What do Bill Gates, Michael Phelps, Richard Branson, Michael Jordan, and Tony Robbins have in common?
They were doing the same things before and after they achieved momentum. Their habits, disciplines, routines, and consistency were the keys that unlocked the momentum that made them unstoppable.
Picture a train: at rest, massive amounts of energy are needed to initiate movement, much more than it takes when that train is already moving. In fact, one brick, placed under one wheel, can stop that train from ever starting. When traveling 80 mph, with momentum on its side, that train can obliterate a brick wall.
Routine breeds momentum.
In Darren Hardy’s book, The Compound Effect, I was introduced to the concept of a morning routine. He explained that:
- A routine is something you do every day without fail. Control how your day starts and ends.
- Routines decrease stress by making our actions automatic and effective.
- To reach new goals and develop new habits, it’s necessary to create new routines to achieve victory on the battlefield of life.
Consider this example from his book.
“Golfer Jack Nicklaus was famous for his pre-shot routine. He was religious about the “dance”he would do before every shot, a series of routine mental and physical steps that got him fully focused and ready for the shot.
During one of the important Majors, a psychologist timed until the moment he hit the ball, and guess what? In each shot, from the first tee to the eighteenth green, the timing of Jack’s routine supposedly never varied by more than one second. Amazing!
The same psychologist measured Greg Norman during his unfortunate collapse at the 1996 Masters. Lo and behold, his pre-shot routine got faster and faster as the round progressed. Varying his routine stunted his rythym and consistency; he was never able to catch momentum. The moment Norman changed his routine, his performance became unpredictable and his results erratic.“
Make no mistake: I’m no Michael Phelps or Bill gates, but my morning routine has worked wonders since I started.
After much experimentation, here’s what it currently looks like:
I wake every week day at 5 am. I leave my phone on the opposite side of the room so when the alarm goes off, I physically have to get out of bed to shut it up.
After I shut the alarm off, I put on some music or a podcast and then wake my body up. I do some gentle stretching/muscle therapy for about 20-30 minutes.
Next, I set a timer for 20 minutes and start to meditate. This has absolutley been the most rewarding mental exercise I’ve ever done, and over the years I’ve notice that my day-to-day life goes much better during periods when I am meditating frequently vs. periods when I’m not.
5) Clean up and get dressed. It’s about 6 am now. At the end of my warm shower, I gradually cool down the water until I get that ‘holy shit’ factor. It’s never appetizing but always worth it.
6) Journaling. I use specific exercises that help me cultivate gratitude and identify my most important actions for the day. These include but are not limited to:
- Gratitude journal – I write down 5-10 things I’m grateful for, which over time helps focus my mind on what I have and can do rather than wandering throughout the day worrying about what I don’t have and can’t do.
- Morning pages – writing down 3 pages (or for 10 minutes) anything that comes to your mind. A great way to clean the soul and put that monkey mind back in it’s cage.
- ‘Daily 10’ practice. Got this from James Altucher. Come up with 10 new ideas for solving a problem you have, no matter how ridiculous they are… Every once in a while you’ll come up with a gem.
- ‘Fear Setting’. A technique from Tim Ferriss. This one is tough but extremely rewarding. Usually don’t do this one in the morning because it takes longer than I can afford. I included it here just so its on your radar.
- After journaling, I read something positive or educational until I have to leave for work. I once heard that people who don’t read are no better off than people who can’t read. I believe it.
9) It’s 7:25 now. The last step in my morning routine is listening to an audio program on the way to work. Use your car as a classroom. My roundtrip everyday is 50 minutes. That is 4 hours and 10 minutes every week. Don’t waste it! By doing this, I have already logged hundreds and hundreds of hours learning new skills and strategies that help me improve. If not there already, I’m working on my Master’s level knowledge in Health, Communication, Finance, Personal Development, and Sales.
When I step out of my car, I’m ready to attack the day. I have a mental edge. Most people unwillingly rolled out of bed 45 minutes ago and aren’t ready for fully awake and accomplished me.
My body is awake, my mind is calm, and I already feel productive because I got a whole lot done before 8 am that I don’t have to worry about after work.
Finally, I will mention that on weekends I don’t even worry about my morning routine. I sleep in as long as I can. Time off gives me some space around it to relax and then by Monday morning, I’m ready to go again.
For more resources on morning routines, check this out:
Darren hardy compound effect
Morning routine episode tim ferriss