In the 10 or so years that I’ve been in workplace health I’ve completed close to 20,000 health consultations.

That’s a pretty large sample size of people to work from, and there are certain patterns that have emerged amongst them.

Some of them are simple, like healthy people eat more vegetables and drink more water, and some are more complex, like mentally resilient people are happier and tend to see the world in a more realistic and positive way (which seems like a contradiction in terms but it’s not).

But the most interesting pattern I’ve seen is that the most successful people I’ve consulted with, whether that be successful in health, business, changing their lives for the better, or any other metric you use to define it, seem to have one thing in common, they take charge of their mornings.

The morning is a magical time. It’s the start of a new day. Those precious few hours (or minutes) that belong only to you. The emails haven’t started yet, the world’s issues are seemingly still at bay, and your day has the potential to be anything it wants.

It’s the time of day that we have the most control over, and the better we can start, the better we will continue.

It’s no surprise then that the people who are the most successful in their days and in their lives are the ones who get the most out of their mornings.

When I start a consultation it’s typically with a variant of the prompt, ‘Tell me about your morning’.

Most people have a very vague idea of what they do, but it usually begins with a snoozed alarm and a scroll through social media before they drag themselves out of bed at the last minute and rush to get everything done.

If that sounds familiar then you’re in the vast majority.

It’s only the most successful people I speak with that have a set routine from which they rarely waver.

When asked ‘What do you do each morning?’ they have a definitive list of items and all of them are geared towards making their day the best it can be.

Things like exercise, meditation, practicing gratitude, reading, prepping meals, writing to-do lists, all different, but all positive.

So, what is the best morning routine?

Impossible to answer as they’re all so different.

A better question would be ‘What’s your best morning routine?’

Therein lies the challenge and the ultimate reward.

Building your morning routine

Start by asking yourself how you spend your mornings.

Are you proactive or reactive? I.e. do you make things happen by choice or allow them to happen to you by chance?

For people with children, it’s much harder to be proactive, because kids couldn’t care less about your plans, but so much more important.

Children thrive on routine and although it’s difficult to implement, the payoff is huge.

From there, just follow these steps to build your best morning routine.

  1. What do you want to get out of your day?
    Figuring out what you want is the hardest part.Do you want to be more productive? Be fit? Be organised? Manage your mind? In order to get the things you want, you have to do what it takes to get them, so first, figure out what it is you want and go from there.
  2. What has to be in your morning routine in order to get it?
    This is the easy part. What do you need to do in order to get the things you want? Want to be more productive? Work on your top priority first thing in the morning. Want to manage your mind? Practice mindfulness. Want to be fit? Exercise. There’s a direct causal relationship between what you want and how you get it, you just need to figure out what that is and plan it in.
  3.  What time do you have to get up to have that in your morning routine?
    Once you know the things you have to do, you have to give yourself time to do them. Sleeping in is great, and can be extremely useful sometimes, but it should be the exception, not the rule. Figure out how long your morning routine will take and then wake up with enough time to do it all.
  4. What time do you have to go to bed to get up at that time?
    Getting enough sleep is crucial, and you shouldn’t sacrifice your much needed rest if you can help it. You already know what time you need to get up, so now just work backwards and set a bedtime that allows you to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
  5. What do you have to do to allow you to get to bed at that time?
    This is the tough part. Getting to bed on time is something most of us struggle with, but it doesn’t need to be. Take a look at your night time routine and see where you might be able to improve it to allow you to get to bed at a consistent and reasonable time. Hint: setting up a morning routine will most likely help with that.

The morning is your time to be who you want to be and do the things you want to do.

If you set it up right, then no matter what life throws at you the rest of the day, you can face it with a smile and know that it doesn’t matter because you’ve already crushed it today.

Morning routine cheat sheet

Struggling to find your best morning routine? Ok, here’s a 20 minute one to get you started.

Wake up and immediately have a big drink of water (preferably cold).

This will help to hydrate you after a long night of losing water in your sleep, help you feel more alert, and act as an initial positive habit that you can use to stack subsequent habits onto.

Close your eyes and think of 3 things you’re grateful for.

Practicing gratitude will help to give you perspective and can literally restructure your brain to have a more positive bias.

Meditate for 5 minutes.

The benefits of meditation are too numerous to mention here but suffice it to say that regular meditation will change your life. Get up, go to a different room, sit quietly with your eyes closed and focus on your breathing for 5 minutes. Congratulations, you just meditated!

Do 10 minutes of exercise.

Just get your body moving and your heart pumping in any way you like. You can jog, stretch, do bodyweight exercises in your living room, put on a Jane Fonda VHS workout, anything you like, just make sure you move and move well.

Your morning is your time, so make sure you use it wisely and crush your day before most other people’s have even started.

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