success they have. Morning routines have become hacks, something we think we can exploit with ease. If I want success in this area, all I have to do is mimic the morning routine of the person who’s great in that area. After all, if they’re successful in this area, then we can assume much of it is derived from their morning, from what they do and from what they don’t do. We’re trying to hack experience and long-term success via morning routine exploitation. Only what got the successful person to here may not only be the morning routine. It may help set them on the path to their success — which is important — but it is not the only thing that earns them their daily success. It may be a classic mistake of correlation vs. causation in success habits.
Two of the most important activities to me upon waking are writing and working-out. I love writing in the morning because you’re freshest and generally have your best ideas then. If you wake up early enough, you should have plenty of time for a writing session before the work day begins. I also love working-out first thing in the morning, particularly on the road. It’s a wonderful, difficult discipline to hone. A large part of road survival is keeping the same habits on the road as you do at home. At home, it should be easier. Away from home, it is more difficult due to travel and others’ schedules. Yet I prioritize working-out because I prize working-out. It is among the most important work I do each day, including the weekends. It goes in the category of “never regret:” you never regret working out, even for only 15 minutes if that’s all the time you’ve got that day.
Just because I do these two activities first thing in the morning doesn’t make my hack or morning routine the best. Like anyone who enjoys their morning routine, I think it sets a wonderful, positive tone for the day, an early personal victory. Few people have the discipline to wake up early and work-out. There are plenty of other people who don’t do this and are wildly successful writers, authors, speakers, businesspeople, etc. They may not write until 10 o’clock at night. Some write all night. They may not work out at all. They have their time to get after it creatively, but 5 AM isn’t it. That’s their gig. We discover what works best for us and we stick with it. Your morning routine is one set of steps on the path to success. While it isn’t the entire path to success, it should help you get there faster. Through it, you’re automatically prioritizing and deleting activities that do not move you toward your goals. But cutting out the extraneous, you automatically move closer to where you wish to go.
If you’re in experimentation mode, by all means try morning actions you think are potentially worthwhile for you. Most people wake up and bumble into their morning like zombies. They’re not focused on creating, discipline, or a great start to their day. They’re not focused at all. For those with daily creation goals, with quality output goals, with contribution goals, they wake up with purpose and direction knowing what they want to get done that morning. They’re driven to create even on the weekends, still maintaining the habit. If you’re unsure where you want to go, first decide where you want to go. And if you cannot decide where you want to go, find someone who has the results you seek and mimic them. As Tony Robbins says, Success leaves clues. (BTW, if you had to mimic someone to begin with, Tony is a great place to start. He’s a wizard. We all have some Tony within us.)
Post experimentation mode, the most important thing is to stick to your routine. You’ve found something that works for you — great. Now, stick with it. This will be the hardest part, especially if you’ve selected hard activities. The easiest thing in the world is to be thrown off of your new habit. Things come up. Sickness may arise. Life happens. Try to stick to the new routine despite these obstacles. We all have these obstacles. Some of us have the regular travel obstacle I talked about earlier. While it is a regular obstacle, don’t let it derail you on the road like many people do. Stick to the routine. Get up earlier. Don’t miss it or leave anything out. The habits and discipline are that important. What is that important to you to contribute to? What would drive you to stick to something no matter what tried to derail you? What results do you seek?
There’s nothing more cool to watch than someone who is dedicated and driven, and knows what he’s pursuing and why. This is a man on fire with passion and perseverance. He knows what he has to do and he does it. He knows the steps to get there. He’s determined. He knows his why. It’s cool because it is rare. Someone who knows what he wants and then takes the daily steps to pursue it is a natural goal setter and go getter, someone who aims high and takes regular shots. It is fun to watch. Think about comparing your daily schedule to his. Where would they align and where would they diverge? What does he do that you do not? What is he willing to do — more frequently — than you? What is he doing that scares you?