Mornings are hard for lots of people. These are the folks, who steer clear of early meetings, or at least until they down a few cups of coffee and are ready to face the day.
So out of respect for those who suffer from morning misery, but get up anyway, I will speak quietly. But hear me out -- I believe that how you start your morning sets the tone for the rest of the day.
That is why I get up at 5:40 a.m. most weekdays. I start out with a healthy breakfast - a banana and a protein bar or cereal. While I eat, I quickly review what I need to accomplish that day. The food gives me energy for my morning workout, and the review gives me a mental model of what a successful day will look like. That is my morning ritual, and it serves me well.
If you want a happier and more productive start, adopting your own morning ritual may help you ease into the day. Researchers have found that simple rituals can be effective at increasing confidence and alleviating anxiety.
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Here is a menu of morning rituals for you to sample and a few well-known, wildly successful folks, who enjoy them as well.
1. Rise early.
A study found that people who are successful in business are often early risers. If you set your alarm for an early wake-up time, you can start the day on your own terms - before everyone else makes their demands. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright rose at 4 a.m., while AOL CEO Tim Armstrong wakes up at 5 a.m. to read and exercise before tackling emails.
2. Enjoy breakfast.
Rather than dashing out of the house with coffee in hand or skipping breakfast altogether, spend a few minutes enjoying that first meal. Dilbert Creator Scott Adams enjoys a nutrition bar and coffee, weatherman Al Roker sips a protein smoothie, while Margaret Thatcher was known to enjoy coffee and half a grapefruit each morning. Eating the same thing each day can make this habit an easy commitment.
3. Make a plan.
Steve Jobs started each day by looking in the mirror and asking, ”If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do with my day?” If he answered “no” too often, that was a sign that something needed to change. His morning ritual speaks to the importance of having a strategy and making each day matter. While you do not have to write down your every move, a daily plan gives you a sense of direction and accomplishment when you knock out the day's goals.
4. Get active.
Morning is a not only a great time to exercise before you can procrastinate, but it can lift your mood and help you manage stress. Start off with yoga, a run or a morning bike ride (my personal favorite). Former U.S. Secretary of State Condeleeza Rice starts her day with a 4:30 a.m. cardio workout on the treadmill or elliptical, while Tumblr Founder Tim Karp walks to his Manhattan office each day.
5. Practice gratitude.
Here is a great ritual to add to your morning routine - spend a few minutes being thankful. Oprah Winfrey takes time to appreciates the birds singing and the sun coming up. Billionaire John Paul DeJoria spends five minutes simply being present, appreciating what he has and being thankful for life. Every morning Actor Will Arnett makes a list of 10 things he is grateful for, starting with his kids.
You do not have to set a 4 a.m. alarm to benefit from a positive morning ritual, but it certainly helps. Start by setting your intention before digging into work for a happier, more productive day. Make time for yourself.
You may not ever become a true morning person. But with the help of a morning ritual, you can get more out of each day.