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Published on June 5, 2018

The Ultimate Morning Routine to Make You Happy And Productive All Day

The Ultimate Morning Routine to Make You Happy And Productive All Day

Let me just start by saying, I’m not what you would consider a morning person. I’m not a terrible dragon by any means. But, with three kids, the dog, a job and an active life, I have to admit that I like my sleep.

My husband was reading a book recently about the power of a morning routine. I asked him to share the summary of what he learned. It all sounded great; but the idea of implementing a lengthy morning routine or getting up an hour early to do a variety of things makes me want to go right back to bed. We only have so much ‘bandwidth’ and willpower in a day, and personally, I don’t want to use it all up by 7am.

When I asked what he had done with this book’s great suggestions, the answer was nothing. He loved the ideas and concepts but hadn’t changed anything in his life.

This is the thing about most advice (on any topic really). It’s not that it doesn’t work, it’s that it doesn’t work for everybody. Any habit you are trying to change or create needs to take into account your unique personality, lifestyle and challenges.

Have you ever set out with great intentions to do something – a new diet, exercise regimen or morning routine, only to fall flat on your face a few days or weeks later? Then what? You beat yourself up that you didn’t do it ‘right’, that you failed.

Here’s the thing, you haven’t failed, you have just found something that doesn’t work for you. And now, it’s time to find something that does. What works for a friend, colleague or spouse will not necessarily work for you.

There is a perfect morning routine that will make YOU happy and productive all day – you just have to find yours.

Which is why, rather than give you a specific, one-size-fits-all morning routine, I’m going to give you some options. Think of it like a menu. You get to choose what makes sense for your life, with your personality, motivations, goals, desires and circumstances.

The benefits of a morning routine

As Hal Elrod, author of “The Miracle Morning”, says,

“Focused, productive successful mornings generate focused, productive, successful days – which inevitably create a successful life.”

A morning routine is said to boost happiness, increase productivity, reduce stress levels and get you grounded and settled for the day. It’s about getting started on the ‘right foot’.

A morning routine also allows you to start your morning with intention, rather than letting the day run away from you. You control the day; the day doesn’t control you. This positive feeling of being on top of things has results in a positive feeling and effect on your entire day.

    As with many things in life, small changes lead to big results. It’s the compounding effect.

    Tony Robbins’ morning routine “includes a nutritional supplement, meditation, workout, and sauna-to-cold-plunge combo.” You can check it out here. Arianna Huffington shares hers here.

    In fact, most great entrepreneurs and leaders throughout history cite their morning routine as a large contributor to their success. But it’s not just entrepreneurs and leaders that benefit from a morning routine. We all can.

    A good friend and colleague of mine just started a new morning routine and here’s what she had to say: “I love waking up before my family and having dedicated ‘me’ time. This means my kids aren’t the ones waking me up… if they’re the ones waking me up, it means I immediately have something to do. Waking up for me, early, gives me time to do what I need so when they wake up, I’m excited to greet them for the day.”

    We’ve established a morning routine is important and valuable, are you ready to create yours?

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    How to create your ultimate morning routine:

    As a coach and consultant with a diverse background, it’s important to me to look at this from a wholistic point of view. Let’s look at the morning routine through the lens of Integrative Wellness principles, which take into account the four aspects or ‘systems’ of you: Mental, Emotional, Physical and Spiritual.

      You can also think of this as Mind, Heart, Body and Spirit.

      You’ll probably notice as we talk through examples that some activities or habits cover multiple systems of your body. Awesome! If you can leverage your time and get two, three or four system benefits for the price of one, even better!

      Let’s look at each of these areas more specifically.

      Mentally

      Put simply, this has to do with your mind, including thoughts, beliefs, values, goals, hopes, dreams, desires and plans.

      Some options to create a positive mental space in the morning include:

      Set goals.

      I have a friend that puts up three Post-it notes every morning. They include the three most important goals she has for the day. This gives her something to focus on – and make sure she achieves throughout her day.

      And because it’s only three things, it still leaves room for other things that come up – so there’s built in flexibility too.

      Make a list.

      Get it off your mind. Sometimes in the night we worry, waking up thinking about what we need to accomplish. This means we wake up already feeling behind. Instead, if there’s something you know you need to do, write it down.

      Make a list so you can free you mind for more important thinking.

      Create a plan/schedule for the day.

      When you know you’ve got a hectic day ahead, a little planning can go a long way. Have a look on your calendar and see what’s there – integrate your goals and your list of to-do’s so you have a plan of action.

      Read something that feeds your mind.

      My Dad loves reading the Wall Street Journal in the morning. It starts his day on the right foot.

      A friend of mine reads for 10 minutes and this habit has brought her immense joy. The way she sees it, if she reads a page a minute, her 10 minutes a day will turn into 3,650 pages read by the end of the year or 12 300-page books! For someone who could never find time to read, she’s now finishing great books and feeling awesome about it.

      Emotionally

      This is all about your feelings, emotions and relationships. You can think of it as all things related to the heart.

      Some things you can do in the morning to help your emotional well-being include:

      Express gratitude.

      New research continues to surface on the science and benefits of gratitude. Studies have now proven a multitude of benefits from expressing gratitude; ranging from how it improves relationships, physical and emotional health, sleep, mental stamina, energy and overall happiness. I have a simple practice; before I get out of bed in the morning, I think of two things I feel grateful for. In the “5 Minute Journal”, one of the first things you do in the morning is write down three things you are grateful for. You choose the number- but expressing gratitude for a great way to kick-start the day.

      Hug your kid, spouse or pet.

      Hugging boosts your oxytocin levels (the love hormone), increases serotonin (elevates mood and creates happiness), strengthens the immune system, boosts self-esteem, lowers blood pressure, balances the nervous system and releases tension. Put simply, hugging makes you feel good. Find someone – or something – to hug. It only takes a few seconds and it can put you in a positive mood for the day.

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      Connect with a friend, family member or anyone who makes you feel joyous, happy and connected.

      When I wake up my kiddos, it would be easy to open the door and call for them to get up. Instead, I take a few extra moments to go up to each of them (not easy when they sleep in loft beds), kiss them good morning and take a moment to connect. My husband takes his morning commute time to call friends and family and connect with them. In both approaches, we’re not taking more time out of our day or adding something to our to-do list, we’re including it in something that already is happening in our daily routine.

      Identify what makes you feel good.

      What brings you happiness, joy or excitement for the day ahead? What makes you feel grounded or connected on a deeper level? Meditation, yoga, breathwork? Get more of that.

      Physically

      All those things we think about that we can do with our body or physical space. This might include what we eat or drink, how we move and anything that has to do with our physical selves.

      Here are some options for increasing your physical well-being in the morning:

      Get moving.

      Get the blood flowing. We all know the benefits of exercise. This might be a run, hike, trip to the gym, yoga, stretching or finding your own short workout. Remember, what works for one person will not work for everyone.

      For example, my husband and I thought it would be a great idea to get a trainer once a week. Every Thursday we woke up at 5:45am, got ready and worked out from 6-7am. This might have seemed like a good idea, but it really didn’t work for me. I really didn’t like getting up that early and forcing my body to work out before it was ready.

      I tried it for several months, trying to convince myself it was good for me. But it didn’t feel good. I didn’t enjoy it and it didn’t help me have a more productive day. What does work? My husband gets up and takes the dog for a walk/run and I take my morning hike/do my exercise/yoga once the kids are off to school. Again, this is about what works for you – listen to your body.

      Drink lemon water.

      Before you reach for that first cup of coffee, reach first for something that hydrates you. I drink warm lemon water. I got this tip from a 94-year-old grandmother in Australia almost 20 years ago. She swore her health and her life benefited from this habit.

      Need a few more reasons? Check these out here . I usually throw in a bag of ‘detox’ tea and drink this as I take the kiddos to school.

      Eat a good breakfast.

      What does that mean for you? A protein smoothie? Great. Avocado Toast? Awesome. Oatmeal? Fantastic. Eat a healthy, ‘real-food’ breakfast to get you going.

      Ground yourself.

      You can do this in many ways.

      A few years back, I was going through a period of high anxiety. A bodyworker recommended I start each day by stepping out of bed and grounding my feet into the earth. I sit at the edge of my bed and feel the earth under my feet for a moment, picturing the roots of a tree. You can then feel this move through your whole spine and body.

      While I don’t do this exercise every day, if I wake up feeling slightly anxious or stressed, I take the extra minute to ground and get connected. Another technique I use most days is to place one hand on my heart and one on my stomach and just breathe for a few minutes. This instantly calms and relaxes my entire body.

      Clean your physical space.

      When our physical space is cluttered, our minds often feel the same way.

      What makes you feel settled? I have a client who feels better when she makes her bed. If she doesn’t, her day seems to go downhill.

      What works for you? Tidy up your workspace. Get the clothes in the hamper. Whatever makes you feel more settled in your physical space, it is worth the effort.

      Read this article if you aren’t sure how to declutter.

      Spiritually

      This can be anything related to you and a feeling of inspiration, which means, ‘in spirit’. While it doesn’t have to convey religion, it may for you. It’s more about what you need to feel connected to something deeper, bigger, higher – and what makes you feel most connected to yourself.

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      Here are a few examples:

      Meditation.

      While some of you may be reading this thinking, YES, I love my morning meditation practice, others might be feeling a sense of stress or trepidation reading yet another article about meditation.

      If you’re feeling hesitant but want to try it out, there are a ton of great apps (The Mindfulness app, Headspace and Calm) and other resources out there for you. I found this guided morning mediation years ago and still use it when I need something short and sweet.

      I also love the free 21-day guided meditations from Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey Many clients and friends have found this an ‘easy entry’.

      And, if you’re one of those people who feel they can’t meditate (I feel you, I WAS one of you!), guided meditations are your new best friend. Check out a few and see what works for you.

      Be in nature.

      Find a place you can sit or walk and just be. Notice the colors of the trees and the sky, the smells in the air. What do you hear if you listen closely? Take a moment to feel the earth beneath your feet or the breeze against your face.

      Take a walk in nature and you’ve got physical and spiritual needs covered all in one go!

      Interestingly, I was raised Jewish and went to temple growing up. Until at some point along the way, my Mom decided that the best way for her to connect with something greater than herself was to be outside. From that moment on, we spent all of our ‘high holidays’ outside in nature together.

      Religious study.

      My brother is an incredible example of this. Every morning, he gets up early and does his bible study. He sits at the kitchen table (or wherever he is at the time), reads a passage and writes notes. He then finishes by writing a note to his wife. Since he’s not a verbal person, it allows him to ensure that his wife knows he is thinking about her.

      Incredible and romantic? Yes. This also covers his spiritual and emotional needs in one go. More importantly, it grounds him. It allows him to reflect on the day ahead. It connects him to something greater than himself and makes him feel calm going into the day, knowing that he has invested in his spiritual and personal relationships before anything else.

      Connect to yourself.

      Know what it means to be true to you and take a moment to get grounded in yourself. Here are 11 Ways to be true to you to get you started.

      Additional tips for the ultimate morning routine

      As you build your morning routine, there’re things you need to remember.

      What to keep in mind

      1. A healthy morning routine starts the night before.

      Getting quality sleep is essential to starting your mornings off right. Make sure you get the recommended 7-9 hours (or whatever works for you). If you’re going to get up earlier for your morning routine, you need to go to bed earlier.

      Here are some basic ways to get a good night’s sleep:

      • Get off your electronics at least an hour before bed (and set them to DND or leave them outside of your bedroom).
      • Make sure you have a comfortable pillow and mattress.
      • Set a consistent sleep routine, reduce outside noise and sleep in a well-darkened room or wear an eye mask.

      You may want to take reference of Lifehack’s CEO Leon, who has a consistent night routine to keep him sleep well and wake up energetic.

      2. Keep it simple.

      Find one or two things (three max) that you feel will work for YOU to get you on a roll. Start with a quick win and work your way up from there.

      I don’t recommend choosing eight things and then giving up – or beating yourself up because you couldn’t make it work. If you put too much on your plate, you won’t do anything. Eventually, you’ll want to have at least one activity from each of the four categories, but you can start small and work your way up.

      3. Take a test drive.

      Once you’ve settled on a few concepts that you think will work for you, try them for a few days before you decide if it does/doesn’t work. Like with any habit, you need at least 21 days to create something that sticks.

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      4. Set a reminder.

      Put something in place that reminds you of your morning routine. Here are 24 habit tracking apps you could try.

      Or if you’re more old-school like me, find a symbol to remind you – put a Post-it on your bathroom mirror, a note on the fridge or a physical symbol to remind you what you’re doing.

      5. Integrate.

      Find ways to integrate your morning routine into what you’re already doing, rather than adding more on your ‘to-do’ list. You can also double up, finding activities that covering a couple multiple ‘systems’ of your body.

      What not to do

      You now have some great options about what to do. But having a great morning routine that energizes you is also as much about what not to do in the morning!

      Think about what doesn’t work for you. Are there things that happen or you do that get you started off on the wrong foot? That pull you off-track or out of stride?

      Do you hate waking up to the sounds of the ‘alarm’ and need a better way to rise? Perhaps you are decimated by negativity and need to make sure you protect yourself from negative news or people early in the day?

      For me, it’s my phone. I have my best mornings when I don’t check my phone or email. I find that when I check my email, it distracts me from my morning and starts me off in the wrong direction. My mind has gone down a rathole of everything I’ve just read, how I’m going to respond, what I need to do…. and I’m not longer present in my morning. I’ve made it a non-negotiable part of my morning routine to not check my emails before my kids go to school.

      Time to build your ultimate morning routine!

        You’ve had a look at the menu, now it’s time to decide what you’re going to have. It’s time to create your ultimate morning routine.

        Remember, like with anything in life, there’s no one-size-fits all approach. If you’re:

        • Someone who thrives from positive energy, make sure whatever you do first gives you that burst of positivity.
        • Someone who needs to have a plan, then try the three Post-it strategy or create your plan for the day.
        • Someone who needs to physically exert yourself, go for that morning run or hike.
        • Someone who needs to think, find time for your reading, strategizing and journaling.
        • Someone whose mind races, try meditation.

        Take a moment to think about what resonates with you the most. Do you need five minutes or an hour? What feels like it will ground you or energize you?

        Maybe there are a couple ideas that stood out, or one in particular you just know you need to do. What can you commit to right now in your life, with your current circumstances and everything you know about you?

        Then do it. Get started tomorrow morning.

        You’ll be more happy, productive, energized and thankful you did.

        Featured photo credit: Twenty20 via twenty20.com

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        Tracy Kennedy

        I'm a results-driven life coach + consultant, dedicated to helping you achieve greater levels of happiness, fulfillment + success.

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        Last Updated on August 7, 2018

        14 Powerful Leadership Traits That All Great Leaders Have

        14 Powerful Leadership Traits That All Great Leaders Have

        Being a leader of a company or organization is certainly a difficult and often frustrating position – but it can also be tremendously rewarding.

        Whether you’re just starting out as a leader, or have been leading for a while, you’ll be sure to benefit from knowing the essential traits that all great leaders possess.

        Effective and successful leaders transcend the title of ‘manager’ or ‘boss’. They’ve found a way to achieve the perfect combination of charisma, enthusiasm and self-assurance (with a healthy dose of luck and timing probably added to the mix).

        It may seem like some people are gifted with leadership skills, but the truth is most leadership traits can be learned, adopted, and strengthened with time and practice.

        As we delve into the list of effective leadership traits, you will learn the behaviors and attitudes of a good leader.

        The 14 most important leadership traits

        Please read through the list of leadership qualities carefully. Take note of which of the traits you excel at – and which ones you need to work at.

        Traits for better self-development

        1. Vision and mission

        Having a clear picture of what needs to be achieved is a crucial quality of good leadership.

        This vision is often communicated in a mission statement, such as this one from Starbucks:

          How to develop vision? Spend time pinpointing what you need to achieve, and then plan the steps to get there. Here’s a complete guide on creating your own vision.

          2. Self-motivated

          It’s no coincidence that successful leaders have an abundance of self-motivation.

          Without a decent level of self-motivation, you’ll struggle to become a strong and respected leader. However, if you don’t have a lot of self-motivation right now, don’t despair.

          One of the secrets is to have definite goals to keep you motivated at all times. Some people also choose to reward themselves every time they achieve a goal, and this is certainly a good way to keep yourself enthused and motivated. Learn how to set an ambitious yet achievable goal here.

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          3. Optimism and positivity

          Positive energy is contagious. Great leaders are overflowing with this type of energy.

          Not only does a positive mindset make leaders easy to work with, but it also gives them a constant source of inspiration and ideas.

          Tap into this energy by aligning yourself with positive people and positive goals. Find out more about the habits of positive people here.

          4. Emotional stability

          In leadership positions, frustration and stress are daily occurrences. This is why leaders need to have strong and stable emotions. They can’t allow themselves to be easily knocked off track.

          If you’re prone to losing your emotional stability when stressed or frustrated, try some of these techniques: breath deeply and slowly for 30 seconds, go for a walk, drink some water (instead of tea or coffee), turn your focus onto something you can resolve. Here’re some effective ways to control your emotions.

          5. Self-confidence

          Watch a presentation by any CEO and you’ll see that even if they’re not natural presenters – they make up for this by having powerful self-confidence.

          It’s not just CEOs who have self-confidence, any successful leader will have this trait in abundance. One reason for this, is that only a confident person can persuade others and gain their respect.

          Worried that you have low self-confidence? Try faking it. Psychologists often recommend that if you ‘act’ at being confident, you’ll start to look, sound and feel like you ARE confident. And in time… you will be.

          If you look for more ways to boost your self-confidence, this confidence coach has got you some nice advice:

          How to Be Confident: 62 Proven Ways to Build Self-Confidence

          6. Decisiveness

          Leaders are frequently called upon to make decisions (some leaders may have to make dozens of decisions every day). In fact, you could say that making decisions is one of the key things a leader must do.

          Spend some time observing highly-successful leaders and you’ll see that they are quick to make decisions. They also enjoy making decisions, rather than stressing out like many non-leaders do when they’re asked to decide on something.

          Put yourself in the leadership bracket by developing your decision-making skills. Start with small decisions – and then work your way up to bigger and more difficult decisions. Once other people notice your decision-making prowess, they’ll automatically see you as leadership material.

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          I know it’s really quite difficult to make the right decisions sometimes, but don’t worry, here’s a guide for you:

          How To Make Good Decisions All The Time

          7. Passion and enthusiasm

          Expressive. Active. Energetic. These are words best describe a passionate leader.

          Great leaders are lively, driven and are possessed with zeal and purpose. It’s this passion that helps them achieve big results. If you want to emulate their success, then you need to develop passion and enthusiasm for the work at hand, and the end goals.

          Take a look at this Passion Pyramid to find out how importance a leader’s passion is to the team:

            One way to do this is to find what motivates you, and keep your focus firmly on that. For example, i f you’re motivated by helping others, then make sure your role and company are both suited to realizing this. If you’re motivated by money, then put your focus on achieving bonuses and pay rises.

            Take a look at Leo Babauta’s guide on how to find your passion.

            8. Accountability and responsibility

            Exceptional leaders know that at all times they’ll need to take responsibility for tasks and their results. This includes things likes individual and team performance, as well as being accountable for when things go wrong.

            When negative things occur (and you can guarantee they will from time-to-time), a great leader will immediately step in and take responsibility. Initially, they’ll try to resolve the problem in as quick and smooth a way as possible. But if this is not feasible, they’ll be sure to say that the buck stops with them – and they take full responsibility for what has happened.

            To develop your leadership skills, you must never shy away from responsibility or accountability. If you prefer to sweep mistakes under the carpet, then you’re demonstrating non-leadership traits. Try owning up to issues and finding solutions to them. By doing this, you’ll immediately gain people’s respect.

            Find out some tips on how to be a more responsible person here.

            9. Focus

            Distractions are everywhere. And it takes major focus to stay committed to tasks and goals. The best leaders understand this, and therefore, they’re always looking at ways to boost their team’s focus.

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            One way leaders do this, is to keep their team intensely focused on the bigger picture. This might entail allocating specific time for tasks and eliminating any non-essential work.

            If you’re easily knocked off track, you’ll need to spend some time boosting your focus. Try planning your day, week, month and year to help ensure that you don’t fall behind with achieving your goals. Check out the 7 strategies of staying super focus recommended by a productivity coach.

            10. Ever-learning

            Leaders know that to be successful they need to continually update their skills and knowledge. They deliberately learn all they can about their profession and industry, so they’ll able to make confident and assured decisions.

            Why is ever learning so important? I’ll leave it to you to find out the reason here:

            If I Am Living a Good Life, Why Should I Bother Learning New Stuff?

            Imagine a CEO of a solar power company. His company may have amazing solar panels, but when it comes to discussing business with potential buyers, if the CEO or his sales team show a lack of understanding about the solar industry and future trends, etc., they’ll be unlikely to win any business.

            It’s exactly the same for you. If you’re a team leader at an electronics store, you should make sure you fully understand all the products that you offer. But go beyond just that, and read about upcoming products and trends that might change what customers are interesting in buying in the future.

            Traits for effective communication

            11. Empathy

            The best leaders understand the feeling of their team members, customers and associates. They know when to praise, and when to discuss problems (usually in private).

            Without empathy, leaders will be seen as cold, harsh and lacking understanding. They’re also likely to be regarded as untrustworthy.

            One way to ‘put yourself in someone else’s shoes’ is to have regular informal discussions with your colleagues. When you do this, you’ll quickly learn their fears and desires. And when you understand why they have these – you’ll be in a position to express empathy. You can also learn to be more sensitive to others’ needs by taking up these communication skills.

            12. Persuasive and influential

            Communications are at the heart of all transactions. Whether it’s pitching for a sale or resolving a customer complaint, how you communicate will determine the outcome.

            Charismatic leaders such as Richard Branson (Virgin) and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) are confident and persuasive communicators. They know how to win over audiences and leave a lasting impressing in people’s minds.

            There’re some common barriers that you’ll have to overcome in order to communicate effectively:

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            How to learn effective communication? You could join the world-renowned U.S. nonprofit Toastmasters International. They’ve been training people in the art of public speaking since 1924, and members have included Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, and Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy.

            If you don’t have time to join a club, then practice your communications skills at home. You can do this in front of a mirror, or even better, video yourself presenting, and then ask some friends and family members for feedback. You’ll be amazed at what they pick up on.

            Traits for ensuring an engaging team

            13. Team building

            If you put a bunch of random people together, you may have a loose definition of a team. In reality, a real team has purpose, drive – and a leader lighting the way.

            If you’ve worked in different teams and with different managers, you’ll no doubt have come to this conclusion:

            Managers who treat their team members like children are unpopular with the team. Conversely, managers who treat their team members like adults, are respected and well-liked by the team.

            The days of disciplinarian managers are passed. Nowadays, successful team leaders know how to inspire and motivate their team, while keeping a harmonious atmosphere between all team members.

            14. Fostering creativity

            Solutions to problems are rarely black and white. Often it takes a leader who can ‘think outside the box’ to come up with answers. In other words, a leader must be creative, and also help to foster creativity and innovation throughout their team.

            Creativity is not only associated with pursuits such as arts, literature and music, running a team can be just as creative. There will be times every day when you need to come up with ideas and give guidelines for your team to come up with theirs to solve problems.

            Leadership is a journey of continuous learning

            Leadership is an amazing experience that will take you on roads you’ve never traveled before.

            Begin now to build your skills and experience, pick out the traits that you currently lack – and then work on developing those.

            It will take tons of practice and time before becoming an effective leader but eventually you will join the ranks of great leaders.

            Featured photo credit: unsplash via unsplash.com

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