Make Your Morning Routine a Success
I recently came across Hal Elrod’s The Miracle Morning and absolutely loved the concept. The full title – its descriptive nature I find very appealing – is: The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM). I have been intrigued by morning routines ever since I began listening to Tim Ferriss’ podcast. The morning routines of top performers is one of his recurring themes and although I’ve taken bits and pieces and applied them to my own morning routine, I never really put it all together.
I’ll give you a brief summary of Elrod’s book, but I highly recommend picking up a copy for yourself. And as much as I love audiobooks, I’d advise getting the physical book (or Kindle version) because you’ll want to skip around and go back to sections. Elrod begins with his personal story, and I’ll let you read about it, but he essentially decides to build a morning routine that incorporates all of the highest-leverage practices, rather than just a few. He uses the acronym “S.A.V.E.R.S.” which stands for Silence, Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading, Scribing (which he admits is kind of awkward and should really just be “writing” but that didn’t fit into the acronym). The entire routine takes an hour and although it can be slightly modified, it takes on this general format:
- Silence – Beginning with calm and clarity to help you stay focused on what’s important
- Affirmations – Positive self-talk to help you accomplish what you want to accomplish and become who you want to become
- Visualization – Using your imagination to create mental pictures of specific outcomes occurring in your life
- Exercise – This doesn’t have to be a hardcore workout, but anything to get your blood flowing; Elrod even talks about fitting in a workout in as little as 60 seconds
- Reading – Read anything that could help you grow personally or professionally (He mentions The Millionaire Fastlane by MJ DeMarco, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker, and Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey)
- Scribing – Could be journaling, writing blog posts, working on a long-form book
Immediately after finishing the book (which I couldn’t put down and finished in one night), I told my wife that I needed to solidify my morning routine and make it more consistent. By now she’s used to hearing about my new ideas that come about almost daily from some podcast, book, or blog. (My wife is a doer and I’m a thinker. I’m trying to become more like her. In fact, if it weren’t for her, this blog would never have come to fruition. But I digress.) She encouraged me, but also reminded me, that we have three kids and I should be realistic about what I can accomplish in the morning. I assured her that the one hour that was required to be set aside was totally doable.
As is usually the case, my wife was right.
I set my alarm for 4:30 (dumb idea), planned to feed the girls at 5:30 (which is normally when they wake up for a bottle), and then be ready when my son woke up between 6:30 and 7:00. Well, I was slow to get moving and didn’t start the routine until 4:45, the girls decided they wanted to get up at 5:00 instead of waiting for me to feed them at 5:30 (Rude, I know.), and before I knew it, my Miracle Morning had been derailed. I’m not a great planner, but when I do plan something, I have a hard time being flexible. When things don’t go according to my plan, I get frustrated. So I decided to try again the next day. And the next day. And it just didn’t go according to plan. Fitting the millennial stereotype, when I didn’t get my instant gratification, I decided to quit. I had convinced myself that it just wouldn’t work for my schedule.
But I couldn’t shake the idea, and decided to try it a few weeks later. A few things had changed: The girls were waking up a little more regularly. We started using a sleep training alarm clock with Hudson, which was a complete game changer and something that was so huge for us that I’ll probably write a full post about it (I was VERY skeptical, but now I’m 100% bought in), and my wife had talked me into trying to be a little more flexible. So here is my Miracle Morning that I’ve developed and will continue to refine. The key for us dads is to modify it to make it work for you. Only have 30 minutes? Condense it. Is it chunked up? Figure out where each practice should go. Personally, I overlap some of my practices to make it work for me.
5:00 am – My alarm goes off.
On an ideal morning, the girls are still sleeping and I spend the first 10 minutes waking up: brush teeth, drink a glass of water and my morning drink (apple cider vinegar, turmeric, cayenne pepper, pink Himalayan salt). The key here is that this is an ideal morning, but sometimes the girls are ready to eat earlier than I’ve planned, so I try to be flexible.
5:10 am – Feed the twins and do Silence, Affirmations, and Visualization (30-45 minutes)
The bottle routine with the twins allows me enough time to do Silence, Affirmations, and Visualization simultaneously.
Silence (10 minutes) – Elrod explains in the book that this doesn’t have to be complete and literal silence. Sometimes I like to listen to David Platt’s daily “Pray the Word” podcast (3-5 minutes) and then spend 5 minutes in prayer and meditation. Other days I will spend 10 minutes in literal silence.
Affirmations (10 minutes) – I struggled with this part at first, but Elrod’s examples from the book were helpful. I will spend 10 minutes reading through affirmations that include my life purpose, my faith, financial goals, who I want to become as a dad and husband, as well as others. The book does a great job of helping form these affirmations.
Visualization (10 minutes) – I wasn’t sure about this one in the beginning, but I just went for it. I actually created Google Slides that I could swipe through while feeding a baby (nerdy, I know). Each slide has pictures and a phrase, and I spend about a minute on each slide.
5:50 am – Exercise (Running) (10-40 minutes)
I’ve been a runner for a few years now after initially being drawn to the simplicity of it. There’s just something about doing a single activity for a long period of time that is very therapeutic. For this portion of my morning routine, I actually let time dictate how far I run. Starting at 5:50, I usually have time for three miles, but if the girls eat earlier I’ll go further, and if I get started after 5:50 I might just go two miles. And if I’m really pressed for time or if the weather is bad, I will just do something simple like push-ups, jumping jacks, or an ab workout to get my body moving. During this time, I like to think about anything that stuck out to me during my S.A.V. time and just ruminate on that while I run.
6:20 – Reading and Scribing (20 minutes)
Reading (10 minutes) – I’m a big fan of audiobooks, so I’ll usually listen to one in the kitchen while I recover from the run and do things like get the coffee ready and make sure my work bag is ready to go.
Scribing (10 minutes) – This is the one that I’m the worst at, partly because I run out of time and have to start getting ready and partly because I don’t have a strong writing routine. I don’t like to write for the blog because 10 minutes doesn’t allow me enough time. I’d like to get into writing a few thank you notes and notes of encouragement during this time, but I just haven’t done it yet.
6:40 – Shower and get ready
7:00 – Get toddler ready for the day
The “ball turns green” in Hudson’s room (see above) so I’m there to get him out of bed and get him ready for the day.
As a dad, there are a lot of variables, and the key is just to do the best you can, take advantage of the times that the kids are aligning with your schedule, and most importantly, give yourself grace when things don’t go as planned! There are mornings when the girls wake up to eat at 4:00, sometimes 3:00, and I just go back to sleep for as long as I can. On those days, I try to squeeze in a mini-version of my morning routine by picking one or two practices.
What is your morning routine? What would you like to start incorporating? Let me know in the comments below!
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