A morning routine makes you feel more productive, focused, and energetic. Coming up with one is the easy part. Pick various habits–such as reading, writing, and meditation–that will create these types of positive effects.
It’s the sticking with it, day after day, month after month, and year after year, that’s usually the hard part. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
If you’re ready to create the perfect morning routine for yourself and really make it stick, here are three very powerful and effective methods that can help you.
1. The Habit Starter Checklist
Rob Norback, founder of One Habit, tried to create a whole series of positive changes in his life and, instead of feeling better, he found that his stress levels went through the roof.
So after going through his own trial-and-error process and studying leaders in positive habits, such as Stephen Covey and James Clear, he came up with the Habit Starter Checklist to not only help you avoid the aggravation he felt but also allow you to create positive habits for life.
This checklist incorporates five actions, all of which start with an R so they are easier to remember:
- Reminder. You won’t engage in your morning routine if you don’t remind yourself to do so, at least at first. Therefore, you want to create triggers that help you remember to engage in the actions you’d like to see yourself do in the morning. For instance, if exercise is in your perfect morning routine, then set out your exercise clothes and shoes the night before.
- Routine. Norback suggests that you “make your habit small enough that you feel absolutely no hesitation in completing it,” thereby making it part of your daily routine. For example, if meditating for 30 minutes every morning seems overwhelming, start by committing to just two minutes instead. You can do pretty much anything for two minutes, right?
- Reward. Celebrating your wins when following through with your morning routine can motivate you to continue to do it day after day, and the rewards don’t have to be big, either. They can be as simple as dancing around once you’ve completed it or even yelling “Hell, yeah!”
- Rehearse. The more you engage in your morning routine, the quicker it becomes pure habit. This includes finding ways to continue with it even when life gets busy, and coming up with strategies to overcome any excuses that could potentially cause you to give up.
- Record. Keeping track of your progress is a great way to make your morning routine stick. You can do this electronically with an app or online calendar, or you can simply make a note on your calendar on the wall, reminding you to review, on a specific day every week, how your morning routine is working for you.
2. The Bruce Lee Challenge
Like the Habit Starter Checklist, this process has five steps.
- 1. Create a routine-based goal. While most goal-setters will suggest that you create a goal that is specific, McAshan suggests that you keep yours “general and long-term” instead. An example related to your morning habit may be to simply get up earlier.
- 2. Determine the objective of your morning routine. Now that you have a general goal, step two means coming up with a way to measure your progress so you know that you’re achieving it. Sticking with the example of getting up earlier, your objective may be to get out of bed at 5 every morning.
- 3. Do it for 21 days. Some experts suggest that it takes three weeks for a new habit to form, so give yourself this length of time to make sure your morning routine becomes, well, routine. (Quick note: Many people think it takes longer to form a habit, so feel free to do it for more than 21 days.)
- 4. Start your new routine now. The only way to make your morning routine habit is to actually start doing it. Not next week, next month, or next year, but now.
- 5. Review your routine. After doing your morning routine for 21 days, it’s time to look at how it’s working for you. If it's making your life better (which is likely to be the result), keep doing it. But if something needs to change, change it, and after 21 more days, review the results again.
3. Know Your Why
Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “If you know the why, you can live any how.” Knowing why creating a morning routine is important to you can help you make it stick for years to come (regardless of what gets in your way).
Think about that for a minute and come up with a list of reasons why you want to make certain actions part of your everyday routine.
For instance, do you want to wake up earlier so you have time to read great new business books that you believe will take you to higher levels professionally? Or maybe you want to make exercise part of your morning habit so that you live a longer, healthier life. Or do you want to be able to spend more time with your kids?
Knowing the ways in which a morning routine would benefit you can help you during times when you’re struggling, and those times will definitely come.
Making your morning routine stick isn’t always easy. But it is possible, especially if you use strategies like these. Choose the method that resonates the most with you and try it. Before you know it, your positive morning activities will start to become habit, almost effortlessly.
Want to go further? Check out my Ultimate Guide to Creating the Perfect Morning Routine (Even If You’re Not a ‘Morning Person’), a detailed step-by-step blueprint to create your own magic in the morning.