4 Years Later, Here’s The Best Morning Routine For Achieving Your Goals

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4 Years Later, Here’s The Best Morning Routine For Achieving Your Goals

Learn the selfish, not-so-obvious secrets that will help you become a morning person & achieve goals before 7am.


Introduction

A consistent morning routine has been the single most important strategy that has helped me reach goals since 2014. Without it, I wouldn’t have built a business, published a book, or read about 50 other books. This blog would cease to exist without my morning routine. Getting up early has literally changed my life.

If you can’t tell, I believe in the power of a morning routine. It’s become my biggest advantage for achieving more.

But I also think it’s one of the most obnoxious topics in the world of personal development.

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A Marketer’s Dream

Morning routines have become popular in part because they work, but mostly, because they are a marketer’s dream.

Personal development concepts are typically abstract. The consumer has to hope they are implementing the strategy or doing the lesson correctly.

Morning routines are marketed in direct contrast to that.They are pitched as concrete, step-by-step solutions to becoming more productive and accomplished humans.

Scour the internet, and you’ll find myriad listicles, “secrets”, “hacks”, and cliche phrases associated with perfecting the first few hours of your day.

See the results of Googling “best morning routine” below:

As you can see, people eat up the “secrets” of an effective morning routine. There are no secrets here- only empirical advice, resources, and a healthy dose of common sense.

The very first article I wrote for Goalcast that did well was titled, “The Advantage of Being Selfish In The Morning“. It did well enough that I was asked to published a sequel piece on evening routines, which got 7,000 shares. Goalcast hired me because of that article.

So while I’m ragging on how people market morning routines, I’ve benefited from using the popular “secrets” approach, too.

All That Said…

This guide is for people that want to make it to the top, whether that’s at work, in sport, or life. This means you aren’t afraid to do hard things. It means you constantly seek out advantages, even small ones. You believe that no matter what the strategy is, consistency is ultimately how you’ll get results.

I’m approaching this article with that mindset. I’ll detail why you should use a morning routine, strategies for making your morning routine work, my personal routine, and mistakes I’ve made these past 4 years that will save you time and frustration.

Hopefully, this guide offers you a little structure and tact for one of the best strategies for personal achievement out there: the morning routine. Enjoy!

100 Words On Why You Should Have A Morning Routine

If I don’t sell you right now on the power of morning routines, you’ll probably X out before we get into the weeds.

So here’s why you should have a morning routine, in 100 words:

When you commit to a morning routine, no one can take that time away from you. Use it to work towards goals, or as “me time”. It’s up to you.

It’s your opportunity to pack a bunch of positive habits into your daily life that will help the rest of your day go better.

It’s your opportunity to lose weight, build a business, or grow as a person. 

A morning routine is 2+ hours of the day that is yours to do with as you please.


Where I Started

Some quick context to get you started.

I was hired as a middle school PE teacher and moved to Denver in 2014. Year one of this arrangement was tricky, as the school could only afford to have me in the building part-time. My first paycheck was just under $1,200, so it was clear that a second job was necessary.

Most jobs I found didn’t line up with my teaching/coaching hours or pay that well. The hours between 6-11am were wide openso I considered everything I could do to make money in the morning.

It was right around this time that I noticed people were making money writing online.

Bingo. Well, sort of.

The Miracle Morning

The fall of 2014 was when (the first iteration of) The Coach K Show was born. I didn’t make any money from writing online for the first 8 months and anything worth writing home about for 2 years.

All of this is to say don’t take this guide as get-rich-quick advice.

But when I reflect back on 4 years of morning routines, the first year was the most fruitful. I forced myself to get up every day at 4am and write 2,000 words after doing my habits. I didn’t even take Sundays off. 8 months later, I published my first book.

The book didn’t break the bank, but it helped me develop a certain kind of discipline to achieve goals that I hadn’t known before. Getting up early became my secret weapon of sorts, and the discipline I’ve developed from doing it for 4 years continues to serve me today.

And I have to give credit to The Miracle Morning for helping me get started:

After reading The Miracle Morning, I followed the exact outline from the book for the 8 months it took to write my book. The suggestions Hal Elrod offers are a good place to start.

How To Design A Great Morning Routine

Here’s how to put your morning routine together, step-by-step.

What’s Your Goal?

The reason I included my story is simple: you have to have a good reason to enlist a morning routine that will stick. Initially, mine was to make money so I could pay bills.

Your reason will change over time, but without one, you’ll be back to telling people you aren’t a morning person within a few days.

Ironically, the only dead horse that gets beaten more than morning routines in the personal development world is starting with why, but it’s an important part of getting started.

Think about it- you’re essentially adding 2 more hours of productivity to your day. What do you plan to do with the time? Why does getting up early appeal to you or seem like a good idea?

Here are some ideas. You might use your morning routine to:

Any of these activities fit the bill for an effective morning routine. Pick the one that aligns with your goals.

3 Not-So-Obvious (Mindset) Keys For Your Morning Routine

#1. You have to be selfish with your routine.

Align your morning routine with what you want to achieve, and nothing else. There is a very real opportunity cost to getting up early- you could be sleeping, after all. Pick activities that feed you, fire you up, or move you in the direction you’d like to go.

Your morning routine shouldn’t be dedicated to answering emails or completing work for other people.

#2. Combine healthy habits with action.

There’s something inherently good about starting your day off with a few “wins”, enlisting habits that help get your mind right.

But don’t just be a consumer of personal development content before the real day starts. Do something that matters, too.

My advice is to combine the two. Pick a few healthy habits, then do some work that matters. This combination will set the tone for the rest of your day, and over the course of a week, give you plenty of positive things to focus on.

If you are planning a 2-hour morning routine, devote 15-20 minutes to your habits, and the rest to meaningful work.

Healthy Habits You Might Consider:

  • Meditation- see suggestions below.
  • Journaling- I use the Day One App, but good ol’ pen and paper never goes out of style.
  • Goal Review- a quick, informal glance at your goals to clarify where you’d like to head that day.
  • Reading- for all of you that say you never have time to read…found some!
  • Work- for me, writing is the “work”. For you, it’s whatever the longest chunk of your routine is, and should be packed with meaningful work. Replace writing with exercise, meal prepping, reading, spending time with family, etc.
  • Hydrating- you’ll be surprised by how much energy you have throughout the day if you hydrate right when you wake up.

All of these- besides your “work” block-  can be done in 5-10 minutes and will put your mind and body in a positive state as you start the day.

#3. Don’t sacrifice your health.

It will take your body a while to get used to getting up at 5am. We each get 100 credits a day to live our lives and work towards our goals. Until you adjust, the additional stress is bound to take away from other areas of your life. Accept it. Know it’s temporary.

Keep in mind that your morning routine is a lifestyle shift. Make sure it doesn’t become a 1:1 exchange to be unhealthy in other areas, especially sleep. Don’t forget how important it is to get enough sleep.

Research shows that human adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night. If you’re getting up at 4:30-5am, you must find a way to get to bed earlier.

My 2018 Morning Routine

4 years in, here is how I map out the first 2.5 hours of my day.

Before I Start:

  1. Hydration (32oz out of a Nalgene water bottle)
  2. Brush Teeth

Habit #1. Mindfulness Meditation- 12 minutes

4:20am-4:32am

Mindfulness meditation is the most powerful habit I’ve enlisted since starting with a morning routine. If you were going to enlist one habit, this is the one I would recommend.

Even at 4am, I am amazed that by the end of a 12-minute session how energized, focused and ready to work I am.

Resources:

Habit #2. Open-Ended Journaling- 5 minutes

4:32-4:37am

I hate journaling. Actually, the truth is that I hate writing anything down on paper. My handwriting is stuck in first grade, and my hand is unable to keep up with the pace of the thoughts in my head, so I end up writing down half-assed thoughts that make no sense later.

A few months ago, I made the switch to a journaling app. I like journaling now. Especially after a meditation session, it allows me to control the thoughts that swirl in my head right after waking up, and get them out before I start working.

I’m not big on guided journaling. I set a 5-minute timer, start writing what’s on my mind, and let my fingers and brain do the rest.

Resources:

Habit #3. Goal Review- 2 minutes

4:37-4:39am

I’m not sure if this is placebo or not, but taking a quick glance at my 2018 goals each morning just helps me focus. In my mind, it sets the sails of my morning in the right direction for the work I’m about to do.

I’d recommend keeping a sheet of your goals printed or some place easily accessible like Google Drive.

Resources:

Break

Boil water, make coffee/tea.

Resources:

Work- Writing- 2 hours

~5:00-7:00am

I don’t have much to say here because your work block will be different than mine.

In January 2018, I sold or published 20 articles that totaled 28,874 words. 95% of those words were written before 7am. Heck, it’s 6:12am right now as I write this.

For you, this time block should be whatever is meaningful to you. Go to the gym, write, read, or convince your significant other to get up with you and spend time with them.

Mistakes You Can Learn From

Get These 16 Tricks For Not Hitting The Snooze Button

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Heavy sleeper? Not a "morning person"? No problem. Make your morning routine "stick" with these 16 tricks to make sure you don't go back to sleep once the alarm goes off.

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Here are a few things I wish I figured out sooner about my morning routine.

#1. Ask what you need to fix, not what’s wrong with you.

If you suffer from high achiever syndrome, shutting off the alarm clock and going back to sleep will bother you when you first begin your morning routines. You’ll start questioning if you’re cut out for the early mornings, or if you’re just too lazy to make it work.

How do I know? Because this still happens to me now.

Sleeping in a few times while you adjust to a new schedule doesn’t make you a failure. It just means you need to reassess your strategy for getting up earlier.

Consider:

  • Did you get enough sleep the night before?
    • How should you adjust your evening schedule to make sure you get enough sleep?
  • Is your morning routine engaging and/or fun? Is it focused on you (is it selfish enough?)

#2. Start with mini-goals.

There’s plenty of contradictory research out there about how many consecutive days you must do something for it to become a habit. I won’t touch on that here.

Once you get used to the early morning, you can experiment with what you’ll do during your 2 hours. Don’t worry about 30-day goals or anything like that right now. Don’t worry about “stringing” together days or making this into a challenge (unless that motivates you).

First and foremost worry about tomorrow’s goal: to wake up early and do meaningful work. The rest will take care of itself.

You need to create good experiences for yourself early on to make the morning routine stick.

Things To Avoid:

  • Social Media– Stay off social media until you are done with the work you’ve committed to. No one is awake yet anyway. I use the SelfControl app to manage this. Just be careful, because if you blacklist a website, there is nothing you can do to unlock it until the timer runs out.
  • Getting up early with less than 6 hours of sleep–  I actually believe you’re better off shutting the alarm clock off and going back to sleep if you’ve slept less than 6 hours. Save the “extreme hustle” stuff for people that are impressed by that kind of thing. See the big picture. Practice healthy habits.

Resources


Thanks for reading my guide on crafting a great morning routine to help achieve your goals. You might also like:

Work

How I Made An Extra $4k In 43 Days Working Odd Jobs

Sport

How I Lost 16.5Lbs and Got Stronger with MASS By Pat Davidson

Life

The Best Meal Prep Guide On The Internet For Busy People

One Caffeine Addict’s Account of Quitting Coffee For 30 Days

How To Backpack Europe For 2 Months on $5k Or Less

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