Because everybody's so individual, there's more than one morning routine that can achieve fabulous outcomes--don't feel like you have to follow Elon Musk or Tim Cook. Still, there are a few activities that are great to do at some point in the morning because of the way they subtly steer you into the right attitude for the day.

1. Take 10 minutes to do whatever you want.

Morning is full of things you have to do, like eating, taking the dog out or finding your kids' backpack. And if you spend time checking email, you essentially force yourself to make a mental list of even more things people are waiting on you for. All of those "musts" can make you feel powerless and trapped.

You can't bring your true, full self to the day if you don't know who that self even is. So take just a few minutes to reconnect to what you enjoy, to prove to yourself you still have the power of choice. The time doing something pleasurable will boost your mood by giving you a little dose of feel good chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, too.   

2. Review your to-do list or agenda.

If you've set up a to-do list the night before, you're likely to be less stressed because you have a plan and decent sense of what your priorities have to be. But sometimes in the evening, fatigue can lead us to less than optimal choices. Go back and check your list again when you are fresh.

At the very least, doing this will help you remember what's upcoming better, giving you confidence. But it also gives you a chance to do some rearranging if needed based on reconsiderations or respecting how your body feels. A great agenda always includes items that personally matter to you, allow you to support someone else using your skills and bring you excitement.

3. Practice gratitude.

Identifying a few things you're grateful for in the morning is a must on just about every routine list because it forces you to acknowledge right away that, no matter how dark the world might be, you're not entirely without light. Knowing that makes a world of difference when you later encounter stressful situations. But from the scientific perspective, practicing gratitude also trains your brain to look for more positive things, encouraging you to go out and proactively create the situations that will bring you happiness and success.

4. Write in a journal.

No, you don't have to write a book or spend an hour doing this, and yes, shorthand, digital and bullet points are all acceptable. But the idea is that, in journaling, you give yourself a scheduled time to ruminate in a controlled way on whatever goals or concerns might have pulled your attention away through the day because you didn't address them. In this way, journaling both declutters your mind and focuses you. It also gives you practice connecting to your true voice, which is imperative if you are going to communicate authentically and effectively to others.

5. Connect with at least one other person you genuinely care about.

Maybe it's calling up your mom or best friend. Or maybe you don't get out of bed quite so fast if your partner is still there (wink, wink). Part of our strength and peace comes from knowing that we're not alone, that we influence others. When you commit to a few minutes with someone else, you reaffirm that knowledge and have a better sense of purpose and empathy. Those feel-good chemicals like oxytocin start flowing as you interact, too, leaving you happier, energized and better prepared to tolerate others as you work. It's a great reminder that people are the reason to work in the first place.

Mornings can be gross, especially if you have to start them before the sun. But it is possible to get at least some of that yuck out by actively allocating some time to connect to yourself, those around you and your intentions. These suggestions can help you do that. If you have other must-haves that work for you, use those, too, and leave them in the comments to inspire others!

Published on: May 14, 2018