Own the Morning

woman expressing freedom on a summer evening outdoors with her arms outstretched

Mom was right:  the way you start is the way you finish. The truism applies to your daily routine. If you start your morning with strong and productive habits, you’re far likelier to have a successful and productive day all the way through quitting time.

Let’s review some of the habits and practices guaranteed to start you off on the right foot each day and we will even share secrets of some of America’s most successful business leaders.

  • Get up early. Well, ‘doh,’ you may be thinking. But what this means is to get up far earlier than you need to. It’s pretty hard to start your day serenely and in control when you oversleep and are rushed. Some business leaders recommend rising at 5 a.m., others a minimum of two hours before you need to be at your first appointment.
  • Read words of inspiration. Instead of flipping on the TV – because really, what’s going to be inspirational on network news? – or checking your email, take 10-15 minutes first thing and read something that will inspire you to be your very best, whether it’s calming and spiritual or work that fires you up to take on the competition.
  • Give gratitude. The great songwriter Johnny Mercer wrote a song called “Accentuate the Positive” that is likely best known for being sung in the Disney classic movie, “Jungle Book. Ballou the Bear knew what he was singing of: we receive in return what we focus on, so starting every day thinking about all the things we can be thankful for, be it our families, our houses, or our work, immediately puts us in a space in which we can have a positive day. The method doesn’t really matter – for instance, you can write three things for which you are grateful or you can meditate on them.
  • Eat a good breakfast. You really can’t expect to steam through the day if you don’t fuel your machine. Billionaire investor and philanthropist Warren Buffet often hits McDonald’s but self-empowerment guru Tony Robbins opts for a less traditional, but healthier, breakfast of salad and fish. There’s probably a middle ground here, but you won’t go wrong with a protein source and some carbohydrates. (Eggs and toast, anyone?)
  • Get moving. The last thing you may feel like first thing in the morning is heading to the gym, but there’s ample research to show exercise is one of the best ways to start any day. Powerful CEOs like Oprah Winfrey, Richard Branson of the Virgin Group, Robbins, and even 87-year-old Buffet swear early workouts are part of the success strategies. Exercise increases endorphins, which make you feel good, and working out early means conflicts are unlikely to arise and interfere, as can be the case later in the day.

Oh, and for one final tip that would make your mother proud – make your bed. No less than Navy SEAL commander, Admiral William McRaven, explains it’s a simple way to feel a sense of accomplishment. Like exercise, and gratitude, and a healthy breakfast, it sets the tone for the rest of your day.

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