Hello again faithful readers, hope this holiday season finds you well.
As the New Year rapidly approaches, many people are starting to ramp up their New Year resolutions, planning to make big changes and take great strides in 2015.
But why wait until an arbitrary Thursday? Why act like everyone else who starts their “new life” on the 1st of the year?
Why not start today?
I was recently listening to a podcast on SmartPassiveIncome featuring guest Hal Elrod, a well-known keynote speaker and success coach with a crazy inspiring life story.
His overall message really resonated with me. In the podcast, Hal talks about the extreme setbacks he faced after suffering major injuries in a gruesome car accident and, later, facing great financial struggle during the economic crash of 2008.
He tells of how he was depressed and in a huge rut, “rock bottom” as he refers to it several times.
He then goes on to discuss a practice he enlisted that brought him out of that rut, and that has brought him extreme success since the first day he implemented it.
I’ll add links to the whole podcast and his book at the end of this email if you would like to listen to it or read for yourself, but I am going to sum up the practice that he credits for his success.
The one thing that Hal Elrod and so many other successful, driven, and focused people state as a key to their success, and what sets them apart from those that are not successful, is the dedication to a morning routine.
Now, I know that the first thing that most people will say to that is: “I am not a morning person.”
Well my friend, according to Hal, you don’t really want to be a successful person, then, either.
And though I love my sleep just as much as the next person, I have to agree. The benefits of waking up early are pretty well known, and really cannot be understated.
Your head has a chance to become clearer, your body is poised for peak performance, and you get a jump on all the things you want to accomplish for the day.
Maximizing this critical time in your day when distractions are low and productivity is high can be best accomplished by creating a morning routine. Hal discusses six key elements to include in your morning routine to make it the most effective that I will summarize here.
They say that silence is golden, and this is definitely true first thing in the morning. But focusing on being intentionally silent is something that most do not think about doing. Taking the time in your morning routine to meditate is crucial to clearing your head of all the millions of thoughts that are buzzing through the minds of most human beings, even more so for enterprising entrepreneurs. Focus on being silent and creating a blank slate from which to build your productive day.
(Meditation is something I’ve never really considered doing, though I do have a few “spiritual” friends who swear by it. I think there is a bit of stigma around the practice, one that makes it have to be an extreme. After listening to the podcast though, it seems this doesn’t need to be the case. I plan to begin incorporating my own form of meditation into my daily morning routine from now on.)
Writing down your goals, your dreams, and your desires is extremely effective in laying the foundation for your success. Take these goals and dreams and create affirmations that you can repeat to yourself first thing in the morning. You can find inspiring quotes or make up your own and use them as motivation to keep you focused and hungry, driving you toward your ultimate goals.
(This is something I already adamantly practice, and recommend others to do the same. It allows me to physically see what it is I want to do and accomplish and it is something I can always easily refer back to.)
A large part of the reason that many of us are not able to achieve our goals is because we are not truly able, usually due to fear or doubt, to see ourselves living the life that we want to lead. You must move beyond these feelings of negativity, and you can do this by utilizing visualizations. Imagine yourself living the life you want, accomplishing the goal you want to accomplish. But also, push it beyond that. Hal Elrod speaks to the importance of visualizing yourself doing the action that it will take to get you where you want to be. If you are a writer, visualize yourself typing furiously at the computer, if you are a runner, picture yourself sprinting uphill toward the finish line. Whatever it is that you want to do, visualize yourself taking action, doing the things necessary to get you there.
(Visualization is a huge one in my mind, but not the “dreamer” type of visualization I feel many people get caught up in, focusing only on the result. When I visualize, I do so in the “doer” manner, focusing on the process. It’s a small tweak but makes all the difference. This means instead of visualizing being a famous singer on stage performing for 60,000 people for instance, I would visualize doing all the things that a singer must do in order to reach that level, i.e. spending hours working in the studio, song writing, putting in the countless gigs in small random bars with no audience and so on. Aka, all the unseen work and process that goes into achieving the desired result.)
Waking up early also affords you the extra time to get in a workout. Exercising at the beginning of your day provides you with endorphins and energy that can last all day. Additionally, when you exercise first thing in the morning, you get it out of the way, and don’t have to worry about the possibility of missing a workout due to later distractions. Even if you just do a deep stretch or jump rope for 10 minutes, getting your heart pumping and your blood flowing throughout your body primes you to attack the day physically.
(I’ve made a point to do all my workouts the second I wake up. It has created a habit that no longer feels like I’m forcing myself, I actually want to do it now! On top of that, I never have to worry about missing my run or whatever it is I choose to do because I got caught up working on something else later in the day.)
Another element that is important is reading. Find a great personal or professional development book and read one chapter or a few pages each morning. Or find a blog that speaks to the topics you want to learn more about. Reading this kind of material will get your mind in the right place to be productive and focused for the remainder of the day and will arm you with the tools to do your job better and reach your goals faster.
(Reading is something I hated doing most of my life. I could count on one hand the number of books I had ever read that weren’t required reading for school. What I didn’t know (up until a few years ago) is that I actually don’t hate reading, I really enjoy it. What I had actually hated was the genre of books I had been forced to read growing up. Because of this, I assumed all books were bad and didn’t explore reading any further. This was a huge mistake and something I wish I had learned for myself earlier. Luckily, I know now, and my new understanding of what it is I have an interest and passion for has led me to not only create this newsletter, but my website and the many other things I plan to create in the future. So, to me, reading is the most important thing on this list because it gives you the greatest opportunity to learn. Find out what motivates you and start reading everything you can about it!)
Finally, take the time to write. Whether it’s setting out your goals for the day, journaling your thoughts, jotting down new ideas, or simply stream of consciousness writing, put pen to paper. Writing gets your creative juices flowing and allows you to memorialize anything you may have thought or dreamt about the night before. Start a journal, start a book of short stories, just write.
(Another thing I thought I hated doing. (Damn you structured school system!) But here I am writing, and it isn’t even a requirement. I’ve never considered myself a good writer, still don’t, but I don’t use that as an excuse to not write. I know if I do want to become a better writer, I have to write. I have to make mistakes, I have to share my work and learn from others. The best thing I’ve taken away from becoming a “writer” is that it is an awesome tool for holding yourself accountable for any aspect of your life you wish to improve. So get started writing today, you’ll be happy you did.)
In the end the easiest and fastest way to accomplishing your goals is to create a morning routine. It sets the context for the rest of the day, and when you are intentional about how you start each day, you go into the day with the intention of being productive and successful. Accomplishing so much before most have even hit snooze the first time creates a momentum of productivity for the day.
Hope this helps you from today, into the New Year and beyond!