By Jared Gold, @jgold242
It's kind of funny that most of us enjoy life -- but hate waking up. Seems contradictory.
I'm no stranger to thinking that waking up sucks. In fact, I felt that way for 25 years of my life (hint: I've only enjoyed mornings the past ~7 months of my existence on this earth).
After much reading and trying new things, I figured out a routine that works for me. Everyone has at least one "ritual" - and my mornings would definitely fall under that category. Very methodical and a bit bizarre, but consistent nonetheless. I'm sharing it because it's been life-changing for me personally and hopefully will help others start their day off well.
Step 1: Going to bed at a reasonable hour.
I have an alarm on my phone set for 9 p.m. to drop everything, have some of my Yogi bedtime tea (am I secretly an elderly man?!), brush my teeth, reflect on the day, and go to sleep. I'm almost always asleep by 10 p.m. With my sleep mask on and after taking a pill of melatonin, of course. Yup, I'm 25, but should probably be in a retirement home. I've fortunately learned that after some experimentation that my body functions equally as well after 7 hours of sleep as with 8.
Step 2: The act of waking up.
Welp, here it is. The absolute hardest part of it all. The good news is that if you went to bed early and had plenty of high-quality sleep, this isn't the worst.
My alarm is set for 5 a.m. via an alarm clock app called Capsule.fm. It has a slight AI feeling with futuristic voices - so it feels like an alarm clock that Tony Stark would have. It's also linked to my Soundcloud so that I can wake up to my favorite music automatically. Well worth the $2.
I focus on small successes at first - like propping myself up in bed. Boom, step 1. Step 2 is turning my body and putting my feet on the floor. Now the rest is infinitely easier.
However, I more often than not require this second alarm five minutes later...reminding me that I need to wake up and go exercise, despite how I "feel." Don't listen to your feelings in the morning. You'll try to rationalize more sleep and hate yourself if you actually succumb to that. The more profanity in the morning to remind yourself of this, the better. These are actually my alarms:
Step 3: Going to the gym.
Just do this. That's all there is to it. I recommend taking a pre-workout powder and having a few slices of bread beforehand. You'll feel fantastic when it's done. You'll get more blood flowing to your brain, and ideas will just come to you. They may be awful, or they may be fantastic.
Step 4: Shower (obviously).
The caveat here: I shower in complete darkness (except I have a small nightlight in my bathroom) and with music going. It feels extra fantastic. An interesting alternative worth testing is to have some sort of ambient background sound to create a meditative environment (if you're feeling stressed).
Step 5: Breakfast.
I make three eggs every morning. Eating breakfast is essential - and it doesn't count if it's a fried breakfast sandwich or a muffin loaded with simple carbs. At around 10 a.m., you'll be hurting. Don't buy breakfast at the local Starbucks or bakery.
*How to make delicious scrambled eggs, as an FYI: Beat three eggs in a bowl with a fork, add a decent splash of 2% milk, and mix. Put into warm pan (I set it on a '3' out of '10' on the burner), wait until eggs start to solidify after 3-4 minutes, mix a bit in pan, then plate and add shredded cheese, salt, pepper, and green onions. Even if you're a novice, you'll master it within a week.
Step 6: Clean up.
I clean my dishes, make my bed, and tidy up my place. A clean home will lessen your mental clutter. And when you come up and things look in order, that will let you relax. If you live in squalor, you'll feel cluttered and less at ease.
*Side note - while making breakfast and cleaning, I'm usually listening to a Podcast. I'd recommend the Podcast app Overcast (free). Some of my favorites include The Tim Ferriss Experiment and The EntreLeadership Podcast.
Step 7: Journal.
I follow the 5-minute journal model (above) - but just in my own notebook. For five minutes in the morning, I write down:
- Opportunities that I'm grateful for
- What would make today great
- Affirmations (statements that confirm who I know I am)
*And when I'm about to go to sleep, I write down three amazing things that happened that day and how I could've made the day better. The ideal feeling is having such a great day that you gave it your all, and have a bit of trouble thinking about how the day could have been better.
Then I make the 20-minute walk to work (though I'm not good with the cold weather, so for the next few months, I'm splitting an Uber with a co-worker; well worth the cost).
Step 8: Crush the day.
Look at you. You've now accomplished a ton already, and you still have a good ~12 hours before you go to sleep again. You're probably feeling refreshed and awake. You have a little extra bounce in your step. You can be proud of how deliberately you've executed your plans and can keep riding the wave of awesomeness throughout the day.
Everyone has their own morning routine. I believe that whatever yours is, it needs to become automatic and effortless - to energize you and clear your head simultaneously. It's about setting yourself up with a bunch of small wins at the start of the day so that you can continue to build positive momentum the second you get down to real work.
What helps you be at your best in the morning? Please comment below - I would love to hear it.