I don’t know about you, but the most important part of my day is my morning. I typically wake up around 5:15–5:30AM and what happens right after I wake up through the next few hours has significant impact on the rest of the day until I go to bed.

I had a period of time in my mid 20s where I found myself stressed and frustrated when I would arrive at work.  When I took a step back, I realized the root of my stress and frustration were things that were happening between the time I woke up and arrived to work. I made one specific change that significantly changed my mornings moving forward. Since that time, I have tried to be very intentional with my morning routine and as a parent, the morning routines of my children. This stuff will change your life, one morning at a time!

Here are my 5 keys to a great morning.

1. Get Some Sleep

I’ve noticed I am most insecure, over-sensitive, and off my game when I don’t get enough sleep. I need between seven and eight hours of sleep for me to wake-up and be at what I feel is a productive mental and emotional place to start my day. Anything less and I struggle a bit to clear the “cob webs.” As I mentioned above, the probability of insecurity increases, so I end up feeling less confident. I know the only way I am going to reach my goals and live the life I want to live is to be confident. I need sleep and so do you! Our bed time is one thing, quality of sleep is another thing. Click here for Twelve Simple Tips to Improve Your Sleep. How much sleep do you need to wake up as your best self?

2. Give Yourself Enough Time

Give yourself enough time in the morning to do what you want to do. If every morning you are feeling stressed and rushed, then you need to change something, either your routine or the time you allow for your routine. Your mornings don’t need to be like that. I get it: life is busy, you have places to go, people to see, and maybe you have kids. None of that is a valid excuse, because you are in control whether you admit it or not.

Take control of your morning by jotting down your ideal morning routine and consider how much time each item in your routine takes. My ideal morning routine might look like this:

- Wake up, restroom, eat granola bar, drink some water (5 minutes)

- Get dressed for the gym (5 minutes)

- Pack work clothes (10 minutes)

- Get out the door stuff  (10 minutes)

- Drive to the gym (15 minutes)

- Workout (60 minutes)

- Shower, get dressed, leave gym (30 minutes)

- Drive to work while grabbing breakfast (20 minutes)

According to my estimated times above, my ideal morning routine will take me 2 hours and 35 minutes. If I want to be at work by 8:00AM every single day, I better be waking up no later than 5:25AM (and go to bed by 10:30PM the night before). If I hit snooze three times or try to fit everything in waking up at 6AM, my day is going to start off with me feeling stressed and rushed. Give yourself enough time to start your morning off right.

3. Be the Master of Your Morning

If you follow my recommendation above and outline your ideal morning routine you can compare it to what you are actually doing.  What is your current morning routine and is it setting you up for success? If you Google “What do successful people do in the morning?” you will find links to articles that outline the morning habits of successful people.  As you are reading them, pay close attention to how intentional these people are and why.  Pay attention to the patterns you will see as you read about different people.  Be the master of your morning!

4. Eat Well

I sit on our wellness committee at work and we recently had a speaker do a lunch and learn on the topic of “Peak Energy.”  She talked about a lot of things, but one of the things that stuck out to me was the foods we put in our body.

She said one of the biggest challenges educators face is children not eating the right foods in the morning to set them up for success the rest of the day.  She used the example of children who eat sugary cereals or regularly eat things like Pop Tarts to start their day.  They come to school amped up on sugar and without getting the proper nutrients for their brains and body to function for peak performance.

As adults, we are not different.  We must fuel our bodies with the right things to help us perform in a healthy, efficient, and productive manner the rest of the day.What are you putting in your body to start the day? Click here to read about The 20 Best Foods to Eat for Breakfast.

5. Pay Attention to the Right Things

In the first paragraph, I talked about a time in my mid 20s where I was feeling stressed and frustrated when I would get to work.  I said I made one change that changed everything moving forward.

That change was what I was paying attention to in the morning.  In my 20s I was on a save-the-world mission and was very opinionated on a number of social topics. During my morning drive from the gym to my work, I would listen to talk radio.  The program I would listen to was all about discussing various social topics, many of which I was passionate about.

During my drive I would find myself becoming frustrated and emotionally involved in the conversation and there were times I called in to voice my perspective.  On many days I would become come irritated to the point I would still be feeling it when I arrived at work.

As soon as I realized it, I stopped listening and switched to a light-hearted and very funny sports morning show.  My mornings have never been the same and not only am I very intentional with what I pay attention to in the mornings, I’m also very intentional with my children and what they are exposed to in the morning.  With my five year old son, if he wants to watch TV, it has to be certain shows that are focused on learning rather than others things a five year old little boy is drawn to.

When I take my children to school, the environment is very calm, nurturing, and positive.  I might ask what their goals are for the day.  I might remind them of the benefits of making everyone around them better.  Or maybe we’ll just rock out to some music.

Be mindful of what gets your attention in the morning and the impact it has on your spirit as you are kicking off your day.

I want you to be secure, confident, and fulfilled in your life.  I want each day to be meaningful for you.  I know the best way to do that is to feel good about yourself and the world around you.  How we start our days off can have significant impact on how we show up and our quality of life. You have the opportunity to make each morning great!

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