Morning habits of successful people

Healthy ways to start your days

Many people wake up with just enough time to make a cup of coffee, jump in the shower, grab a quick bite to eat, choose what to wear, plus the rest of the get-ready process – perhaps race the kids to school – then get to the office by 8 a.m.

Over the past couple of months, as I’ve spent more time listening to podcasts, reading blogs and following a variety of influencers, the topic of habits keeps showing up. The consistent theme is related to a routine of self-care. Building a morning routine, as well as a nighttime routine, will contribute to your overall health, wellness, vitality and positivity.

Don’t you want to show up to work each day at your best? As a leader of people, you contribute to the overall experience your employees have during their workday. You can’t contribute to their positivity if you are not taking care of yourself.

Before taking a look at morning habits you may consider, I’ll take a moment to reflect on the wellbeing of the hundreds of leaders I have coached over the past three decades. Many of them have been busy, tired, disappointed in their ability to find time for their own self-care, pulled in too many directions, inclined to grab food that is not healthy, connected to multiple cups of coffee or cans of Diet Coke throughout their day and finding it difficult to fit in their desired workout time.

Research has shown that what we do in the morning are the habits we are most likely to sustain over time. Our day has not yet been derailed. You may be familiar with the intent to start your day well…and then things just go south by the time the day ends. Before you know it, you’re at home on the couch watching mindless TV with a bag of chips in your hands (Yep, I’ve been there!). The better we pre-decide and plan, the more likely we are to remain healthy, vital and positive.

Below are just a few ideas to get you started:            

Drink eight to 16 ounces of water before you head out the door: Put a glass of water on your nightstand. Drink it before you get out of bed to end your state of dehydration. Your cup of coffee can be your reward for chugging that water!    

Spend one to 10 minutes meditating each morning: We have 1,440 minutes in a day. Ten minutes of calmness comprises less than 1 percent of your day. This is an opportunity to just breathe for a moment, clear your head and find some peace. You might find it helpful to use an app like Calm to provide guidance. If 10 minutes is too difficult, start with one minute.   

Write in a journal. This may be as simple as writing down three things you are grateful for or six things you’re looking forward to in your day. Or perhaps you can write down three things about the day before that brought you some happiness.    

Move. Thirty minutes of exercise or movement every day could be your goal. Try a walk out your front door, stretching, yoga, a brisk run or a trip to the gym. Movement and fresh air will contribute to your positivity and energy.

Plan your food for the day. Poor eating can lead to disappointment. Pre-decide what you’re going to do about the plate of cookies in the break room. It’s easy to react to the yummy things that cross our path. I know too many people who experience regret after they’ve mindlessly given in.

Read. I came across an idea that feels easy. Grab a book off your nightstand or on your shelf, open it up and read two or three pages. That’s it. I would call that steady progress inspiration. In addition to this, a general rule of thumb for individuals striving for a successful life is to read at last one book every 30 days.    

Listen to a podcast on your way to work. At the urging of a friend a few months ago, I decided to start listening to information that would inform me rather than simply entertain me. That exact day, I started listening to podcasts on my way to work. Thirty minutes round trip every day adds up. Combined with listening while walking, I estimate that I’ve listened and learned for more than 120 hours.   

This above list is just a microcosm of the options you have for your morning routine. If you don’t have a routine, are you interested in establishing one? If you are, I suggest you research the topic for a more comprehensive offering of ideas. Once you’ve created your list of morning habits, next you can tackle your nighttime routine!

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Aleta Norris is a partner and co-founder of Living As A Leader, a national leadership training, coaching and consulting firm. Living As A Leader supports the development of leaders in more than 125 organizations across the country. For several years, Aleta has been researching and speaking about the critical responsibilities organizations and leaders share related to the attraction, retention and engagement of the emerging workforce.

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