Eight years ago, I began rising early and adopting a simple morning ritual of my own.
Quickly, it became the cornerstone of my day and something I couldn’t imagine living without. I’d get more done in the morning on some days then I did half of the rest of the entire day.
My day started off right with fresh air, meditation, and creative time for me to expand my mind, reflex my senses, and get my brain working. That helped me do everything better throughout the entire rest of the day.
I was a night owl my entire life up until then, so the change was a bit shocking to say the least. In my first year I went from waking up at 8:00AM on average to 6:00AM (I took it really slow), but it was so worth it.
Whether you’re a night owl or not, a consistent morning ritual can be just the thing to help you jumpstart your day and kick you into hyperdrive, positively affecting everything you do for the entire rest of the day.
5 Morning Rituals That Will Transform the Way You Live
When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.
– Marcus Aurelius
It takes time to design a morning routine that fits your life, but once you get something down that works for you the value of it is tangible.
But the only way to get there is to experiment. You likely have an idea of what will work best for you, though, so start there and work elsewhere to design something optimized for your life.
To help get you started, here are five of the most powerful (and universal) morning rituals I’ve encountered in my time rising early.
1. Keep a journal
Keeping a journal is a great morning ritual for two reasons. First, it’s quick. Most journal exercises, depending on what you choose to adopt, take no more than about ten to fifteen minutes.
Second, if you choose to adopt a more reflective journal exercise, this can be the perfect exercise help you review the previous day so that you’re better prepared and can make the necessary adjustments and improvements.
An example of a simple journal exercise involves writing down everything that happened the previous day and how you feel about it. What do you feel went well? What didn’t? What were the actual results? Do they match with how you feel the day went? Why do you think that is? Reflecting in this way has a lot of lasting value the more you do it.
2. Get creative
When we think about creativity, most of us only imagine works of art like painting or drawing. However, what we forget is creativity is about the act of creating something out of ‘nothing’ (or whatever you consider the source of creativity to be), so it can include building something, writing a story, designing, and much more.
Taking time each day to get creative helps open up the mind, especially if the activity involves stepping away from your usual work, which can help you throughout the entire rest of your day when you’re faced with problems that need solving (the greatest use of creativity).
Get out there and experiment to find what you enjoy most. Try not to use logic to decide what activity you pick here, go with what feels right after a little trial and error.
3. Exercise (outdoors)
Exercise is a common suggestion and one of the most popular morning rituals, for good reason. The benefits of exercise, including increased energy and reduced stress (due to a reduction in cortisol in the brain when exercising), sparked early, are perfect for starting your day off right.
However, I’ve found exercise is best done outside where you can breathe in fresh air and catch some extra sun while you’re at it, both oxygen intake and sunshine being important for our health.
It’s not possible for everyone to get out into nature just to work out, but if you can at least get outside somewhere, on a porch, balcony, or your backyard, you’ll still get most of the benefit.
It should come as no surprise that meditation is considered a staple morning ritual for many successful executives, business owners, and notable figures such as Oprah and Kobe Bryant, given that it’s the ideal morning ritual for improving focus and preparing you for the day ahead.
This doesn’t have to be the classic form of sitting meditation, though, but it can be. Alternatively, I’ve previously done a simple tea meditation that involves slowly sipping tea mindfully for several minutes (which you can do with coffee or another drink as well).
Other examples of meditative activities you can do are going for a short mindful walk outside (allowing you to combine this with the last point to some degree). Whatever the activity is for you, make sure to treat it seriously and use well defined meditation practice instructions to get the most from the exercise.
5. Do high-priority tasks
This is all about identifying the high-priority tasks associated with your professional work and dedicating a portion of your morning to doing only that task. If you’re a programmer, that’s programming. If you’re a creative, that’s your specific creative activity. And if you’re working on a career change, this can be time to devote to moving that dream forward.
Whatever that is for you, the purpose of this time is to make the most of what, for most people that adopt a morning routine, ends up being by far the most productive time of the day. Oftentimes, this ends up being the largest block of your morning routine with the first two to three activities taking no more than an hour or so.
But make sure to take this time seriously. It’s not intended for email, scheduling, or reviewing reports or analytics. This is time to do what is most important to your chosen (or future) profession so that you can make positive strides forward and level up your game a little each day.
Once you have a better idea of what your morning routine will look like, bringing together a few nourishing activities that fit you and your lifestyle, you’ll begin to reap the rewards of a consistent morning ritual.
Everyone’s morning routine looks a little different, but the result is the same: an invaluable time for centering yourself and doing what’s most important so that you’re focused and well-prepared for the day ahead.