To recap where we are and where we're going in this section on mindset mastery:
Chapter 1 - defined and understood what mindset is.
Chapter 2 - learned how to control our emotional states
In this chapter, we'll transition from theory to principles that we can put into action. In the coming chapters in this section, we'll cover some helpful mindsets and beliefs that will guide you through the other sections of this book which are more practical, how to build a six-figure business, chapters.
Remember that your mindset is the foundation that you'll build your successful business on. Don't skip these chapters or take them lightly, or you'll risk having an unsteady foundation full of cracks that won't be able to hold the business you want to build on top of it.
Now, let's talk about morning routines.
Don't just skip past that quote. Read it again if you need, really ponder it.
Our life is made up of days that are made up of moments. The consistent things that we do each day compound over time and create the life that we live.
Just as if you want to change your emotions you change the inputs of what you focus on, your physiology, and language; if you want better days, look at how they start.
It's easy for me to wake up early, I'm a morning person. But it's not just about the time of day, it's about the order of your day.
A morning routine is simply the handful of things that you do between the time you wake up and the time you start your day.
Now, there was a time that I didn't have a morning routine. I didn't understand how powerful they were, so I would sleep until the last minute (often silencing the alarm multiple times before that), slide out of bed, throw on a clean shirt (at least, one that I couldn't smell from across the room), and head out in the nick of time to avoid being late.
That would describe most of my high school and college experiences.
I even made the mistake once of signing up for a class in college that started at 7:00 am! What was I thinking?!
But, after learning the power of a personalized morning routine, I've since used my mornings to write books, workout & get in shape, or to just have time alone every day.
Only in the last two years or so that I realized the power a morning routine has in creating the life you want for yourself and your business.
I now see morning routines as a direct path to a handful of very clear outcomes, all which fall under the umbrella of starting my day off with momentum. It's a conscious routine that gets me to feel a specific way every morning to start off my day in the way I want to.
In this chapter, let's talk about a few emotions, or outcomes, that we can obtain through a morning routine.
I'll share what my current morning routine looks like at the end as well.
Some emotions or outcomes that you can achieve through a morning routine:
Done properly, the morning routine brings these emotions which provide the momentum to start your day.
Here are some ways you can achieve those emotions and outcomes in a morning routine:
Gratitude through prayer
Whether you believe in God or are religious or not, you can substitute prayer for any sort of gratitude practice.
I start off my mornings by waking up, leaving my bedroom, and heading to the living room with my water bottle, phone, and AirPods.
I kneel down at the couch and spend some time conversing with God. Most of the prayer is centered around gratitude - for my life, my family, my home, my friends, my experiences, my health, whatever comes to mind.
It's not a rote, repeated prayer. It's a conversation where I focus my thoughts around how much I have to be grateful for and sharing those thoughts with my creator.
If I feel the need for help or guidance, I'll also ask during that prayer, and wait to see - or even feel - if an answer comes.
I follow this up as much as possible with time spent reading in the scriptures, which is where I often receive the answers that I'm asking for.
Clarity through meditation
After listening to hundreds of podcasts where top performers in different fields were interviewed, and hearing that so many have a meditation practice, I started to meditate consistently a few years ago.
The most simple description of meditation is time spent allowing your brain to calm down and let everything just pass you by.
We all have so much on our minds at all times - we're creatives, after all - that it helps our minds to relax and rejuvenate if we just take 20 or 30 minutes to let it all go and find some peace and calm.
I use an app because the trigger of those specific sounds and having a guided meditation helps me to get to that place more quickly and easily.
I use the Oak meditation app, and have used Calm and Headspace in the past.
Meditation has become a non-negotiable part of my morning routine, and my current streak is years long. If I somehow miss it in the morning, I'll find time as early in the day as possible to do a meditation so that I keep that streak going.
Inspiration through journaling
In Julia Cameron's often recommended book The Artist's Way, she recommends a process she calls morning pages.
These are three, freehand, unedited pages of pure stream of consciousness. It's an opportunity for your brain to get everything out and make room for new ideas and inspiration to occur.
It's similar to what artists like Ed Sheeran and Neil Gaiman talk about, as shared in this thread:
(Especially check out the video in the thread of Ed Sheeran talking about the process of "clearing out the tap of [crappy] water so that the clean water can flow".)
If you're an artist who creates on a regular basis and ever finds yourself stuck or blocked, morning pages are the answer.
Beyond that, a journaling practice, where you write down what's on your mind, capture what happened during your day, and your hopes and dreams is a helpful practice in a similar way. It creates space for new thoughts and ideas and connections to occur.
Grab a notebook, or an app like Day One, and write away!
Energy through breathing and exercise
I don't have time in this book to expand on the benefits of exercise, so I'll leave that to the experts, but I do believe strongly that exercising at least three times a week is essential to maintain health and vitality.
Every creative should have something - running, biking, swimming, hiking, lifting weights - that they do to keep their body healthy and strong.
On days that I don't exercise, I make sure to take time to at least stretch and do some breathing exercises. Bringing in air, expanding the lungs, feeling my body, and getting moving are all important ways for me to wake up physically as well as mentally.
A helpful breathing exercise that I've used for a while now is to breathe in a 1:4:2 ratio.
For example, breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 16 seconds, exhale for 8 seconds.
Do this 10 times and you'll instantly feel more awake and alert.
Vision through priming
Priming is just what it sounds like, it's making my mind and body ready for action.
I use a YouTube video every morning that helps me prepare for the day ahead and visualize what I want to accomplish that day. It helps me focus and build excitement around the day ahead so that I can't wait but to get started.
If you find yourself starting your workday sluggish and unmotivated, priming is something I would look at adding to your morning routine.
Two other things you can incorporate into your morning routine:
If you are married or spend a lot of time around other people, it can be helpful to have at least 15 minutes in the morning to yourself. Make a cup of coffee or tea or hot chocolate (or my favorites, Crio Brü or MUD\WTR) and have some time to yourself to do whatever you want before others wake up.
Arguably the simplest, single thing you could do to start your day off better is to chug some water right when you wake up.
My wife and I both have one of these 40-ounce insulated water bottles that never leave our side, so it just sits there on the floor waiting for me to wake up.
I'll drink at least 8-10 oz before I even get all the way out of bed, and use it to kick off my morning routine.
Crafting your own morning routine
Your morning routine will require a personal journey of experimentation to land on what works best for you.
If you don't currently have a morning routine, start small. Pick the emotions or outcomes covered in this chapter that matter most to you, and start there, with just one or two. You can add more along the way.
If you have a morning routine that's working for you, consider being even more intentional about the outcomes that you're trying to get from that routine.
That will help you focus and get those outcomes even quicker and easier, and potentially allow for more practices to become part of your morning.
Don't stress over this. There's no right answer, there's no correct amount of time you need to spend. You won't be graded or judged by having a routine that looks completely different than mine.
I like having hours of time to myself each morning. If I get less than an hour I feel rushed and not in control of my day, so I tend to get up early (generally between 5:30 and 6:30 depending on how late I was up the night before) to allow for my whole morning routine, uninterrupted.
Others can get up, stretch, make a cup of coffee, and are ready to go.
Yours will be yours. Perfectly suited to you and your needs.
My current morning routine
I'm sharing mine here not as a measuring stick or for comparison, but for inspiration. Steal anything that you want, change it up, make it work for you if you need a jumping-off point.
6:00-6:30 am - Wake up (using a wake-up window created in the Sleep Cycle app), drink water, use the bathroom, brush my teeth)
15-20 minutes - Prayer, focused on gratitude
30 minutes - Scripture study
20 minutes - Meditation, using the Oak app.
20 minutes - Priming, using this video on YouTube.
30 minutes - Exercise, using the X3 bar at home.
20 minutes - shower & ready
20 minutes - make breakfast for my wife and kids
~9:00 am - start my workday, generally with a deep work session with Brain.fm as background music
I included all the way through to the workday so you can see how the morning routine flows into the beginning of work.
The outcomes are all present by the time I'm making breakfast for the family, and I'm in a great emotional state that - I believe, at least - helps my family with the start of their day. If I'm happy, they tend to default to happy as well.
There's a ton of privilege that I haven't addressed here. I have all of this time every day, uninterrupted. I have a wife that helps get the kids ready and take them to school. I work from home, so I don't have a commute.
Not everyone has the same situation, so please understand, again, that this isn't some standard you are going to be held to.
This is my experience, and I'm lucky and blessed and grateful because of it. If you are frustrated that you don't have the same amount of time or the same freedom in your circumstances, don't be.
Use what you learned in the last chapter to take control of your morning, your time, your day. It may not look the same, but you can absolutely take control more than you think you can.
Use your morning routine to generate momentum and the desired emotional state to start your day off in the way you want.
The compounding effect of doing that routine day after day leads to a very different destination after weeks, months, and years of having this daily practice.
In the next chapter, we'll cover a long-written-about principle for visualizing success in your life and business.