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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

Need Morning Motivation? 30 Morning Routines to Help You Start Afresh

Need Morning Motivation? 30 Morning Routines to Help You Start Afresh

You forgot to set your wake-up alarm. As you slowly come to consciousness, you begin to panic as you realize that you’re going to be extremely late for work. You have a quick shower, brush your teeth, and then hurriedly put your clothes on. There’s no time for any food or drink – so you head out the door stressed, thirsty and downright miserable.

Does this sound familiar to you? I’m sure you’ve had mornings like this. And as you know, they’re the best way to lose morning motivation and the worst possible way to start the day.

In this article, I’ll help you start your day afresh by building a morning routine.

How morning routine boosts your motivation

Your morning routine determines whether you can win the day. In 2016, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Ohio State University studied call center staff working for an insurance company.[1]

They specifically looked at the mood of the call center staff throughout their working day. The three-week study discovered something interesting. Namely, staff who started the day in a bad mood, usually ended the day in a bad mood too. This was despite them receiving calls from positive customers throughout the day.

Staff who started their day calm or happy – finished their working day in the same upbeat emotional state. Furthermore, the study found that staff with low moods had low productivity. Staff with elevated moods demonstrated high productivity.

As you can see from the above revelations, it’s vital that you start your day well.

But you may ask, what exactly is motivation? Then you can’t miss this concept about Motivation Engine.

Once you’ve understood what a Motivation Engine is, you should start building habits that keep you motivated.

Routines that boost your morning motivation

If you’re prone to starting off your day in a gloomy and stressed state, then you’ll be sure to benefit from the suggestions below.

1. Wake up on time.

Waking up on time (or even early) is critical to starting your day positively. It will give you space and time to complete your morning routines. And you won’t need to worry about rushing around your home.

2. Open your curtains.

One of the first things you should do upon rising is to open your bedroom curtains.

I do this every morning, and I’ve found it to be a fantastic way to gradually wake up from my slumber.

Personally, I open the curtains, and then sit on the end of the bed for a few minutes. This allows me to enjoy the morning light streaming through my window.

3. Make your bed.

Remember your student days? Making your bed was probably the last thing you thought about when you were stumbling out of it in the morning.

This habit may be okay for students, but if you want to accelerate your motivation and productivity – you should definitely make your bed.

It takes less than a minute, and you’ll be rewarded by a tidy room, and a feeling of self-satisfaction.

4. Enjoy a refreshing shower.

I’m always amazed when people tell me that they didn’t have time to shower in the morning.

Not only does that sound unhygienic, but it also suggests that these people haven’t learned to set a daily morning routine.

A shower only takes 10 minutes or so, and it’s a great way to clean your body, and the perfect way to wake up.

5. Drink a freshly-blended smoothie.

Every morning, I enjoy a freshly-blended, fruit-based smoothie. This consists of organic milk and a small portion of fruit such as bananas, mangoes and strawberries.

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It’s a superb way to kick-start your day. Not only does it taste great, but it’s also full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

I used to drink tea first thing in a morning, but now, I find that smoothies are far more satisfying.

6. Take a 10-minute walk in the morning sunshine.

If you have a dog, then this will be an easy task for you.

However, even if you don’t own a dog, why not try walking for 10 minutes outside every morning?

If you’re lucky enough to live close to a park, then you could walk around the park before going to work. Fresh air and exercise are an invigorating combination.

7. Check your to-do list.

Organized people tend to have to-do lists. It helps them keep track of what needs doing at home, work and beyond.

To-do lists can be paper-based, or you can use one of the many free apps that are available. The morning time is perfect for checking your to-do list, and prioritizing items for the day.

You may also find that you can tick off some items that you completed the previous day.

8. Listen to some upbeat music.

Music is a powerful mood changer. If you’re not a typical morning person, then you can help to boost your physical and emotional state by listening to upbeat music.

I won’t suggest specific artists, but simply try to choose music that makes you feel happy and lively. You could listen to this music while you shower, when you’re in your kitchen, or perhaps when you’re commuting to work.

9. Complete a mini workout.

If you have a home gym, then spend a few minutes each morning working out. This will rapidly wake you up, and increase your mental well-being.

If you don’t have a home gym, you can still do a mini workout. For example, try doing sets of push-ups and sit-ups.

10. Review your goals.

Early morning can be an excellent time for contemplation.

While you may want to think about trivial things, successful people often use this time to review their personal goals. You can do the same.

For instance, if one of your goals is to start your own business, then use the morning time to come up with ideas to help move you towards this goal.

11. Pack some healthy snacks to take to work.

You may have started the day with a healthy breakfast, but have you noticed how easy it is for our diets to go downhill from there!

As soon as we arrive at college or work, we begin looking for the coffee. Not long after that, we get peckish, and start seeking out cakes, biscuits and chocolate.

Luckily, with a bit of preparation, you can avoid this situation. The trick is to pack into your bag some healthy snacks such as apples, bananas and nuts. These healthy treats will happily keep you going until lunchtime.

12. Declutter part of your home.

Unless your home is currently spotless and has nothing out of place, then you could spend a few minutes each morning decluttering an area of your home.

Take your hallway, for example. This may have shoes and bags that could be tidied away in just a few minutes.

13. Meditate for 5 minutes.

Many high achievers say that they mediate each morning. This gives them balance and poise, before beginning their working day.

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Have you thought about trying meditation? Although there are different forms of meditation, the simplest method is to just close your eyes… control your breathing… and let your thoughts settle.

And like most things in life, the more you practice meditation, the easier it will become for you.

14. Stretch your body.

You may have woken up with a stiff neck, or perhaps a pain in your back.

From experience, it seems that lying down for several hours can leave your body in need of a good stretch. I’m 2.10 meters tall (yes, really!), so it’s not uncommon for me to have some discomfort when I first wake up.

However, I’ve learned that stretching for just a few minutes offers quick pain relief, improved posture and enhanced energy levels.

15. Read a motivational quote.

If you want to boost your productivity, then make a habit of reading a motivational quote each morning.

To get you in the mood for adopting this behavior, I’ve picked out one of my favorite quotes for you:

“Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.” — Og Mandino

16. Drink a glass of water.

Hydration is essential. Especially after hours of sleeping.

I love to drink a glass of pure, filtered water every morning. It immediately makes me feel better, more energised and… less thirsty!

Even if you’re a caffeine addict, try drinking a glass of water before you start on the hard stuff.

17. Create something.

Like many of the suggestions I’m listing, this idea makes productive use of your morning time.

Let’s say that you are a budding singer-songwriter. You’re not famous yet but you want to be!

Before heading off to do your current job, you could spend 20 minutes or so writing lyrics for a new song. Do this everyday for a week, and you’ll probably have enough lyrics for a whole album.

Other ideas for creating something include putting together a bouquet of flowers, working on your novel, and adding the finishing touches to your latest artwork.

18. Write down things you’re grateful for.

It’s all too easy to take things for granted. We need to constantly remind ourselves of things in our life that we’re grateful for.

A beneficial and rewarding morning practice is to write a list of things that you’re currently grateful for. These could be things such as your partner, your job, and your health.

Some people like to write a list each morning that includes everything they were grateful for from the previous day. Over time, you can develop an attitude of gratitude.

19. Play with your pets.

Do you love animals? Most of us do, for sure.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a pet, then the morning is the perfect time to have some fun with them.

For instance, if you have a dog, they’re sure to like playing with a ball or Frisbee first thing in the morning. They’ll have fun, and you will too.

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20. Listen to an inspiring podcast.

Podcasts are a great way to listen to inspiring and motivating speakers.

As they’re audio only, you can listen to them while making your breakfast – or even while you’re driving your car.

Just imagine hearing expert tips on business, success and well-being every morning. Before long, this precious wisdom is bound to sink into your consciousness.

Here’re some podcasts recommended for you:

You Are What You Listen To: 11 Podcasts To Inspire Yourself

21. Plan your day.

Self-help guru Alan Lakein famously said:

“Failing to plan, is planning to fail.”

Wise words indeed.

To be successful in life, you must learn how to make plans and set goals.

You should have long-term plans, medium-term plans and… daily plans.

That’s right. You can use a few minutes each morning to plan the day ahead. It’s a simple technique that offers a surprising boost to your daily productivity.

22. Learn something new.

Each morning is the start of a new day. Why not tap into this fresh energy by learning something new every morning?

This could be something like a few words of a new language, a new guitar chord, or some facts related to your favorite basketball team.

23. Enjoy the quietness of the morning.

If you can get up in the morning before the majority of other people, you’ll be rewarded with peace and quietness.

You can make use of this special time by perhaps reading a book, or sitting in your garden.

Personally, I love to walk my dog in the early morning, as the streets are empty – and my dog has a whole park to itself!

24. Think of a way to help someone later in the day.

Today’s society seems riddled with a me, me, me mentality. I’m sure you know what I mean.

People talking endlessly about themselves – and others taking hundreds of selfies every day.

It’s important not to get caught in this self-centered trend. One way to do this, is to take a few minutes each morning to think of ways that you can help other people later in the day.

To give you an example, you may have a colleague who has a sweet tooth. You could decide to take in some chocolates to work that you could share with this individual.

25. Go for a swim.

I’ll be honest, this idea may not be for you. If you’re not a swimmer, then please move on to the next suggestion.

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However, if you do like to swim, and there is a swimming pool local to you, then this is a wonderful way to start your day.

Swimming pools are usually quiet in the morning, so you’re likely to have loads of space for serious swimming – or simply having fun!

26. Meet some friends for breakfast.

Until I was in my 20s, I’d never thought about going out for breakfast with friends. However, I was fortunate to be introduced to this idea by a couple of American friends who were staying with me in London.

I distinctively remember them saying, “Where shall we go for breakfast?” I was taken aback because I had always just had breakfast at home.

I’m glad they persuaded me, though, as I loved having breakfast with them in a local café. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I now regularly meet friends for breakfast. If you haven’t tried it before – give it a go!

27. Check yourself in the mirror.

I’ve heard people say that they don’t like to look in the mirror in the morning because they’re afraid of what they might see!

I’m guessing that they probably look miserable and tired first thing in the morning, and want to avoid been reminded of this. It’s understandable, but I think mirrors are a great tool to use in the morning.

Instead of being afraid of them, use them to check your appearance. You can quickly check your hair and makeup (for example).

But more importantly, you can ensure that you’re looking alert, confident and purposeful.

28. Follow Steve Jobs’ advice.

In a speech he gave at Stanford University in 2005, Steve Jobs revealed that he started each day by asking the following question:

“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”

He went on to say that, if the answer to the question was “no” for several days, then this told him that he needed to make changes in his life.

29. Leave plenty of time for your commute.

Rushing to work is the cause of so much stress and anxiety. One of the problems is that most people seem to leave a set amount of time for their commute – but don’t allow for any delays.

For example, if someone has a 30-minute drive to work, they probably just allow 30 minutes each morning.

However, as soon as there is a broken down vehicle or roadworks, then their schedule is immediately disrupted.

The resolution is simple: always allow more time than you need.

30. Kiss your loved ones before you leave the house.

Don’t be in so much of a hurry in the morning that you forget the most valuable people in your life.

Whether it’s your partner or your children, be sure to hug and kiss them before heading out the door. Relationships are so important – be certain to nurture yours.

The bottom line

Hopefully, the above list will give you plenty of food for thought.

I recommend that you pick out a handful of the above suggestions, and make them a part of your daily routine. Here’re How to Break a Habit and Hack the Habit Loop.

By building these new habits, you’ll find that your days start happier and stronger. You’ll also discover that you’re more motivated and productive than ever before.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Business Review: How Your Morning Mood Affects Your Whole Workday

More by this author

Craig J Todd

Freelance Writer helping businesses and people to thrive.

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Last Updated on April 23, 2019

How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

Stretch goals are a lot like physical fitness. When you adopt a physical sport such as running, continual practice leads to increased stamina, growth and progress.

While commitment to the sport improves performance, true growth happens when you are stretched beyond your comfort zone. I know this from personal experience.

For years, I was an avid runner. I ran with a variety of running groups in the Washington, D.C., area and in Columbus, Ohio, where I lived prior to moving to the nation’s capital in 2011.

While I was initially fearful about slacking off on my exercise habit when I moved to D.C., running enthusiasts in the area provided continual motivation, inspiring me to lace up my shoes day after day. Much to my surprise, many of the area’s running stores (including Pacers and Potomac River Running) boasted running groups that met in the mornings and evenings. So, it was relatively easy for a newcomer like me to connect with like-minded peers.

I was never a particularly fast runner, but I enjoyed the afterglow of the sport: being completely drained but feeling a sense of accomplishment; setting and reaching goals; buying and wearing out new tennis shoes. The sound of throngs of feet pounding the pavement in semi-unison is still enough to bring tears to my eyes. Yes, I sometimes tear up at the start of races.

Of all the groups I ran with, the Pacers Store group that met on Monday nights in Logan Circle boasted the fastest runners. I met up with the group week after week only to be the slowest runner. It was difficult to muster the courage to get up every week and meet the group knowing what was waiting for me: sweating and watching the backs of fellow runners.

Each time I joined the group, I was stretching myself without even realizing it. Instead of feeling like I was transitioning into a better running, for a long time I felt I was torturing myself.

Then something remarkable happened. I went for a run with a different set of runners and noticed my time had improved. I was running at a faster pace and doing so with ease. What was once uncomfortable for me I now handled with ease.

The reason I was becoming a better runner was because I was taking myself out of my comfort zone and challenging myself physically and mentally. This example illustrates the process of growth.

Fortunately, we can create situations that stretch us in our personal and professional lives.

What Is a Stretch Goal?

A stretch goal – as authors Sim B. Sitkin, C. Chet Miller and Kelly E. See detail an article “The Stretch Goal Paradox” in Harvard Business Review[1] – is something that is extremely difficult and novel. It is something that not everyone does, and it’s sometimes considered impossible.

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In general, you establish stretch goals by doing things that are difficult or temporarily challenging.

For instance, when I was first promoted to a senior communications management role, I knew I needed to beef up my relationships with media personalities. I set a goal to once a month book a day of media interviews in New York City – which is home to many media outlets, including SiriusXM radio, CNN, NBC News, HuffPost, VIBE.

This was a huge goal because it meant not only identifying the right people to meet with but convincing them to meet with me and my team. While I didn’t end up meeting the goal of doing a full day of media interviews in New York City, I met more people than I would have met had I not established the goal and instead stayed in the comfort of my D.C. office.

It is important to note that just because you establish a stretch goal doesn’t mean you’ll achieve the goal each time. However, the process of trying is guaranteed to provide some level of growth.

The Importance of Creating Stretch Goals

The beginning of the year is a perfect time to assess where you are excelling and where there is room for you to grow. I typically start the year by creating a yearlong strategic plan for myself.

I think about the things that are necessary to do and things that would be cool to do. I assess the people I should know and think through how to meet them. Then I ask myself if the goals are realistic and what would need to happen for me to achieve them.

Over time, I have learned that there are five things I can do to set stretch goals:

1. Get Outside of Your Head

If I exist within the confines of my imagination, I imperil my own growth and creativity.

If I examine my accomplishments and celebrate them in isolation of others’ accomplishments, my vantage point is limited.

I want to be comfortable with what I accomplish, but I also want to be motivated by watching others. In some respects, stretching is about expanding your network of friends, associates and mentors. These are the people who will propel or slow your growth and development.

Since two are better than one, I always value being able to share my progress with others, seek feedback and then map a plan for success.

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2. Focus on a Couple Areas at a Time

When setting goals, it is important to focus on a couple of areas at a time. Most of us are only able to focus on a few things at a time, and if you feel you are unable to tackle all that is before you, you may simply disengage.

I see this in so many areas of life:

When people get in debt, if they believe the debt is insurmountable, they refuse to look at incoming bills for fear of facing down the debt. Unfortunately, many businesses go awry when setting stretch goals.

In “The Stretch Goal Paradox,” Sitkin, Miller and See note:

“Our research suggests that though the use of stretch goals is quite common, successful use is not. And many executives set far too many stretch goals. In the past five years, for example, Tesla failed to meet more than 20 of founder Elon Musk’s ambitious projections and missed half of them by nearly a year, according to the Wall Street Journal.”

Goal-setting is like a marathon, not a sprint. It doesn’t all need to happen at the same time, and pacing is extremely important if you want to get to the finish line. It is better to focus on a couple goals at a time, master them and then move on to the next thing.

3. Set Aside Time Each Year to Focus on Goal-Setting

When I was a managing director for communications for the Advancement Project, I spent the first part of every year facilitating a communications planning meeting.

The planning meeting began with the team members assessing the goals the team had established in the preceding year, and whether those goals were realistic or not. If we failed to meet certain goals, we broke down why that happened. From there, we brainstormed about possibilities for the current year.

For instance, one year we set a goal of pitching and getting 24 opinion essays published. This was audacious because no one on the eight-person team had the luxury of focusing exclusively on editing and pitching opinion essays to publications around the world. We would need to focus on pitching in between the rest of our work.

We hit this goal within the first eight months of the year. Remarkably, in total, we ended up getting 40 opinion essays published that year, which was an indication that our original goal was too low. We upped the goal to 41 the next year, and amazingly, we hit 42 published opinion essays or guest columns.

From this experience, we not only learned what was feasible, we also learned the power of focus.

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When we focused as a team on getting the commentary on our issues out in the public domain, we were successful. The key in all of this is that there was a ton of discussion around which goal we’d pursue and why.

Equally important, as a manager, I didn’t set the goals alone; the team members and I established the goals collaboratively. This ensured buy-in from each individual.

4. Use the S.M.A.R.T. Goal Model to Set Realistic Goals

S.M.A.R.T.

is a synonym for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. For the sake of this article, the realistic portion of the acronym is most important.

While you want to set audacious goals, you want to ensure that they are realistic as well. No one is served by setting a goal that is impossible to accomplish.

Failing to meet goals can be demoralizing for teams, so it’s important to be sober-eyed about what is possible. Additionally, the purpose of setting goals is to advance and grow, not depress morale.

For instance, my team would have been discouraged had I begun the year asking it to pitch and place 40 opinion essays if we didn’t already have a track record of placing close to two dozen essays.

By using the S.M.A.R.T. formula, we were able to achieve all that we set out to do.

5. Break the Goal up into Small Digestible Parts

I am a recovering perfectionist. As a writer, being a perfectionist can be counterproductive because I can fail to start if I don’t see a clear pathway to victory.

The same is true with goal-setting. That’s why I join Lifehack’s fellow contributor Deb Knobelman, Ph.D., in noting that it is critically important to break goals into bite-sized chunks.

When I had a goal of doing daylong media meetings in New York City, I had to think through all the barriers to achieving that goal and all the steps required to meet the goal.

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One step was identifying which reporters, producers and hosts to engage. Another step was writing a pitch or meeting invitation that would capture their attention. Another step was thinking through the program areas I wanted to highlight and the new angles I could offer to different reporters.

Since reporters want to cover stories that no one else has written, I needed to come up with fresh angles for each of the reporters I was engaging. An additional step was thinking through who from my team I’d take with me to the various meetings.

I was clear that, as a talking head, as public relations reps are sometimes called, I needed the right spokesperson in order to land repeated meetings with different outlets.

A final step was thinking through what I needed to bring to each meeting and which reports, videos and testimonials would buttress our claims and be of interest to media figures.

As I walked through what was needed to bring my goal of doing daylong meetings to reality, I realized that not only was the idea within reach, but I was excited to tackle the challenge.

From that point until now, I have learned to break down goals into smaller parts and tackle the smaller parts on the path to knocking the goal out of the park.

The Bottom Line

These are my recommendations for setting stretch goals, and there are a ton of other resources to support you in the workplace and in your community.

For instance, LinkedIn’s Lynda.com platform has a wonderful suite of leadership development videos, including ones on establishing stretch goals. This is a paid resource but may be worth the investment if you lead a team or want to invest in tools for your own growth and development.

Featured photo credit: Avatar of user Isaac Smith Isaac Smith @isaacmsmith Isaac Smith via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Business Review: The Stretch Goal Paradox

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