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How To Create the Perfect Morning Routine for You

There are a couple of hard truths that I’ve had to accept about myself.

  1. I’ll never be able to spell ‘synonym’ or ‘definitely’ without using spell check. (Yes, quite brave of me to be a writer.)

  2. I’ll never exist in my favorite fantasy books. This one’s a real bummer.

  3. My day goes undoubtedly better when I adhere to my morning routine.

I definitely used to be a ‘roll out of bed and brush my teeth in the shower because I’m running late’ kinda gal. I’ve always referred to myself as a ‘night owl’, and as a result, I didn’t really think I’d ever be able to do the whole ‘wake up without snoozing my alarm 15 times’ thing.

I read Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life… And Maybe The World by Admiral William McRaven USN, Retired. As implied in the title, McRaven writes about the importance of making your bed in the morning because it allows you to start your day with one task already completed. The momentum of that accomplishment can fuel you into another task completed, then another, then another.

My McRaven'ed bed

In my family, ‘make your bed’ has been coined ‘McRaven your bed’ because of the profound impact the book has had for us. It was reading Make Your Bed that finally motivated me to create a morning routine and stick with it.

As I tried to design my morning routine, there was quite a bit of trial and error. I constantly looked at the habits of people I admired or respected in order to replicate their routines. When I wasn’t able to sustain a lifestyle filled with other people’s habits, I felt frustrated with myself.

I eventually had to come to terms with the fact that creating a morning routine had to be especially designed for myself and my innate tendencies. I was continually trying to willpower my way into an extremely unrealistic routine in the hopes that I would eventually begin to love it. I’m now of the opinion that willpower doesn’t have a place in my life until after 11 AM. Gone are the days of me trying to strong arm myself into waking up and going for a run at 5 AM because I thought it would sound impressive to tell people that I run at 5 AM…

Outlining my morning routine and trying to convince you to give it a try would perpetuate the challenges I faced when beginning this journey, so instead, I’ll outline the factors I considered when making my morning routine.

Criteria for my AM routine:

  • Something I look forward to doing

  • Something to set my intention for the day

  • Something to prepare me physically, mentally, and emotionally/spiritually

Something to look forward to:

This one is key! Willpower and rolling up your sleeves to do something you hate both have their place in the world, but you will never be able to stick with a daily routine if it’s something you wake up dreading to do. It’s so important to have something you do in the mornings that brings you joy.

For me, it’s coffee.

For the longest time I would try to wake up and immediately drink a glass of water. I always see the benefits of drinking water when you wake up in articles all over the internet. For whatever reason, it’s just something that I really don’t like to do. I have my daily water intake goals and I’ve finally stopped forcing myself to chug water right when my alarm goes off!

Instead, I wake up and immediately make myself a cup of iced coffee. Then I’ll get back in bed and drink it while I give my dog, Athena, her morning belly rubs (it’s a very crucial step of her morning routine). It’s always my favorite part of my day and it makes waking up a little bit easier to do because I have something to

immediately look forward to.

Athena waiting for her morning belly rubs

Something to set your intention:

Another crucial criterion for your morning routine should be having an activity where you can set your intention for the day. Having an opportunity to intentionally make daily goals will sharpen your focus and allow you to remember what you are working towards when you hit an obstacle.

It’s my dream to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. It’s a goal that I hold very close to my heart, and I even feel hesitant to share it publicly like this because frankly, letting people in on a dream can be scary and vulnerable. I have a sticky note that’s on my wall at eye level above my desk that reads ‘AT thru-hike’. Every morning when I sit down to write my intention for the day, I’m met with the sticky note. It’s a reminder for me to incorporate in one small daily task that I can do to help get me closer to achieving my dream.

Before the sticky note and before my daily intention setting, I often let a week or two go by before I would experience a pang of anxiety and guilt as I realize that I haven’t done anything to get me closer to hiking the trail.

Whatever your monthly, yearly, or lifetime goals are – being intentional and taking small steps to inch your way towards them everyday both serve as a way to get closer to your goal and keep your passion and excitement alive.

Even outside of major goals, setting your daily intention can help sharpen your focus and improve your productivity. Isn’t it so much easier to go to a workout class after work when you’ve already made up your mind that morning to go?

Here are some suggestions for different ways to set your daily intention:

  • Write a to-do list

  • Put sticky notes on your bathroom mirror

  • Sketch your daily goals

  • Call a family member or friend and tell them what you plan to accomplish that day

  • Recite your goals out loud as your drive to work

  • Email them to yourself

Something to address your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs:

The last aspect to consider when creating your morning routine is incorporating activities to get you physically, mentally, and emotionally/spiritually ready for the day.

Physically: This doesn’t have to be a workout! There are many other methods to do something physical in the morning such as:

  • Going for a walk as you drink your morning coffee

  • Stretching

  • Working out

  • Playing fetch with your dog in the yard

  • Taking a cold shower

Mentally: Stimulating yourself mentally can aid in waking up and getting you in a headspace to get things done! Some potential methods:

  • Doing the Wordle

  • Reading for 10 minutes

  • Playing a game of chess on your phone

  • Doing the NYT daily crossword mini

  • Listening to music

Emotionally/Spiritually: As someone who strives to stay in tune with my emotions, setting some time aside every morning and giving myself the space to take care of my emotional and spiritual needs helps me stay aligned throughout the proceeding day. Some potential methods:

  • Journaling

  • Reciting an affirmation

  • Praying

  • Reading a devotional

  • Performing a religious practice

One of my favorite quotes is:

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing.” - Annie Dillard

Intention is so incredibly powerful. Days can sometimes feel long, but the months and years fly by. You can change your life and achieve your dreams, and that reality begins when you put in the work and intention each day.

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