Updated: Feb 18
To snooze or not to snooze… Is this really a question?
Waking up early, starting the day off strong, and accomplishing all your goals before breakfast… sounds too good to be true for most of us, myself included at times.
I am absurdly convincing when that first alarm goes off. No matter what plans I made or how excited I was the night before, a different person wakes up before 6 am.
I didn't sleep well, I couldn't fall asleep last night, I think I may be coming down with something, it's too dark outside still, or maybe my period is starting today. So I'll do that later in the day, or I promise I'll get up even earlier tomorrow to make up for it. VERY convincing.
Whatever the excuse or the bargaining chip, the morning routine is where the beginning of success lies.
How long does change really take?
Creating a new habit is said to take an average of 66 days before becoming routine. So is 2-3 months of dedication worth a lifetime of success? Absolutely.
Creating positive change in our life can be incredibly difficult. We try and try, and life gets in the way; we trip over ourselves and give up. But it takes time to create that perfect habit or ritual that will flow smoothly and become easy and natural.
The same goes for negative habits too. The more we do something and the longer we do that, the harder it is to change. Think about the bad habits that hold you back from your goals. How long have they been built up and driven into your day-to-day?
Instant gratification is also to blame. When something takes too long to achieve, we give up or stop moving forward and substitute with more accessible, typically less healthy or helpful, routines instead.
This desire for instant results or pleasure hinders us from achieving success in our quest for a healthy, holistic, and happy life. Instead, human nature sets us in our ways, assuming change will be easy and fast.
The secret is to understand and accept that lasting change takes time, patience, and determination to succeed.
The time it takes for change to be made is highly individualistic and depends on the circumstance, the person, and the desired change.
Studies have shown that change can take anywhere from 18 days to a grueling 254 days. Change. Takes. Time. Don't rush to get there.
"According to a 2009 study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, it takes 18 to 254 days for a person to form a new habit. The study also concluded that, on average, it takes 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic."
Let's start by organizing the change into specific daily routines you've already created.
Morning and evening routines. A shower or bathing routine. Meal time routines. A radiance or beauty ritual.
Think about what you already do during these times. For example, when you step into your shower, do you do the same thing often, in the same order even?
You already have routines. Maintain the good parts and change the negative aspects into positive ones. Add small changes to your regular routines. Or simply create a new way with healthy components where needed.
This week, focus on your morning routine.
The Morning Routine for Success.
If you were to search "Morning Routine," you'll find yourself with quite the reading or watch list.
Let me sum up the importance of a regular, daily morning routine:
A set routine eliminates decision fatigue, generating momentum for a day of increased energy, positivity, mindfulness, and productivity.
Having structured routines promote mental, physical, and emotional health.
A morning routine will prepare you holistically for the rest of the day. Start the morning off right and the rest will follow.
Starting with self-discipline creates a sense of control, eliminating the days that feel like they're controlling you.
Improve your coping mechanisms and lower stress.
Developing healthy habits leads to an overall healthier life.
Relationships are improved as you become stronger, healthier, and more content. Your positive energy will rub off on those around you, creating a healthier lifestyle for your family and friends.
Your energy levels will be boosted, making each day feel more at ease and more fun.
Your cognitive abilities improve with a solid morning routine, combating forgetfulness while boosting efficiency in all you do. This creates MORE TIME in your busy day.
Improve your confidence. You'll look and feel your best with a holistic routine accomplished early.
Improve flexibility for both body and mind. Practicing control is mimicked by evolving flexibility. Not everything will go your way, and you'll have to adapt to the elements.
Trial and Error
Beginning a morning routine includes dedication, strength, and frustration. Be patient with yourself and accept the setbacks as challenges to conquer.
Imagine your ideal morning routine. Maybe you've always dreamt of being that person who wakes up at 5 am to exercise, hydrate, eat a healthy breakfast, and have that perfect cup of tea or coffee.
I already feel that face I make when I hear about someone with this perfect morning routine. How rude of them to have it all figured out! What nerve do they have to float around the day with that healthy annoying glow? I'll have to go home, drink a bottle of wine, and eat a big bowl of ice cream to forget their serene face. Definitely sleeping in tomorrow.
But don't be mad. You too can have the glow, the success, and the contentment. Sure 5 am would be challenging, but imagine what the rest of your day would feel like. So conquer that challenge first thing.
Have you ever experienced what 5 am feels like in your life? Does the sun start to rise just as you finish your yoga and meditation? Is the rest of the family waking up as you complete your fantastic cup of bliss in peace?
I challenge you to write down your perfect morning routine. What's included? What time would you need to wake up? What accomplishments are completed before breakfast? How would all of that make you feel? Would it be worth it? Would it be doable if someday it became natural and easy?
Could you dedicate 2 to 3 months to make it so flawless and enjoyable that you couldn't miss it?
Now, put that dream routine aside for a moment. I urge you not to shoot for the stars on day one.
For long-term, lasting results, start slow. Take baby steps. What time do you wake up now? Can you try setting your alarm for 30 minutes earlier or even 10 minutes earlier? Add pieces of the change over time to get to that dream routine.
Take this as a learning opportunity to see what works and what doesn't work for you. Then, fine-tune the process until it fits, rain or shine.
My morning routine story
Practice what you preach.
Currently, I am in Costa Rica, where everything came together for me 12 years ago. To get back here, we purged all of our belongings, which included all of my journals and calendars that I was saving. Instead of storing these things, I decided to take pictures of the journal entries to save as pdfs. A common theme became evident as I quickly snapped shot after shot and skimmed bits of my deepest thoughts and emotions.
Since I was 9 years old, I have always wanted a healthy routine. Page after page of "today's the day" and "the dream routine." The morning routine has been a goal of mine my whole life.
At 22 years old, I moved to Costa Rica to live and work at a nature retreat resort for three months. We had vegetarian, organic meals served to us three times a day at the same time each day. In fact, it was my job to set up the restaurant for these meal times.
My roommates were a yoga teacher from New Jersey and a massage therapist from Venezuela. These two lovely ladies were constantly helping me with posture and holistic health. It was this travel time that led me to become an acupuncturist.
I woke up every morning at 5:30 am with the yoga teacher to walk through the jungle to a beautiful yoga pavilion where I participated in an hour-and-a-half yoga class. Afterward, we would walk to breakfast, and the rest of the day was free for reading in hammocks, soaking up the sun on the beach, or finding some kind of adventure. I worked for a bit in the evening, just after lunch, and settled down with my friends for dinner before reading in bed.
I always tried to reproduce that perfect routine but struggled with it. It was so easy, so natural, so amazing that I would never think to miss it. But then I moved back to the states. I lost my routine. It was nearly impossible to reproduce that same dream routine.
Obviously, real life didn't include roommates who encouraged me, chefs who cooked for me, and paradise on all sides.
Even back in that same paradise now, I'm struggling with the morning routine. I'm a mom and a wife. I feel out of shape after a stressful transition. I lack wifi, Amazon Prime, and community. I must learn how to cook meals with limited supplies and unstocked grocery stores far away on rough roads. The bugs, who once left me alone, now love me. It rains regularly.
Even in paradise, challenges exist.
So I'm starting from scratch. I want to wake up at 5 am, which is more accessible here than in the states. I sleep in a room full of windows overlooking an epic view. Some roosters go off every morning from 4:15 am to 5:30 am. Then the howler monkeys start their morning song around 6:15 am. I now have a pool available, but I have no history of swimming laps.
We must find our advantages and disadvantages when creating new routines.
For a week, I will simply make it my goal to get out of bed and onto the yoga mat. Then I'll incorporate swimming and walking to a quiet destination to finish some writing. By the time I hit breakfast with my family, I'll have exercised, worked creatively, and mindfully enjoyed my day. After that, the rest of the day is free.
Inspiration to fuel your morning routines. These famous people swear by theirs. (Information found on Brightside.me).
Jennifer Aniston wakes up at 4:30 am, washes her face, drinks warm lemon water, and meditates for 20 minutes.
Oprah Winfrey starts her mornings with 20 minutes of meditation, including weekends and holidays.
Tim Ferriss accomplishes small goals and has the motto of "win the morning, win the day." He clears his mind and feels proud and accomplished after starting his day by making his bed.
Lea Michele has a cup of coffee and then takes a steam shower to exfoliate, sweat, and eliminate toxins from her body each morning.
Richard Branson wakes up at 5 am, works out, and has breakfast. He then enjoys the most essential part of his morning by spending time with his family.
Jessica Alba wakes up to exercise since she believes you're less likely to accomplish your workout if you put it off until the evening. To make waking up early easier, she works out with her friends to stay motivated and stress-free.
Brittany Snow wakes up with breakfast and a mood-boosting playlist to set a proper perspective for the rest of her day.
Julianne Hough starts her day with a gratitude ritual. She's awake by 6:30 am, and she thinks of 5 things she is grateful for while sitting in bed. She also sets spiritual goals for the upcoming 24 hours.
David Karp avoids reading emails and saves this task for when he arrives at work. Utilizing filters on his email, he's not distracted. He spends his morning without being bombarded by the world.
Kate Hudson wakes up with an ice bath for her face. This causes a fast awakening while giving her skin a soft, healthy glow.
Mark Zuckerberg eliminates the number of decisions with a healthy morning routine. He saves time by not having to worry about what to wear or eat. He avoids decision fatigue while focusing his attention on business.
Steve Jobs looks at himself in the mirror each morning and asks himself the same question: "If today was the last day of my life, would I want to do what I'm doing today?" Remember to pursue your dreams and stay true to yourself.
Your Weekly Challenge:
Trial and error.
Join my challenge and try small steps toward your ideal morning routine.
This week, wake up 10 to 30 minutes earlier and add a task that makes you happy. For me, it's yoga, so I'm starting with 20 minutes each morning and hope to work my way up to 90 minutes over the next couple of months. Even getting up to brush your teeth or drinking a warm glass of lemon water can change your environment enough to take the next step toward exercise.
Are the dark mornings to blame for being unable to get out of bed? Try a sunrise alarm clock. This saved me when I lived aboard cruise ships in a tiny shoe box without windows. It's also beneficial for the darker mornings this time of year.
Slowly getting brighter before waking you gently with an alarm makes your body and mind prepared to get out of bed. Keep it further away from your mattress for the added benefit of having to get out of bed to turn it off.
See the link at the end of this post for the sunrise alarm clock I used and loved for many years.
What's your goal to reach by the end of January, 2.5 months from now? Then, don't wait until New Year's Day to improve yourself and create the routine you love.
Leave a comment below and tell me your ideal morning routine. Are you doing it now, or is there a struggle associated? Do you have any tips or questions for me? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Check out this sunrise alarm clock to ease you out of bed earlier; it's a game-changer!
Click the photo to shop!