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 out time 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 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, focus on what's meaningful, and live and work with intention.

With you orient your life around intentions, you can live every moment 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 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; and
  • do something to move yourself forward.

Let's begin:

1. Get a healthy seven-plus hours of sleep

Sleep is just as important as eating and drinking water. Despite this, millions of people do not sleep enough and experience insane problems as a result.

The National Sleep Foundation conducted surveys that revealed at least 40 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders, more than 70 kinds. In addition, more than 40 percent of adults experience daytime sleepiness severe enough to interfere with their activities at least a few days each month -- with 20 percent reporting problem sleepiness a few days a week or more.

On the flip side, getting a healthy amount of sleep is linked to increased memory, longer life, decreased inflammation, greater attention and focus, and lower stress. And much more--Google it.

The rest of this post is worthless if you don't make sleep a priority. What does it matter if you wake up at 5 a.m. if you went to bed three hours earlier? You won't last long. 

2. 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.

When you start your day grateful for everything you have been given, you start your day with an abundance mindset. When you think in terms of abundance, you stay open to limitless opportunity and possibility. And when you start with that clarity, you will attract the best the world has to offer and not get distracted.

3. Hard physical activity

Despite endless evidence of the need for exercise, only one-third of American men and women between the ages of 25 and 64 engage in regular physical activity, according to the Centers 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 bodies moving. I have lately found that doing yard work in the wee hours of the morning generates an intense flow of inspiration and clarity.

Whatever your preference, get your body moving. Exercise has been found to decrease anxiety, stress, and the chance of depression. 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.

4. Consume 30 grams of protein

Donald Layman, professor emeritus of nutrition at the University of Illinois, recommends consuming at least 30 grams of protein for breakfast. Similarly, Tim Ferriss, in his book The 4-Hour Body, recommends 30 grams of protein 30 minutes after waking up.

Protein-rich foods keep you full longer than other foods, because they take longer to leave the stomach. Also, protein keeps blood-sugar levels steady, which prevents spikes in hunger. Eating protein first decreases your white carbohydrate cravings. These are the types of carbs that get you fat. Think bagels, toast, and doughnuts.

Ferriss makes four recommendations for getting adequate protein in the morning: 1) Eat at least 40 percent of your breakfast calories as protein; 2) do it with two or three whole eggs (each egg has about six grams of protein); 3) if you don't like eggs, use something like turkey bacon, organic pork bacon or sausage, or cottage cheese; or 4) you could always do a protein shake with water. For people who avoid dairy, meat, and eggs, there are several plant-based proteins. Legumes, greens, nuts, and seeds all are rich in protein.

5. Take a cold shower

Tony Robbins starts every morning by jumping into a 57-degree-Fahrenheit swimming pool. Why would he do such a thing?

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 study found that routinely taking cold showers can help treat depression symptoms, often more effectively than medications. That's because cold water triggers a wave of mood-boosting neurochemicals that make you feel happy.

So jump in. Your heart will beat like crazy, and then, after like 20 seconds, you feel fine.

For me, a cold shower increases my willpower and boosts my creativity and inspiration. While standing with the water hitting my back, I practice slowing my breathing and calming down. After I've chilled out, I feel super happy and inspired. Plus, it's healthy to do something in the morning that kind of freaks you out. It gets you feeling alive and sets the tone for living outside your comfort zone.

6. Listen to or 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.

I can easily get through one audio book per week by listening during my commute to school and while walking on campus. Taking even 15 to 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.

7. Review your life vision

Your goals should be written down -- short term and long term. Taking just a few minutes to read your life vision puts your day into perspective.

If you read your long-term goals every day, you will think about them every day. If you think about them every day, and spend your days working toward them, they'll manifest.

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.

8. Do at least one thing toward long-term goals

Willpower is like a muscle, because it depletes when it is exercised. Similarly, our ability to make high-quality decisions becomes fatigued over the course of the day. The more decisions you make, the lower their quality  and the weaker your willpower.

Consequently, you need to do the hard stuff first thing in the morning. The important stuff. If you don't, it simply will not get done. 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.