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Morning Routines: Starting the Day For Health & Success

If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.  

–Tony Robbins

 

I love this quote from Tony Robbins!   Like Captain Obvious this thought screams a fundamental truth, especially regarding morning routines.

In the last few years I have focused a lot of my personal energy and development on mindset for success.  Whether you desire greater financial success, better health, or more fulfilling relationships, mindset and habits matter most.

Planning for success means preparing all aspects of your being to complete your mission for that day.  How you start your day can set the tone and the direction of your life.

Morning Routines

One of the tools I use involves setting a consistent morning routine.  A morning routine is a set of steps and behaviors executed in a specific order designed to achieve a positive start in my day.  I have experimented with numerous different patterns.  Some routines helped, others did not.  Through trial and error I continue to hone my morning routines to improve my energy, mood, and productivity.

If you think you don’t have a routine, you are wrong.

Whatever  you do, day to day, is your current routine.

The real question begs, does my current routine move me closer to success however I define that?

First Step

The first step to discovering your morning routine simply requires observing your current pattern.

See the following as a hypothetical example….

Wake (Early/Late), bathroom, coffee maker started, check phone messages, Facebook, shower, get dressed, off to work, pick up donuts, start work day….. 

Good, bad or indifferent this pattern starts a day.  Maybe it starts a good day?

Perhaps not.

I believe morning routines say something about our personal priorities.

Studying my own morning routines lead me to believe the path I take each morning shapes how my day goes. Clearly, I believe the more “Good days” I string together, the more general success and “Good Life” I experience.

State–Story–Strategy

The concept of State-Story-Strategy I credit to Tony Robbins.  Tony clearly understands the concept of focusing on what matters first, and purposefully directing energy to what matters most.  State-Story-Strategy specifically relates to morning routines and his daily personal preparation.

State

For Tony Robbins, State means spending the first moments of the day changing the physiology of the body.  He believes a physical awakening begins everything.  In fact, he reports starting his days with a plunge into ice cold water.

Yep!  Daily!  First thing!

I have tried this with a cold shower with surprising results.  Honestly, I don’t like cold water but I will admit it works. No more crawling to the coffee pot, lurching around, waiting for the caffeine to creep into your veins.

Instead…POW!

Awake!

Do you need an ice bath every morning?  No, but it doesn’t hurt….much.

Other ways to awaken the body and change your State include breathing exercises, stretching, yoga postures, and exercise.

Personally, I have used deep breathing plus Sunrise Salutation Yoga posing for 3-5 minutes every morning. Breathing deeply upon raising my arms up, then slowly bending my body downwards, this motion limbers my body, increases blood flow, and serves the purpose of changing my physical State.

There are many examples of changing State.  If you want more energy, changing State early in the day is a must.

Story

The Story portion of the Tony Robbin’s routine refers to a desire to create positive content and direction for his mind.  Fear, resentment, stress, frustration, anger, and anxiety start with a story.  Often, when left idle, our mind fills the void with whatever unfocused thought or emotion comes along.

Morning routines provide purposeful behavior providing the mind a powerful vision of how your day will go. Fixing the daily mindset only requires starting the day reflecting on gratefulness.

Personally, I like to sit quietly for a few minutes (5-10) and start with myself.  Silently (or out loud), I begin exploring any grateful thought that comes to mind.  Working outward from myself, I touch on health, family, and home. Outwards again, I move on to friends, co-workers, business and opportunities.  Near the end, I also include gratefulness for challenges as they represent opportunities for growth and change.

All my grateful thoughts end by thanking God.

(If you find difficulty being grateful or this seems like work….please do it more.)

Personally I notice practicing gratefulness eases fear, anxiety and worry.  Anger, frustration and resentment find less traction in my mind.

So imagine the next new day started by changing physical State and directing your mental/emotional Story. Now the only thing left is to address the Strategy with which you will tackle the day.

Strategy

Strategy refers to the concept of beginning with the end in mind.  This step requires a bit of foresight because many of us have never sat down and truly thought about what we desire.

I agree with Tony Robbins, if you have no idea what or why you get up and start your day, pretty good chance you will get what you planned for….

In recent months, I have thought a lot about what it means to live a “Good Life.”  The answer often changes individually and varies from person to person.  Love, money, health, home, fame, cars, peace, travel, recognition, security…the list goes on and varies with the season of life.  In order to begin your morning routine with thoughts on strategy one must first understand personal goals and desires.

Goal setting helps you understand your purpose.

Purpose helps drive actions.

Actions become your life.

Click here if you need a primer on Goal Setting

Once you have goals and purpose, applying Strategy simply means choosing 2-3 daily action steps that move you incrementally closer to those goals.  So, the final step of the State-Story-Strategy morning routine ties your action plan with emotion.  Don’t just write down those action items! Instead, spend a moment visualizing yourself completing them. Imagine the emotion of tackling those important daily steps.  Enjoy the accomplishment, the satisfaction, the momentum!  Let that emotion fuel your behaviors.

Practical Examples

I have worked through numerous morning routines and met varying successes and failures.

The State-Story-Strategy practice has stuck for me.

I want to end with a practical example.  Think how each action might tie to a positive behavior or desired outcome.

Wake, bathroom, move to kitchen, Sunrise Salutations (3-5 minutes), 25 push ups, 50 jumping jacks, Shower 30-60 seconds cold water, end with 3 minutes hot water, towel off, meditate on gratitude (2-3 minutes), prayer or gratitude to God (2-3 minutes), start hot water for “Bulletproof Coffee,” review personal/health/professional goals, decide on action steps, visualize completion….execute. (Whole process less than 25 minutes)

A quick note, cell-phones and social media are NOT part of this morning routine….see this rationale for more explanation.

Hope you will share your successes and routines….

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • LaJEAN Curtis August 7, 2017, 9:26 am

    Thanks for great start to my Monday

  • jason August 7, 2017, 2:48 pm

    Thanks so much Dr. ! I have resolved to start a new and sustainable routine recently as I have just come back from a 1 month trip away full of reflection. This comes at a perfect time….cold shower here i come ! Thankfulness to god ( already practicing that )….stretching, reflection, strategy starts manana!

    Truly…thanks !

    • William Curtis MD August 9, 2017, 7:51 am

      Excellent Jason! It takes a bit to establish the routine, but worth the effort. Let me know how things develop for you.

  • David August 7, 2017, 9:25 pm

    Truly insightful! I’ve experimented with proactive morning routines but tend to quickly fall back to status quo. One thing I have done recently is boil down what I want out of life into seven simple words. Each one has deep meaning for me and allows me to quickly gauge the trajectory of my life relative to my core principles and desires. Integrity. Compassion. Growth. Creativity. Humor. Gratitude. Adventure. I’m learning that I can find at least a couple of these in everything that I do and from that I take peace and happiness. Thanks for the inspired words!

    • William Curtis MD August 9, 2017, 7:55 am

      David, That’s powerful. I have noticed that when emotion combines with simplicity one can really make progress. Those 7 powerful cues provide foundation and guideposts. How else do you know if you spent your day living “The Good Life?” Love the feedback.

      • David August 17, 2017, 1:44 pm

        This is a great question. The first thing that came to mind was “Was I kind and loving to my children today?” If I can accomplish that one thing, it means everything else in my life is pretty awesome. I truly believe that family is first and should be the most important thing in our lives. The struggle though is the urgency of finances, work or school deadlines, and logistics of managing the day to day activities of a young, active family can push the ability to simply be kind down the list of what seems important in the moment. I find that allowing myself to be content with the state of the “details” of my life, no matter what shape they are in opens the capacity to focus on what really matters. And focusing on what really matters is really living “the good life”.

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