Resource: AWESOME Habit Master sheet to track your morning, daily, evening routines.
We often read about highly successful people having some sort of morning routines that they have come up with and those routines seem to be the magic potion for their success. Good for them. But we’re not talking about them today. I want to tell you about my experience.
Am I successful? Well, yes and no. I mean, it depends on what your definition of success is.
I can’t care less about what those billionaires do, if their routines are bringing more stress and adding to more to-do crap that is already so overwhelming. When I coach my clients, I do so with the belief that all the answers and solutions are right there within them already. That is the approach that I take in my life own life as well.
Other people don’t know shit about me as well as I do about myself.
But that comes with a caveat.
Other people don’t know shit about me as well as I do about myself: IF and ONLY IF I am able to connect with my Self and therefore I am able to tap into my inner wisdom.
This requires a lot of training in pausing, and listening.
Anyhow, I wondered, how come it is not a general suggestion that we just get up and “go”?
Why not just start making phone calls, respond to emails, and endlessly scroll down on TikTok first thing in the morning?
First of all, I don’t have a TikTok account.
Secondly, even just imagining doing these tasks at 5 AM makes me a little unsettled.
If I listen closely enough to my body, I know it causes more anxiety than anything. I know I’m not starting the day off on the right foot.
Over the years, I realized that my morning times are tremendously important for me.
Not in the sense of “getting things done” - actually, my magic time to “get things done” are around 10am - 2pm, and again at 10pm - 2am (but I don’t ever do that anymore because I value sleep so much more than whatever that needs to be done).
Morning times, if used properly, offer me the following:
Feel like I’ve achieved something already, so that I can
Feel good and stay motivated throughout the day
Feel good in life in general as a result of feeling better daily!
Be more productive as I’d be able to focus on what matters, and not drain my energy on deciding what I should do. My morning routine already informs me on what I’d be doing in the first 2 hours of my waking hours. Removing the burden of having to spend energy on making decisions in the morning.
Boost my confidence, knowing I got some part of my life under control.
Have more love for myself, knowing I’ve given the first and possibly the most important and spiritual hours of the day to, well, ME!
You can find ample science backed research that will tell you what activities would be most beneficial. As well, there are many morning routine gurus you can research online, such as Tony Robbins, Tim Ferris, and Hollywood celebrities, whose routines you can copy.
However, time and time again, I come to the realization that the most important thing when it comes to your morning routine is figuring out what works for YOU, and what feels good for YOU.
Aha, that inner wisdom.
Who cares if some studies tell you that the best time to exercise and burn fat is the morning, if it doesn't serve you? I could never get into doing hard-core exercises in the morning. I have certainly tried it for a while, but it felt like all my joints were still loosening up and it was a bit of a stretch for my body. It almost felt like I was forcing my body, instead of respecting what it needs (some time to loosen up and wake up), and where it’s at (waking up! slowly!). I like my mornings to be slower and quiet. Connecting to myself and perhaps something bigger.
Personally, the best time for me to do intense physical exercise is between 5:00 - 7:00 pm, when all my work is done. At this point in the day, I get to free my mind from the day’s work, loosen up my brain before going to bed, and maybe spend the remaining energy that I’ve consumed throughout the day but didn’t get to burn while sitting at the desk for work. Then I get to shower after the workout, let the energy settle and let my hair dry before hitting the sack with a clean showered body around 9:30 pm.
My morning routines have taken different forms over the years in terms of my wake-up time, the length of my routine, and the detailed components of what I do. But it has always consisted of some kind of mindful or connecting practice such as meditation, yoga, journaling, and some form of movement (having a dog helps me with this one). Also, over time, I learned that the first hour is extremely important for me to connect in-and-upwards, and the next hour is necessary for me to get outside, and also, eat.
Let me share with you what works for me!
I wake up at 5:15 AM (I know, it is very precise, but 5:30 AM is a bit too late and 5:00 AM is too early. The additional 15 minutes of sleep is GOLD).
Keep in mind that the following are only for Monday to Friday. I give myself the grace to sleep in until 7 AM (ha! ha!) on the weekends, and skip the morning routines, as it is important for me to pay undivided attention to my partner and lovely doggo. So my meditation is replaced with an intense petting session with all my intentions focused on that one love-giving activity - well, that in and of itself is like a meditative thing!
Realizing what I need in the morning and doing what serves me and feels right for me led me to effortlessly settle into a morning routine that works for ME.
This is why finding the morning routine that serves you and feels good for you is so important. Because you will notice over time that you are more likely to repeat the activities that feel good for you and serve you. Your reward receptors won’t be as sensitive or respond as fast as it does to sugar (wink wink to self), but over-time, as you get better at connecting with yourself and looking inwards, you will crave these activities that serve you and make you feel good in the long run.
Since you are reading this article, I assume that your intention for your well-being is already there, and I am hoping that your intention to do the work also!
Action follows intention.
What I like to do the first two hours of awakening are three things:
1. MEDITATION and PRAYER. In bed. These are the very first things that I do in the morning, sometimes even before going to the bathroom. I believe that my soul is the purest right when I wake up, unaltered and uninfluenced by external disturbances; not even by my own thoughts yet. Morning time for me is sacred. Because I am the least affected by any external information or opinions. Therefore, it is the easiest time to let go and empty out my mind, which allows the inner and universal connection. So I stay in bed, and sit on my pillow filled with buckwheat hulls. I close my eyes and do about 15-20 minutes of meditation, followed by a prayer, my communication with God. Although I grew up Christian, I am not particularly religious. I don’t go to church, but I still think that communication with God, or the higher power, or the Universe, or the pure Consciousness is very important for me. After clearing my mind intentionally through meditation, I feel that the channels are opened up under, through, and above my physical self to be able to communicate better with the higher power. I imagine a big pipe that goes through the earth, through me, and towards the sky; connecting me to the Earth, as well as the Universe above. A direct channel for clear and uninterrupted communication. I know this may sound silly, but I also do believe there are many things we cannot yet explain with science, and this is a big one for me. Meditation + Prayer usually takes me about 30 minutes.
2. TIDY UP. At home. Once I’ve done some soul work in bed, it is time to venture outside of myself and my bed. I go to the bathroom and wash myself up. I get dressed. I make my bed, and sweep the floor to start fresh, free from the dust and human/dog particles accumulated over night. This doesn’t take too long. It is important for me to not only connect with my soul but also connect with the place in which I exist, and make it ready and nice for the day. It’s sort of like getting rid of all the distractions, making it clean for the day so that I can focus on the things that matter, without clutter. It is just like meditation, but instead of cleansing my mind, I am cleansing my physical space. Even if your day went horribly, it is always nice to come back to a clean home, and a tidy bed. Even if you did nothing right that day, at least you connected with your Soul, and made an effort to be respectful of your Space. Oh! And I drink about 500ml of water while at it. I chug it down to flush down whatever needs to come out before I have my smoothie or first meal. Tidying up takes about 15 minutes.
3. GO FOR A WALK. Outside. After about 45 - 50 minutes at home, it is finally time to venture outside! As I mentioned, a HIIT style high-intensity huffing and puffing sort of exercise is not for me in the mornings (read this article to see why it may not be for you either). I would reserve that for later in the evening. However, walking is also a form of exercise, and it is the most overlooked and undervalued form of movement. So I start from my bed, expand out to my room and apartment, then eventually to outside to connect with the outside world. All that within the first 2 hours of waking. I thank my dog for being my consistent accountability buddy and my harshest critic for this step. Even through the pandemic lockdown, he has always pushed me, with his not-so-elegant barks, to go for a walk at least twice a day (even in minus 30 degree celsius in freezing Canada!). Even when I felt lazy and cold, he had always encouraged me with his paw scratches and sad-eye acting. He is very good at it. Here in Colombia, there has been a role reversal. As it is neither cold nor hot, I am excited to go outside after my meditation and tidying up. Whereas my dog is still in his dog-dream world. I have to wake him up, and that effort is usually met with some growly criticism from him. Nevertheless, we make it outside together. While I walk my dog, it is very important for me to not listen to music or podcast. Reasons? - I am outside to connect with the outside world. Especially here in Medellin, everyone is out sweeping, going to work, or just sitting around, ready to say hello and connect with you. Even if there is no one to talk to, I like listening to the birds, looking at the trees, and just being in the world fully; experiencing the walk and the world around me fully. - Also, this is the time for me to be with me. The first two hours of my waking hours are very important for me to connect with myself and with the higher power. This last leg of my morning routine is not an exception to that. Therefore, I try not to ingest any outside information that might alter my opinion or cloud the purity of the morning. It is more important for me to connect with my thoughts than ingesting more information, which I can easily do later in the day. For example, I listen to podcasts or enjoy audiobooks in Spanish while I cook or do the laundry. But in the morning, especially the first two hours, I walk without my earphones and let my thoughts come in and out. I like noticing them and entertaining them. Sometimes I take notes by using the voice-recognizing note-taking app-thing on my phone. - It is too early to be upset. I used to listen to the news as I walked my dog. Happy things such as how many people have helped the elderly, usually don’t make it as news headlines. Instead, what is on the news is most of the times sad, violent, or upsetting information, unfortunately. I do see my energy shift and become more irritated and negative when I listen to the news on a clean slate of consciousness. So I made a conscious decision to not ingest this kind of information that alter my state negatively in the first two hours of my day. I notice that I am happier, more present, I show up better to those around me, and I am more patient with my dog when I walk him. This leads me to less regrets, less self-shaming, and less bitching throughout the day. I am not saying be oblivious to what is going on in the world and around you. But you can choose the time and place to consume certain information that is likely to impact you in a certain way. I choose not to fill my morning with other people's ideas or sadness of the world. Instead, I consider it the best time for me to get to know ME, get to know my thoughts, and go slow. This leads me to my next list of some NOT-to-do’s in the mornings.
Not-to-do’s in the mornings:
Ingesting a lot of information such as news, podcast, audiobooks, reading emails, texting, social media, watching a TV show.
Doing things that upset you such as trying to solve an unresolved argument
Anything that takes you away from your soul.
Morning routines are there to help you, not to stress you out. So if you woke up a little late today give yourself a little grace to shorten your morning routines or skip some steps. And that’s OK! Before you decide on how your morning would be, think about how it will enrich your day and your soul.
If you already have a morning routine, ask yourself,
Does it feel natural to you? If not, how can you add/drop/edit some parts of it so that you feel more comfortable with it? You will know if it is the way for you or not. You will figure it out. Part of you already knows. Just like I knew exercising in the morning wasn’t for me!
How does it serve you? If it does not serve you but it is only stressing you out, or if you’re doing it because you think you “should”, well, you’re just shoulding (shitting) all over yourself then. Stop shoulding yourself, and come up with something that would serve you better!
Does it grow your soul? In what way is this morning routine serving you? What elements of your morning routine help with your growth as a person, and elevate you? What elements don’t help you to have more compassion for self and others, or pull you from knowing yourself?
I will leave you with some keywords for your morning routines:
That’s it folks! Thanks for reading on.
BONUS: I put together an AWESOME Habit Master sheet for you to track your morning, daily, evening routines.
I have been using it for years and it is just the best for me to track and implement actions I want in my life. It really works. I even put together a special one for 2023 :) So do make sure to check it out!
Click HERE to download the AWESOME WhelmSpace Habit Master now!