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5 Keys to a Great Morning

5 Keys to a Great Morning

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.

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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)

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– 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.

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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.

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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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Last Updated on August 10, 2020

10 Principles for Success to Live Your Dream Life

10 Principles for Success to Live Your Dream Life

Are you stressed out and overwhelmed, wishing you had more time to do the things that really matter? Are you ready to do something better, something special in your life or your career?

If you’re ready to do what you want in life, then the 10 principles of success are what you need to follow.

You were born with a gift that no one else in the world can express like you. When you dance to your own music, you naturally develop your innate abilities and excel in work and life. You are a total rock star. But when you live someone else’s idea of who you should be, it throws off your groove.

Many people—maybe you—stopped following their dreams way too early in life because their talents were ignored, minimized, or shamed. They didn’t have the chops to win an American Idol competition or nab an Olympic gold medal, so they stopped expressing their inborn gifts altogether.

You don’t need to be an award winner to rock your life. Living your dream life is about discovering your superpowers and feeling vibrant and joyful when you use them. It’s about owning what makes you unique and finding like-minded people to support you.

Here are 10 success principles to help you live a rich and rewarding life on your terms that have worked with thousands of people in my workshops and will work for you, too.

1. Get a Hobby to Move Closer to Your Dreams

If you never became a professional dancer or a world-renowned author, it does NOT mean you should stop dancing or writing! These activities make you come alive, even if you “only” do them as favorite pastimes.

Engaging in a hobby is one of the most important success principles you can follow to move closer to your dreams.

When you try something creative for the first time or in a long while, you begin to see opportunities at work and in life that you were unaware of before. You also feel happier and more energized, according to a recent study from New Zealand.[1]

Some of my most burned-out executive clients reinvigorated their careers by discovering a creative outlet that refueled them after the workday ended. Research at San Francisco State University shows that having a hobby lowers stress and helps you succeed at work.[2]

So, give yourself permission to try new things and revisit old passions you gave up long ago. Setting aside just one hour a week for personal exploration can significantly change your life.

Who knows? Your creative outlet could transform into a thriving business or lead to a new profession down the road.

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2. Focus on Your Strengths, Not Your Weaknesses

Did you know that you are more likely to succeed when you develop your natural strengths rather than work on your weaknesses? The problem is that you probably don’t know where your true talents lie.

Here are a few options to help you discover your unique strengths. You can:

  • Take the VIA Character Strengths Survey[3]
  • Try Gallup’s CliftonStrengths Assessment[4]
  • Answer a few Superpower Questions

Once you understand what makes you tick, you can use these skills at work and your personal life to get more done in less time. If you boost your unique abilities through practice and study, you can accelerate your career and become a leader in a field that matters to you. It’s worth investing in yourself this way.

3. Jumping off a Cliff is NOT Required

Here’s the deal: most people are too afraid to change. When participants first come to my workshops, they tell me they have mouths to feed, bills to pay, and fear that if they follow their dreams, someone will get hurt.

The old saying “leap and the net shall appear” does not comfort them. Because they are hesitant to plunge into the unknown, they believe their only option is to stay put where they are in life. Can you relate?

You do not have to sacrifice the life you have now to start a new one. I was a psychology professor by day and singer by night for years before I transitioned into a full-time music career.

Just take a little time out each week to do what enlivens you through a hobby, volunteer work, etc. Get a feel for it.

Is it what you really want? If so, increase the time you spend doing it and make the transition when the time feels right.

4. Give Your Inner Critic Some Love

The main culprit that keeps you from stepping outside your comfort zone and getting the life of your dreams is KCRP or K-CRAP – the radio station that plays 24/7 in your head. The moment you try to do something interesting with your life it slaps you down with such chart-topping killer hooks as “Who do you think you are?” and “You’ll never be good enough!”.

Have you ever noticed that KCRP’s mean-spirited DJ sounds like your parents, teachers, bosses, and other authority figures who shut you down creatively? These folks don’t need to stifle you any longer (although they often still do) because your inner critic does it for them. That keeps you stuck in a rut.

To break free, try thinking of this DJ as a gruff old grandfather who gives you crap to keep you safe. Remember, this grumpy grandpa is woefully out of touch with the times. So, his stern opinions don’t really matter much, do they? Give him a pat on the back for his good intentions, and put your focus back on what makes you come alive.

This success principle will give you the courage to venture into the unknown where you can dance to the beat of your own drummer.

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5. Embrace Your Inner Self

Many of us don’t go after our dreams because we’re afraid folks will find out how odd or strange we are. But our little eccentricities often turn out to be our greatest strengths. Yes, it’s good to be quirky.

Odds are, you lost track of your true passions and talents before you were even old enough to know you were getting off-track. You became slowly “adulterated” by learning to:

  • Take on family roles that don’t match who you really are.
  • Spit back what teachers taught you in school rather than risk getting bad grades for being original.
  • Hide parts of yourself that don’t seem acceptable to certain social groups.

The price for fitting in is that you may wind up leading a life that doesn’t fit you all that well. Your true calling becomes clear when you embrace what makes you different from others and allow yourself to stand out from the crowd, even if it feels awkward. Often, the very qualities you view as your flaws are your greatest gifts.

Here’s How to Listen to Your Inner Voice for Greater Fulfillment.

6. See the Bigger Picture to Find Your True Calling

I cannot stress the importance of this success principle enough. Your true calling is right in front of you. But you may miss it because you’re looking for it in the wrong place.

To “see” it clearly, try widening your point of view.

Case in point: Maria felt she needed to retire early from being a police detective, so she could travel abroad. I encouraged Maria to think of ways that she could continue to serve as a law enforcer (a career she loved) and travel overseas at the same time.

A few months later, Maria landed a job with the United Nations in Bosnia training the local police force to understand and embrace human rights procedures.

Like Maria, you are an everyday rock star capable of accomplishing greater things than you can imagine. Is what you’re looking for right in front of you, too? Do you have an inkling of what it may be?

Look beyond your day-to-day activities, your current job, and even the town you live in. View your life from an eagle’s perspective and be open to new possibilities.

7. Try a Little Wish-List Magic

Pretend I’m your fairy godmother and I give you permission right now to be your most magnificent self. What kind of life would be music to your ears? It doesn’t matter whether it seems unattainable or even downright crazy. Write it down on a wish list.

Get quiet. Be honest. Think big.

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What would you like your career, your relationships, your health, your finances, and your spiritual life to be like? Jot down enough details so that your wishes seem tangible to you. Then, look at this list every morning before you start your day and every night before you go to sleep.

Sounds silly? It’s not. It works! Permitting yourself to daydream about a rich and fulfilling life is the first step to manifesting it.

8. Take Breaks to Get Clues About Your Ideal Future

Did you know that working straight through to a deadline leads to diminishing returns? Research shows that taking a break for 15 minutes every 75 to 90 minutes can help you recharge, refresh your focus, and get more done in less time.[5]

Wait, it gets better! A Stanford study shows that walking increases your creative output increases by 60 percent. Doing repetitive activities such as walking, running, riding your bike, swimming, and sweeping allow solutions to problems to pop into your mind out of nowhere.[6]

What does this success principle have to do with creating your dream life?

These mini-breaks allow you to get vital clues for what to do next to attain your ideal future. Plus, you won’t waste precious time and energy getting lost in other people’s agendas.

9. Take Action on Your Inspired Ideas

Once an inspired thought pops into your mind, take action.

This is one of the most powerful success principles for turning your dreams into reality; the sooner the better. Whatever it is—from calling an old friend to taking a new route home—be sure to do it!

Pay attention to your oddball hunches. You need to go after what you want, not just dream about it. As comedian Jim Carrey warns,

“You can’t just visualize and go eat a sandwich.”

10. Count Your Rockstar Moments

Still not sure you have what it takes to get your dream life? This final success principle is guaranteed to help.

Make a list of everything you’ve ever accomplished. As you read back through it, put a star next to each item, and let it sink in.

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You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how good you’ll feel about yourself afterward. You’ll also see how effective you’ve been in the past at getting what you want. You’ve succeeded before, you can succeed again.

You already rock. You just need to own it. Trust me, you’ve got this!

Final Thoughts

Eleanor Roosevelt said,

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Following these success principles will help you find the time and energy to do the things that really matter and live with clear intention.

By spending just one hour a week doing something you love, focusing on your strengths and achievements, embracing what makes you different, and acting on inspired ideas, you can create a life that is a perfect fit for you, step-by-step.

If you don’t have a clue about what your dream life could look like yet, don’t worry. Your heart knows. It has been “talking” to you for a long time. It’s just being muffled by KCRP, buried under a lot of “shoulds” and fear.

This article can also help you figure out the life you truly want to live: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up.

Stand still, get quiet, and listen. It’s constantly telling you what you need to do to realize your own rockstar potential. It may be just a whisper now, but the more you pay attention to it, the louder it will get, and the easier it will be to follow.

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Featured photo credit: Rahul Dey via unsplash.com

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