Developing My Morning Ritual

“Lose an hour in the morning, and you will spend all day looking for it.”

– Richard Whately

I am NOT a morning person. I usually wake up pissed off at the world, begrudging the alarm that jolted me awake and the fact that mornings exist in the first place. None of this is helped by the fact that I’ve always been a night owl. During my college years I rarely went to bed before 2 a.m., and my sleep schedule hasn’t improved much since.

Despite my harsh feelings towards mornings, I’ve started to recognize the value in rising early. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say I’ve started feeling the consequences of getting up late.

My days often feel chaotic when I sleep in. There never seems to be enough time to get stuff done, and I usually end up going through the day on autopilot. But when I manage to get up early I feel a lot more grounded. It’s as if my mind has time to warm up, allowing it to perform optimally for the rest of the day. I can see clearly what I want to accomplish and take decisive action towards it.

In order to avoid the trappings of late starts, I’ve not only committed to rising earlier on a daily basis, but also to developing my own morning ritual.

Morning rituals are not a new concept. I’ve seen them promoted in religions, self-help books, and even autobiographies. It seems like most of the successful people I read about have some kind of ritual to start their days. I’ve even heard it said that all of us have morning rituals, even if we aren’t conscious of them. Since living consciously is one of my my most important values, intentionally crafting my own morning ritual seems like an important task.

An early morning in San Sebastian. I guess it wasn’t too bad…

While I’m writing about this now, creating my morning ritual has been an ongoing process for the past couple of years. I’m just finally at a point where I’ve found one that suits me.

So how did I go about developing my morning ritual?

To be honest, a lot of it was just trial and error. I looked at a lot of the advice given in self-help books and blogs, and started testing things out. This included everything from cold showers as soon as I woke up to performing goal visualization. A few things stuck; most of them didn’t.

I had to take into account what kind of person I am. Not being a natural morning person, would pushing myself to the edge with a cold shower each morning be sustainable? Probably not. I also considered how much time I needed to wake up, how much structure I wanted, and what parts of early mornings I struggle with the most. For example, I usually feel really groggy for the first 15-20 minutes after waking up. So doing anything that requires a lot of brain power during that time wouldn’t be the smartest strategy.

The ritual I’ve come up with takes about an hour. It changes a bit depending on my work schedule, but this is the core of it:

6:00 a.m. – Get up and splash some cold water on my face 

  • I’ve found this to be a much more relaxed alternative to cold showers.

6:05 a.m. – Put on an audiobook, make a glass of lemon water, and cook breakfast

  • Listening to an audiobook or some type of educational content helps put me in a focused state of mind.
  • The lemon water is just plain refreshing, though I’ve heard it has some added health benefits as well.

6:15 a.m. – Eat breakfast while listening to audiobook

  • Giving myself at least 15 minutes to eat, as opposed to rushing through my meal, helps set a less frazzled tone for my day. I like to be focused, but never rushed.

6:30 a.m. – Meditate for 15 minutes

  • This is probably the most critical part of my routine. Daily meditation keeps me grounded and present, no matter what challenges I face.

6:45 a.m. – Go over my long-term goals and mission statement

  • I’ll go into more detail on this in a different post, but connecting with my long-term goals and mission helps me focus on what really matters during the day.

6:55 a.m. – Look over priorities/goals for the day

  • I usually write these out the night before and quickly review them before I start my day.

7:00 a.m – Get ready for work

All in all, this is a pretty relaxed morning ritual compared some of the other ones I’ve tried. But it gives me just enough time to fully wake up, put some energy in my body, ground myself with meditation, and get focused for the day ahead of me.

 

Do you have a morning ritual? What are some of the strategies you use to get the most out your day?