Most people have a morning routine. They roll out of their beds, brush their teeth, and groggily stroll into their days. But if you’re reading this, you don’t want to be like most people. You want to blow past the average, get an edge on the competition, and maximize your potential. So instead of dipping your toe into your day, dive in head first by ditching the morning routine in favor of a morning ritual.
When I say ritual I’m not referring to secret or religious practices. There are two key difference between routines and rituals:
- Rituals intentionally affect your psyche: You can’t casually perform a ritual. Think about the difference between telling your significant other that you love them, and exchanging vows on the alter. There’s a pressure to perform well.
- You must set aside the proper time: Rituals cannot be performed in 10 minutes. You must have enough time to perform the ritual in its entirety well. There’s no way you’ll perform anything meaningful in a rush. You can however rush routines (men shaving on their way to work for example).
Ritual connotes something more spiritual than routine does. It’s nonnegotiable. It HAS to be performed in order to achieve peak performance. We already see rituals right in front of our eyes from NBA players who dribble the ball in the same exact way before every foul shot to computers that run the same boot-up scripts every time you turn them on. Anecdotal evidence is great but I have concrete research to back me up. Researchers Francesca Gino and Michael Norton has this to say about rituals:
“Rituals performed after experiencing losses – from loved ones to lotteries – do alleviate grief, and rituals performed before high-pressure tasks – like singing in public – do in fact reduce anxiety and increase people’s confidence.”
In other words a pre-day ritual helps by reducing some of the tension you may feel about the upcoming day. In fact, the rituals, those researchers tested were simple like wearing lucky socks, or crossing your fingers. What we’re doing here goes beyond the simple superstitions. It makes you feel good and prepares you.
Establishing a Morning Ritual
Now that you know a lack of a morning ritual is holding you back, how do you go about establishing one? I can tell you firsthand that it’s not as easy as it may seem. Don’t worry, I’ll lay out all the necessary steps next.
- Find activities that calm you. It may not be the first thing that you think so try everything you can and pick what works best for you. Meditation works well for a lot of people so experiment with that first.
- Get Up and Move: This doesn’t have to be any hard core exercise. Anything from stretching to jogging in place qualifies. The point is to move around and get some blood moving through your veins. Cardio can wake you up better than a cup of coffee and is especially beneficial after hours of stillness in sleep.
- Plan Out Your Day: I may get some protests from more spontaneous people, but hear me out. Planning out your day doesn’t mean you’ll know what you’re going to at every hour (but feel free to do so if you want). It means pick one or two objectives that you would like to accomplish and making sure they get done. Why? One way to spoil a perfect day is to find out a time consuming project is due the next morning. By going through your agenda early you get an idea of what needs to be done and plan accordingly.
While those three steps seem simple enough, there is some nuance involved in getting it down perfectly. Maybe over the weekend you have time to hit the gym for an hour while during the week you can barely have enough time to stretch. That’s for you to work out. Eventually though you’ll have an awesome system to jump start your day. Don’t take that advantage lightly. Often times the one who wins the race isn’t the fastest, but the one who gets the best start. Now you can beat your competition out of the gates every time.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.