The Morning Routine

I have only just begun grasping the awesomeness that is The Morning Routine.

Honestly, I’ve never been much of a morning person at all. And in fact, it’s probably something that has always been on my to-do list for the longest time that I never quite managed to convert into a habit. Perhaps once in a few months I would successfully manage to wake up earlier in order to try to pack more things in my off day but then very quickly I would revert back to status quo of sleeping in/snoozing on my alarm clock because I felt that I enjoyed those moments of lounging in bed a lot more than the semi-groggy state I would be in when I woke up extra early.

This past week however, I’m pretty amazed at how much of a Morning Convert I think I have become. It all started after I happened to listen to this podcast featuring an interview (Why Discipline Equals Freedom) with Jocko Willick (a former U.S Navy SEAL commander who has been a guest on Tim Ferriss’ podcast show and whose latest book out is the very mind-grabbing Discipline Equals Freedom: A Field Guide) in which he talks about how discipline is crucial to living a good life. He talks about how many people ask him how they can start to become more disciplined in their lives. And to that, he always says the key to getting discipline in your life is waking up early. It was funny because along with the sinking feeling in my tummy the first time I heard that, it was obvious the audience felt the same way too. After an initial pause during which the interviewer himself looked rather resigned and rueful, Jonko went on to talk about why he feels waking up early is the key to getting things done. (Around 17:13 in the interview.)

“You can get so much done. You are so much more productive… you wake up in the morning and there’s just quiet. I do things that I know are a priority for my life, but maybe they’re not a priority for that day.”

That statement was something that switched the lightbulb on in my head for sure.

Do things in the morning that are a priority for life, but not necessarily a priority for the day.

Isn’t it so true that if we leave something like exercise to the evening (which is what I always used to do), it’s subject then to whether or not you can finish up other things that you have deemed to be the priority for the day. It’s also subject to your energy levels which can vary so much based on what happens to you… plus the worst thing is that it’s subject to your willpower which tends to become like an overstretched elastic band throughout the day, till by night time there’s not much strength left in the recoil anymore. And there’s something to be said about the fact that yes, you can enjoy yourself for those few moments in bed when you sleep in… but it’s not the same as feeling pretty darn awesome about yourself knowing that you have managed to tick off something on your priority list for life early in the morning with the rest of the day still available for the win.

So this past week I tried creating a morning routine for myself by incorporating some of Tim Ferriss’ suggestions which include 2 types of morning journaling – a free-flow one to set the priorities for the day, as well as a Gratitude one (of which the 5 minute journal is the one he uses), a short period of Meditation (I started out with a 10 minute one that was part of a Headspace app Starter’s series), a short 3 minute or so warm-up/stretching Radio Taiso exercise and 25 minutes of T25 exercise. And believe it or not, every time I managed to finish up the 25 minutes of exercise and tick that off my morning list, I was absolutely pumped. And it definitely gave a lighter sense of being throughout the day, knowing that there were no big goals that I had to tick off in the evening or worry about forgetting. I’d already gotten it out of the way.

It’s interesting how figuring out the sequence of my morning routine has been quite a process of trial and error for me. Initially I thought I would start with journalling and drinking some tea to calm the mind and set the tone for a good morning. But then there was one day in which I ended up spending a longer than expected time journaling my thoughts and ended up having lesser time than expected for exercise which tend flowed over to breakfast time with D. So then I’ve started trying to exercise first thing in the morning before my mind can get the better of me and surprisingly enough, with the workout done, some sweat flowing down my face and a sense of mini achievement coursing through my blood, my mind’s already cheerful and pumped for the next task to come. I think I’ve always been of the proponent that the mind is the most powerful and it’s always going to be mind over matter. But with this experience, I’m starting to think that there is a lot more to the concept of making use of the body to influence the mind’s state. Sometimes instead of thinking one’s way to a better mood, doing can be a better course. (I’m reminded of how Tony Robbin’s likes to teach his audience to change their mind’s emotional state through body movements. Initially when I first heard it I was like…nahh…too tired to do that! lol. But now it’s something I might resort to to reset the mind and up my mood really quickly.)

It’s exciting though, thinking about the potential of these few precious golden hours of the morning. It’s all about planning and knowing my priorities for life. And then if there is anything that I think I want to do more of as my long term priority for life, I just have to incorporate it into my morning schedule. And if there is more, I probably have to wake up earlier and to do that, I need to sleep earlier. Sounds simple enough of course but from experience, so hard to do. Not impossible though. 😉 I’ve come to realise that a big part of my aversion to waking earlier has been illogically emotional. I used to think, ugh, isn’t it hard on the body waking up so early? But in the end, it’s only hard if you don’t sleep early and get enough sleep. There’s a lot of promise and potential in these hours before most of the regular world gets up and I’m excited to continue trying that out.

One thing that I’ve loved in this new morning routine is the 5 minute journal Tim Ferriss recommends and uses, that really makes for a heart-warming period early in the morning. I haven’t bought the actual journal yet but am seriously considering getting it for some friends who might appreciate this exercise.

The basic questions that we are supposed to ask ourselves are:

I am grateful for…

What would make today great?

Daily affirmations. I am…

3 amazing things that happened today…

How could I have made today better?

I have been doing the first 3 in the morning and the last 2 at night before going to bed and through my answers, I can actually see some patterns forming that give me a clue about my own priorities and feelings about what makes my day (and hence life) beautiful. Tim says he uses his 5 minute journals when he’s reflecting about his priorities for the new year etc and when he wants to figure out for himself what he should do more of to have good days (e.g. less coffee for him). It’s a pretty great idea to use that journal as a way of learning more about yourself.

2 of his daily affirmations which I really love and feel very strongly about (watch this video:Tim Ferriss x Intelligent Change Q&A Webinar ) are:

I am…
“Capable of handling anything that comes”
“Complete. I have all that I need.”

Aren’t those statements absolutely true in the end?

Here’s to a great week ahead with early mornings, hopefully~!



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