By Benjamin P Hardy
Life is busy. It can feel impossible to move toward your dreams. If you have a full-time job and kids, it’s even harder.
How do you move forward?
If you don’t purposefully carve time out every day to progress and improve—without question, your time will get lost in the vacuum of our increasingly crowded lives.
Before you know it, you’ll be old and withered—wondering where all that time went.
As Professor Harold Hill has said—“You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays.”
Rethinking Your Life and Getting Out of Survival Mode
This article is intended to challenge you to rethink your entire approach to life. The purpose is to help you simplify and get back to the fundamentals.
Sadly, most people’s lives are filled to the brim with the nonessential and trivial. They don’t have time to build toward anything meaningful.
They are in survival mode. Are you in survival mode?
Like Bilbo, most of us are like butter scraped over too much bread.
Unfortunately, the bread is not even our own, but someone else’s. Very few have taken the time to take their lives into their own hands.
It was social and cultural to live our lives on other people’s terms just one generation ago. And many millennials are perpetuating this process simply because it’s the only worldview we’ve been taught.
However, there is a growing collective-consciousness that with a lot of work and intention — you can live every moment of your life on your own terms.
You are the designer of your destiny.
You are responsible.
You get to decide. You must decide — because if you don’t, someone else will. Indecision is a bad decision.
With this short morning routine, your life will quickly change.
It may seem like a long list. But in short, it’s really quite simple.
- Wake up
- Get in the zone
- Get moving
- Put the right food in your body
- Get ready
- Get inspired
- Get perspective
- Do something to move you forward
Get A Healthy 7+ Hours of Sleep
Over 50 million Americans suffer from over 70 different sleep disorders. Not only that, 60 percent of adults, and 69 percent of children, experience one or more sleep problems a few nights or more during a week.
More than 50 percent of adults are tired enough during the day that it severely interferes with their daily activities, such as work and being present with their family.
Are you tired?
On the flip side, getting quality sleep is linked to:
- Increased memory
- Longer life
- Decreased inflammation
- Increased creativity
- Increased attention and focus
- Decreased fat and increased muscle mass with exercise
- Lower stress
- Decreased dependence on stimulants like caffeine
- Decreased risk of getting into accidents
- Decreased risk of depression
- And tons more… Google it.
The rest of this blog post is worthless if you don’t make sleep a priority. Who cares if you wake up at 5 o’clock A.M. if you went to bed three hours earlier
You won’t last long.
You may use stimulants to compensate, but that isn’t sustainable. In the long run, your health will fall apart. The goal needs to be long-term sustainability.
Despite the fact that over 90% of American adults use caffeine daily, you don’t need to.
Caffeine is the most abused psycho-active drug on the planet. The difference between “use” and “abuse” is that use of something is intentional and irregular.
Abuse is when you use a drug compulsively and develop dependencies. Addiction occurs when you do something repetitiously and gain no progress, but instead, become increasingly incapable.
Regular use of stimulants is not essential nor needed once you’ve organized your life to have organic and natural energy.
Extreme and natural levels of energy come from: 1) being internally aligned, 2) having clear priorities and a meaningful purpose you’re living and creating, and 3) being present in your life.
Being in a flow state and being internally aligned creates more energy, whereas dependence on stimulants to get you through typical daily routines drains your energy and your confidence.
However, in order to have loads of natural energy, you must intentionally design your life.
Quality sleep, for instance, must be designed for. As Stanford psychologist, BJ Fogg has said, “Design beats willpower.”
If you want to sleep well, you must set up your environment and life to sleep well. It’s a matter of priority and care.
Are you living carefully or casually?
Do you really care about your energy levels?
Do you really care about your performance?
Are you really building toward a future you aspire toward?
Are you becoming the person you want to be?
Every environment in your life should have a purpose. Your environment for sleep should facilitate and be optimized for sleep.
Remove all technology, such as screens, from that room.
Before you go to bed, have a clearly articulated purpose for the next day written down. Don’t ever start your day until it is written on paper.
When you make a decision the night before about what you’re going to do, then you remove willpower from the equation.
Willpower is, fundamentally, a byproduct of being undecided. The scientific term for willpower is “decision fatigue,” and what it means is that you haven’t yet made a decision.
Will I hit the snooze button or not? We’ll see…
Then morning comes and what happens? Because you weren’t 100% decided, you default to the feelings of the moment.
You cave. And as a result, your confidence plummets, even if just subconsciously.
Getting good and deep sleep comes from knowing what will happen when you wake up. You don’t have to sit and stew in your bed. Your mind isn’t wandering.
You have a plan. You’ve designed your environment. You’re good to go. You can close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and rest peacefully. You can fall asleep quickly, almost immediately.
Prayer and Meditation to Facilitate Clarity and Abundance
After waking from a healthy and restful sleep session, prayer and meditation are crucial for orienting yourself toward the positive. What you focus on expands.
You attract in your life what you are.
First thing in the morning, you can begin setting yourself on a higher plane of living. On a higher energy field.
You do this by engaging in high-level behaviors that upgrade your confidence and internal sense of character.
Confidence is the byproduct of positive choices.
The first positive choice is to wake up when you planned to the night before. If you hit the snooze button, this sends two very negative signals to your subconscious.
- You lied to yourself (again), because you set the alarm to get up, and now you don’t care
- You are avoiding, rather than approaching life
Confidence is a matter of self-trust. If you lie to yourself, you destroy your own confidence. Internally, you stop believing yourself.
Therefore, you stop making decisions and stop making commitments.
As a result, your life becomes less intentional and purposeful, and instead, more reactive and random. You become more cynical and more of a victim.
When you hit the snooze button first thing in the morning and stay in bed, what that signals to yourself is that you’re avoiding life.
You’re avoiding the day. You’re not chasing. You’re not on offense. You’re not creating. Instead, you’re waiting for the very final moment when you have to face the day.
Avoidance-orientation means you’re living without power. It means you’re playing life not to lose, instead of playing to win.
Starting your day with prayer and gratitude signals yourself upward.
Gratitude changes everything. It re-contextualizes anything from what Dan Sullivan calls “the gap” to “the gain.”
You are a conscious being. Where you place your awareness is fundamentally what you will become.
Again, what you focus on expands. Your consciousness either expands or contracts based on what you choose to focus on.
Powerful people learn to train their attention to focus on what they want, rather than what they don’t want. Psychologists call this selective attention and “conscious integration.”
It’s a fundamental skill you need to develop: The ability to control and guide your attention. You must become aware, faster, when you’re focusing on something that is wasteful, such as social media or other forms of low-level distraction.
As you guide your attention toward the good in life, as well as what you want, you will magnetically attract into your life the right people, opportunities, and resources.
Making money becomes very easy when you know how to see it and create it.
But you cannot fake it. You can’t fake confidence, because confidence is a matter of character, which is built through aligned decisions and following through on your word, especially to yourself.
Gratitude is a brilliant way to train your mind and brain to focus on and exclusively see the good in the world.
Gratitude allows any challenge to be framed as a joy. Gratitude will invite the best people and opportunities into your life.
Review Your Life Vision
Your goals should be written down — short term and long term. Having your big picture “purpose” written down REMINDS you of what you stand for. It reminds you what to direct your attention toward that day.
Without reminders, cues, and triggers throughout your environment, you could quickly forget. You could get swept-off by the stress of the day.
Reading a powerfully written “purpose statement” triggers your mind to a higher plane. It zones your focus to not be reactive, but proactive and creative.
You should have a written purpose and vision statement for your life. This doesn’t need to be long, and of course, it will be updated and adapted regularly as you evolve and grow as a person.
This purpose statement can include what you deeply believe in and value. It could include long-term milestones you hope to experience in your life.
It should define what you believe to be “the good life,” and how you want to be defined by yourself and others.
You get to chose and create this purpose statement.
The more consciously and emotionally evolved you become, the more you realize that you are attracting and creating everything in your life. Even the stuff you don’t want.
You get to create your purpose.
You get to live out that purpose.
Or, you could be purposeless. You could be a ship without a sail.
In the book, ZERO TO ONE, billionaire Peter Theil explains four fundamental mindsets about the world.
- Definite optimism:this is what allowed America to get to the moon. It means you know what the future will look like and you know it will be amazing.
- Indefinite optimism:this is where America is now. We believe the future will be better because that is in our blood, but we have no clue what that future looks like anymore.
- Definite pessimism:this view reflects the internal knowledge that the future will be worse. Addiction is an example of definite pessimism, despite the justifications and lies, you know deep down that you’re headed down a bad path.
- Indefinite pessimism:this view believes the future will be worse but doesn’t really know what that will look like. Theil argues that most European cultures are indefinitely pessimistic.
Being indefinite leads you to focus on “process” over “substance.” You just try to do what you think may lead to success, rather than defining success for yourself.
Without being purposeful, you cannot have power in your life.
A person is only fully human by their choices and commitment to those choices.
What do you stand for?
What will you fight for?
What would you die for?
What will you live for?
What will you live TODAY for?
Without conviction, your life becomes purposeless. You can’t be powerful enough to produce incredible results.
You can’t stand out in the crowd. Instead, you’ll drag yourself through the day. You’ll work a job you hate. You’ll be confused about life.
You’ll always remain ineffective.
Achieving goals is a science. There’s no confusion or ambiguity to it. If you follow a simple pattern, you can accomplish all of your goals, no matter how big they are.
A fundamental aspect of that is writing them down and reviewing them every single day.
Write Down Your Short-Term Goals
In addition to reviewing your Vision or Purpose statement, you want to write down your short-term goals.
These goals could be framed as 3-month, 6-month, 12-month, or even 3-year goals.
Having goals built around a meaningful date is a great way to organize your thinking.
If there is an important date coming up sometime in the future, such as a vacation in 2-3 months, then you can start writing your goals around THAT date.
Building goals around New Years is alright, but it’s not personally meaningful.
Writing your goals down in the morning, even just for five minutes, keeps them in front of your mind. Also, you want to write these goals down in an affirmative sense.
Speak in a language that is powerful. This is known as “auto-suggestion,” and it’s a powerful way to reshape and direct your subconscious mind.
You speak the reality you want to see happen.
Speak in the affirmative.
“I will be a millionaire by [you choose the date].”
“I am a millionaire.”
“I live in my dream home.”
The more specific the goals, and the more emotional the mental rehearsal in your mind, the more you’ll believe it. Whatever you can conceive and believe is yours.
As Florence Shinn stated, “Faith knows it has already received and acts accordingly.”
Faith is a belief in something you cannot presently see. Your future is as bright as your faith.
Can you see your goals being accomplished?
Do you know within your heart that you’ve already succeeded?
Do you act accordingly on a daily basis?
In psychology, a concept known as self-signaling shows that our behaviors become our identity. We see ourselves based on our actions. We define ourselves based on our choices.
So, if you start acting in accordance with your goals and higher principles, your identity will shift to match your behaviors.
If your behaviors are low-level and mediocre, you’ll have a low self-image. You’ll have low confidence.
Without confidence, it’s hard to truly have faith in the future. The two go hand-in-hand.
Hard Physical Activity
Despite endless evidence of the need for exercise, only one-third of American men and women between the ages of 25 to 64 years engage in regular physical activity according to the Center for Disease Control’s National Health Interview Survey.
If you want to be among the healthy, happy, and productive people in the world, get in the habit of regular exercise. Many people go immediately to the gym to get their body moving. I have lately found that doing yard work in the wee hours of the morning generates an intense inflow of inspiration and clarity.
Whatever your preference, get your body moving.
Exercise has been found to decrease your chance of depression, anxiety, and stress. It is also related to higher success in your career.
If you don’t care about your body, every other aspect of your life will suffer. Humans are holistic beings.
Take A Cold Shower
Cold water immersion radically facilitates physical and mental wellness. When practiced regularly, it provides long-lasting changes to your body’s immune, lymphatic, circulatory and digestive systems that improve the quality of your life.
It can also increase weight-loss because it boosts your metabolism.
A 2007 research study found that taking cold showers routinely can help treat depression symptoms often more effectively than prescription medications.
That’s because cold water triggers a wave of mood-boosting neurochemicals which make you feel happy.
There is, of course, an initial fear of stepping into a cold shower. Without a doubt, if you’ve tried this before, you have found yourself standing outside the shower dreading the thought of going in.
You may have even talked yourself out of it and said, “Maybe tomorrow.” And turned the hot water handle before getting in.
Or, maybe you jumped in but quickly turned the hot water on?
What has helped me is thinking about it as a swimming pool. It’s a slow painful death to get into a cold pool slowly. You just need to jump in. After 20 seconds, you’re fine.
It’s the same way with taking a cold shower. You get in, your heart starts beating like crazy. Then, after like 20 seconds, you feel fine.
Taking cold showers is a simple way to build confidence. It’s a simple way to face resistance.
You’re not going to get hurt.
Chances are, unless you live somewhere totally cold, that your shower can’t even get below 60 degrees.
Let the cold water hit your body. Let it define your muscles. Let it strengthen your internal resolve and creativity.
Learn to control your breathing and mind in semi-challenging environments. This is just mental training.
It’s also physical beauty. It will strengthen your resolve to face much harder challenges and “pain” throughout your day.
Listen to/Read Uplifting Content
Ordinary people seek entertainment. Extraordinary people seek education and learning. It is common for the world’s most successful people to read at least one book per week. They are constantly learning.
Your input shapes your outlook.
The information you consume shapes your identity, worldview, and personality.
Every form of information has an energy-level. If you’re consuming l0w-level energy, then you will be a low-energy person.
When you begin listening to higher-energy information, it will change you. You’ll upgrade your thinking, your emotions, your energy all around you.
Your behavior will improve, and thus, your identity and personality will change. Your confidence and character will improve, and thus, your faith, imagination, and future will expand.
Taking even 15-30 minutes every morning to read uplifting and instructive information changes you. It puts you in the zone to perform at your highest.
Over a long enough period of time, you will have read hundreds of books. You’ll be knowledgeable on several topics.
You’ll think and see the world differently. You’ll be able to make more connections between different topics.
Do At Least One Thing Towards Long-Term Goals
Becoming successful isn’t hard. It simply takes moving a few steps in the right direction, every single day.
Most people let too many days go by without making even a single step of progress.
If you don’t get some progress done before the busyness of the day sets in, then time will get moving fast.
You’ll lose track of that time.
Before you know it, you’ll have a lot of empty yesterdays.
You can become world-class at anything. I’ve watched this in my own life. It doesn’t take special skill. It takes learning how to shape your mind and life.
It takes making powerful decisions.
It takes tapping into the magic of the morning and using the momentum of the morning to upgrade your daily life.
When you improve how you operate on a daily basis, your life changes.
In the morning, do the important stuff.
Take even just one step toward your dreams.
Then, start squeezing more and more time in for the long-term and important, rather than the short-term and urgent.
Delete more and more from your life that doesn’t resonate with your big picture future.
Remove the distractions, such as social media and mindless information. Upgrade how you use those 5-minute spaces of time which you now use for internet distraction.
If you don’t get stuff done first thing in the morning, you set a pattern for the rest of your day and life.
By the end of your day, you’ll be exhausted. You’ll be fried. There will be a million reasons to just start tomorrow. And you will start tomorrow – which is never.
So your mantra becomes: The worst comes first. Do that thing you’ve been needing to do. Then do it again tomorrow.
If you take just one step toward your big goals every day, you’ll realize those goals weren’t really far away.
After you’ve done this, no matter what you have for the rest of your day, you’ll have done the important stuff first. You’ll have put yourself in a place to succeed. You’ll have inched toward your dreams.
Because you’ll have done all these things, you’ll show up better in life. You’ll be better at your job.
You’ll be better in your relationships. You’ll be happier. You’ll be more confident. You’ll be more bold and daring. You’ll have more clarity and vision.
Your life will shortly change.
You can’t have mornings like this consistently without waking up to all that is incongruent in your life. Those things you despise will meet their demise. They’ll disappear and never return.
You’ll quickly find you’re doing the work you’re passionate about.
Your relationships will be passionate, meaningful, deep, and fun!
You will have freedom and abundance.
The world, and the universe, will respond to you in beautiful ways.
Benjamin P Hardy is the bestselling author of Willpower Doesn’t Work, which explains the profound impact your environment has on your behavior, mindset, and success. He is an organizational psychologist, speaker, entrepreneur and a father to five kids.
(Published as part of a content partnership with BenjaminHardy.com.)