How do I build a successful business? There are the usual answers:
- Find a white space in the market.
- Write a business plan.
- Craft a strong marketing plan.
- Invest in beautiful brand design.
- Clarify your messaging.
While all these answers will certainly strengthen your business, there’s more to business success than what you do during your work hours. Soft skills and habits, like having a solid morning routine, can play a major role in your accomplishments too.
1. Set a regular bedtime
Success doesn’t happen overnight but getting a good night’s sleep most definitely helps. As we learn more about the restorative powers of sleep, the idea that “sleep is for the weak” has proven entirely untrue. Sleep is when our brain and bodies recharge and recover. Without at least 7 hours of sleep a night, we can be more prone to brain fog, lack of focus, low energy, and mood swings. That doesn’t exactly sound like the recipe for business success.
Consider sleep a non-negotiable for waking up your best self, ready to take on anything. Of course, there will be late nights as you grow your business but try not to make them the norm. Running off zero steam isn’t sustainable.
Read the article on creating a bedtime routine here.
2. Set an alarm clock
Your circadian runs roughly on a 24-hour cycle. A consistent wake-time every day will help keep your hormone production on track. When your hormones are in balance, you have more energy, maintain a better mood, crave less sugar, and realize so many other physical and mental benefits.
Set a consistent wake time that allows you to get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep. Instead of your cellphone, invest in a classic alarm clock with a dim display option. This will help keep distractions and melatonin-suppressing blue light out of your bedroom.
TIP: If you always wake up feeling tired, it may be because your morning alarm is set in the middle of a sleep cycle. It’s much easier to wake up refreshed after the sleep cycle has finished. There are many apps and trackers that can help you with this goal. With Fitbits, for example, you can set your alarm to wake you up at the best time during a predetermined window.
3. Quit hitting snooze
Do you hit snooze often? It may not seem like a big deal, but it can have psychological consequences. By hitting snooze, again and again, you’re subconsciously telling yourself that you don’t need to do what you set out to do. Respect your good intentions and follow through.
When you go without water for seven or more hours, your body becomes dehydrated. When we wake up, the first cup we reach for is often coffee. While delicious, coffee dehydrates you even more. Dehydration contributes to feelings of fatigue. Drink a glass of water when you first wake up and throughout the day to stay hydrated.
5. Make your bed
Simple enough, right? A decluttered bedroom declutters the mind. Making your bed is also the first task you’ve “accomplished”. Starting your day with an accomplishment, however small, sparks positivity that will continue throughout the day.
6. Get outside
Early morning light has the greatest impact on your circadian rhythm. Try to get at least half an hour of sunlight before 9am. Sunlight stimulates production of your “get up and go” hormone, cortisol. It also stimulates production of serotonin, your “happiness hormone”.
Walk to work, journal on a park bench, or have your morning cup of coffee outside. This is especially important during the winter months when we don’t get as much sunlight.
What about the snow, you ask? Bundle up! We Canadians are no strangers to the cold. There’s nothing more invigorating than coming inside after a brisk winter walk. Did we lose you with that one? Then at least have your coffee by the window.
7. Move your body
When people hear “morning exercise”, they often think this means a full-on rigorous sweat session. If you’re into that, kudos. If you’re not, no problem. We need to shift our thinking from all or nothing. Lower your bar for morning exercise and it gets much easier to do. The main goal is to wake up your body and get some mood-boosting endorphins flowing.
Commit to doing 5-10 reps of something.
Pushups, sit-ups and jumping jacks are great starters. If you feel up to it, try an app like Nike+. You can set a duration as short as 5-minutes to start with exercises you can do at home. Small changes can lead to big results.
Walking counts. Stairs count too. Make small changes to add more steps to your morning routine.
Meditation isn’t just for yogis and monks. In his best-selling book, Tools of Titans, Tim Ferriss shares the tactics, routines, and habits of billionaires, icons, and world-class performers. At least 80% of the leaders he interviews practice some sort of daily meditation.
When’s the last time you sat in silence? As a society, we’ve forgotten how to be still. Look around the next time you’re on the bus or sitting in a waiting room. How many people are on their phones? With the world at our fingertips, we’re filling the space we need for reflection with distraction.
Not sure where to start? Try the Headspace or the Insight Timer apps. Insight Timer has a lot of great meditations under 5 minutes. The point isn’t to be perfect. It’s simply to make space that allows you time to reflect on where you are and where you want to be. Don’t be too hard on yourself if your mind wanders. Gently guide it back. Seek progress, not perfection.
9. Set your intentions
Journaling is an incredible tool for self-development and is especially important for entrepreneurs. A journal isn’t necessarily a diary of events. It can be, for some, but for many, a journal is a tool used to develop clarity, keep accountability, and incubate ideas. One of the best uses of morning journaling is setting your intentions for the day.
If you’ve incorporated nightly journaling into your bedtime routine, the morning is a good time to re-visit any to-do lists you’ve prioritized for yourself. It’s also a great time to think bigger picture.
- Today I’m most looking forward to ______________.
- The most important thing I want to focus on is __________ because ___________.
- I’m feeling grateful for____________.
- Does my to-do list correspond with my long-term goals? If no, why not? Is there something I can do today to help move in that direction? _____________________.
It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. Once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen. - Muhammad Ali
Icons like Oprah Winfrey, Jim Carrey, and Muhammad Ali have shared their belief in the power of positive thinking and the use of daily affirmations.
If I can picture the life and business success you want, think about the person you’ll need to be to get there.
- For me, success is ___________________________.
- Achieving this is important to me because _______________________.
- I am ______________, _______________, and ________________.
Repeating these affirmations in your journal every morning can re-wire your brain to fully believe them. Muhammad Ali said, “I am the greatest!” And he was! Take a cue from Ali and make it happen for you.
10. Start doing
We all have those “someday” goals. A good morning can help make those someday goals happen sooner. Do you have any long-term goals? Is your current path helping you reach them? Progress doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Little things can add up to big changes when you do them every morning.
In your journal, take some time to consider the following:
- What are your “someday” goals? Personally, and for your business. Write a list.
- Write out your to-do list. Does your to-do list correspond with your list of “someday” goals?
- Does this list correspond with your definition of success?
Once you have a sense of your long-term goals, you need to make a little time each day to make them happen. Mornings are perfect for this. You’re not distracted by the world around you. And progress – however small – is a great way to start the day.
Whether it’s reading a business book, learning a new skill, writing gratitude, or saying affirmations, taking at least 5 minutes every morning that propels you in the direction of your goals will help you as an entrepreneur, parent, sibling, spouse, and any other role you hold.
Commit to trying these new morning rituals for 30 days. We’ll bet you’ll feel differently about mornings if you do. Have your own morning rituals? Let us know in the comments.