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15 Things Highly Successful People Do At The Beginning Of The Day That You Should, Too

15 Things Highly Successful People Do At The Beginning Of The Day That You Should, Too

What you do when you wake up in the morning sets the tone for the entire day.

And yet, if you are like most people, you spend it battling your alarm, anxious about what the day holds, distracted by things you know you should do later, yelling at your kids to hurry up, grabbing a quick cup of coffee, and then rushing out the door. You carry the shadow of these feelings with you throughout the day, and this limits your ability to be a successful leader.

Here are 15 things that successful people do at the beginning of the day to set them up for a great day.

1. They meditate to lower stress.

Did you know that the most stressful time of the day is actually first thing in the morning? This is when our cortisol levels are the highest, which is partially responsible for things like morning rage. Meditation can help you clear away these feelings and center your mind to start the day in a calm place.

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2. They reflect on what they stand for.

To be a successful leader, you need to make decisions from your core set of beliefs and what character traits you want to cultivate. This may not always be easy to remember in the heat of the moment. Spend a minute or two each morning reminding yourself of these values, and what they mean to you: “I am kind; I am compassionate; I see the best in others; I make decisions quickly.”

3. They plan their day.

This can be done either the night before or the morning of. Check your list of To Dos and upcoming appointments, and figure out what are the most important actions for your day. Schedule them out, with a bit of buffer time. Make sure to plan only what will fit, and no more!

4. They check their email—but only for a set amount of time.

It’s important to check in with your team at the beginning of the day to make sure that everyone has what they need to have a fulfilling, productive day. However, don’t “fall” into an email pit and spend the whole morning on email: set a time limit (say, 1 hour) and address only the most important emails at that time.

5. They don’t get caught up in drama.

You may find some incendiary emails in your inbox, and be tempted to jump into the fray. Don’t. Remember, the beginning of your day is your time to set the tone for the day. Focus on the big-picture priorities and vision, and leave the drama resolution to a lower-priority time of the day, where it belongs.

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6. They stretch.

We need our bodies to perform a variety of functions for us throughout the day, so give your body a stretch first thing in the morning to get it ready for what’s ahead. This is especially crucial if you are going to be sitting at a desk all day.

7. They pay attention to their partners.

Remember that your partner is preparing for their day, too. They might need a few words of encouragement from you, or a quick back rub to relax (see #1), and a few minutes of your attention can make all the difference in the world. Remember, “successful” doesn’t just mean at work.

8. They pick up after themselves.

There is something relaxing and recharging about coming home after a long day’s work to a clean home. While it may be tempting to leave that outfit you decided not to wear on the bed, or your dirty dishes on the counter, you will pay the energetic price for it later. So take the extra 30 seconds and straighten up after yourself.

9. They leave plenty of time.

If you start your day by rushing around and stressing out that you are going to be late, that will be the tone you set for the rest of your day. Is that really how you want your day to go? Instead, get up plenty early, honor your time commitments, and get out the door when you say you will.

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10. They “plant the seeds” for tough projects.

Take a look at your schedule and anticipate what the most challenging parts will be. Start to mentally prepare yourself, and reflect on the open questions that need answering. Your subconscious brain will continue to think about these things throughout the day, and will often come up with the solutions for you.

11. They take their vitamins.

For many people, the morning is the most consistent time of the day, and so lends itself well to doing daily tasks like taking your vitamins, or remembering to give your pets their medications.

12. They avoid distractions.

As tempting as it might be to pop in on Facebook or get that one remaining chore done, it’s usually a good idea to eliminate distractions so that you can focus on the important work of creating your day. Schedule time for those later.

13. They think of what they are grateful for.

It’s easy to think about everything that stresses you out, but the truth is likely that you have far more things to be grateful for than you have things to be worried about. Remind yourself of this each morning by thinking of at least 5 things that you are grateful for. You will start your day happier and more confident that life really is good.

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14. They drink water.

After not drinking anything while sleeping, your body is actually more dehydrated than you might think. Down a glass of water first thing in the morning, and you will be surprised how much that impacts your sense of physical well-being.

15. They make it all a habit.

Habits are all about efficiency. If you do the same routine day in and day out, not only will you get the results you want, but you also will spend less mental energy doing that routine because it has become automatic. That mental energy can be used for the important pursuits in your life.

Which one or two items from this list will YOU implement in your mornings? Write a note and share.

Love,

Samantha

Featured photo credit: Wiertz Sebastien – back to Kung Fu/Wiertz Sebastien via flickr.com

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Last Updated on April 22, 2021

How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

Habits are what sets an average leader apart from a great leader. We can argue that talent is the biggest factor; we may debate how the amount of charisma sets the two apart. Yet, if you were to show me what you believed to be a great leader, I can show you the habits that made her/him great. Great leaders have great habits and know how to work hard the smart way.

Developing Great Habits Is Hard Work

In my early college days, I had spent a lot of time learning how to play the trumpet. Playing the trumpet took time and discipline. I had some natural talent, but not enough to hide my lack of ability. My trumpet teacher was a man of discipline, and there was no doubt he had talent. What stood to me was his work ethic. He had to be one of the hardest working mentors that I had the privilege of working with.

One afternoon, I was in his office getting ready for my weekly trumpet lesson. As I was preparing, my eyes scanned the room and saw that there were quotes all over his office. My eyes rested on one quote that forever changed my thinking about my playing. It was a quote from my high school basketball coach Tim Notke that would become popular through professional athletes Kevin Durant and Tim Tebow:

“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”

Hard work trumps talent. The key to success is not found in your talent or ability. Talent and ability are necessary, but they are not the primary factors. They are supporting roles in the story you are writing.

Ultimately, hard work is the key to your success. A good work ethic creates the momentum that propels you forward towards your goals.

Motivation Is Not the Answer

How many times have you seen someone go to a conference, get inspired, and then come home and do nothing?

If motivation were the answer, the world would have transformed hundreds of times over. Yet, when we look out our doors or turn on the news, we do not see a utopian society.

We have thousands of people who become inspired but lack the work ethic to apply anything they have learned. Time and time again frustration creeps in. We are so motivated and inspired by what we see but fail to put in place the things that would change our lives.

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Frustration happens when the gap between what you expect to be true and what is true gets bigger. Motivation tends to create an expectation that is not rooted in reality. We want to take on the world but cannot get off Netflix long enough to do so.

Motivation is not the answer, but working hard is. Good habits and routines that produce success are the byproducts of a strong work ethic. The habits and routines we create and follow are the foundation on which we build a winning life.

How to Work Hard by Working Smarter

Here are 4 routines that will help you learn how to work hard and achieve your short term and long term goals.

1. Define What a Win Looks Like

In football, a player that crosses into the end zone gain points. In soccer, a player kicks the ball into the net to score. Hockey, lacrosse, and basketball are all the same. The player takes the object and moves it into the designated area to gain points. The team with the most points wins the game.

Why is it that we can define what a win looks like in sports, but we fail to do so in our leadership, our businesses, or our homes?

Learning how to work hard without setting a target is futile. It is insanity to work hard without having a clear direction to place your energy. I would argue that defining a win is one of the most important routines that a leader can have. Defining a win separates superficial activity from meaningful activity.

When I define a win, I know the goal line I have to cross[1]. Knowing where the goal line is informs me of the activity I have to engage in to cross it. Without a clear direction, I am spinning my wheels hoping that I will get to a destination I haven’t defined. It is like asking a GPS for directions but failing to input the destination.

4 Steps to Define a Win
  • Know the outcome you desire.
  • Declare the outcome in specific, meaningful terms.
  • Write the outcome down.
  • Set your activity list to only do that which will complete your goals.

Let me give you an example. 15 years ago, I started speaking professionally. As a young and naïve speaker, I thought winning meant that I had to get a reaction from the audience. If they cheered, smiled, or cried, I considered myself a winner. The problem was my lack of understanding of what a win looked like. As a seasoned speaker, my wins look different.

As of today, when I speak, I am not looking for any emotional reactions from the audience. I win if, and only if, I clearly communicated my point so that anyone hearing the talk can take it and apply it to their lives that day. That is how I define a win when I speak now.

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Create a habit of declaring a win. When you do, you will see your productivity soar and your encouragement increase. Pairing a hard work ethic with wise decisions creates victory. Stop being a mouse on a wheel that goes nowhere, and start being the captain of your fleet.

2. Evaluate Your Activity

Not all activity is equal. There are things you must do, things you need to do, and things we can either give away or delete. The greatest challenge of a leader is understanding the difference. Understanding what activity is busywork and what activity is mission work is pivotal.

Not only do we need to learn how to evaluate our activity, but we must make this a core routine in our arsenal of success. Stop working so hard on everything and start learning how to work hard on the right things.

Not every activity will move the needle forward for you. In fact, you were never meant to do everything yourself! Once we stop trying to be a martyr in our leadership, we can start looking at how to take things off our plates through delegation.

Based on the Eisenhower box, there are 4 things that we look at when deciding on which activities are important:

  • Do now
  • Plan to do it later
  • Delegate to someone else
  • Delete it

Powerful questions are the way you discover if the activity is right or not:

  • Does this activity move me towards or away from my goals?
  • Do I have to do this activity or can I give this activity away to someone else?
  • Does this activity have to be now right now or can it be scheduled for later dates?
  • Does this activity have to be done at all?

Evaluating the type of activity you engage in should be a routine that you do daily. Learning how to work hard should create progress. Having a system of evaluation and a routine to do it will help.

3. Prioritize Your Calendar

If you were to show me your calendar, I could show you why you are not further along. When you lack the routine of placing things on your calendar, two things happen.

First, what does not make it on your calendar does not get done.

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It is a simple truth that is often overlooked. Your calendar contains the power to change your life. Yet, we don’t use our calendars to their fullest potential.

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” -John C. Maxwell

Also, if you don’t mark you activities on your calendar, you are leaving it open to other’s priorities.

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” -Stephen Covey

Having a routine in your life where you place things on your calendar is pivotal to your success. This is not a routine one should overlook.

It’s time to take your leadership and business to the next level. It’s time to start putting your daily routines on your calendar, along with your priorities.

4. Reflect on Your Day and Plan the Next

We are all about the morning routine. Whatever that looks like for you, there should be a routine in the morning that sets you up for success.

Hard work starts when your feet hit the ground in the morning. Creating the habit of winning starts with the first thing you accomplish that morning. If you win your morning, you will win your day.

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Best Morning Routine to Prepare to Work Hard

    But how often have you heard people talk about an evening routine? Tomorrow is won the day before it happens. When you fail to plan your day, you may put your effort toward in the wrong things. Route replaces routine. Indecision replaces decisiveness. Losses replace wins. The discouragement will deflate your momentum and increases the chances of procrastination. That is why we set our schedule the night before.

    “Every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought.” -Sun Tzu

    Working hard doesn’t have to be hard work. It shouldn’t take much out of you learn how to work hard as long as you work smart. Having a time where you reflect on the day and set your priorities is the difference-maker.

    Use these questions to reflect on your day:

    • What went well?
    • What didn’t go well?
    • What can I change?
    • What do I need to start doing?
    • What do I need to stop doing?

    The Bottom Line

    Navigating through life is hard work. Yet, the work doesn’t have to be hard when you work smarter. When you create routines that support your mission, you create wins. Working hard, the smart way will tip the balance in our favor.

    Boxing legend Joe Frazier said:

    “Champions aren’t made in the ring; they are merely recognized there.”

    Champions put in the hard work behind the scenes. The world recognized them as a champion when they saw the results of the hard work. Right now, you are doing the work of creating a champion in yourself.

    That work is setting your routines in order because you now know that success flows from your daily routines. If you are not experiencing the success you desire, then it is time to change things up.

    More on Creating Healthy Routines

    Featured photo credit: Zan via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] The Balance Careers: Interview Question: “How Do You Define Success?”

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