Setting Yourself up for Success – your morning routine
The way you start your day can set you up for the rest of your day. This is the major premise behind Robin Sharma’s 5 am Club and many other morning routines.
Personally, I have been practicing this for over a year now, and it has certainly transformed my life in a multitude of ways. Below is an outline of the morning routine, the 4 interior empires and the 20/20/20 formula to set yourself up for success each day.
Now, I know, you may be reading this (if you got past the mention of 5 am!) thinking, “there is nothing that would get me up at 5 am”, or may be the thought crossed your mind, “Is there a 5am, I’ve never seen it!” I was exactly the same. The thought of extending my already busy, full on, often exhausting day was not my idea of fun. I read the information and decided to try it – for 66 days. I have not looked back and in fact wonder how my life would have looked if I had started this 10 years ago. Please suspend judgement and keep reading. This is not a fixed formula and you can massage it to fit your lifestyle.
A great morning routine can be the bedrock of stability in a constantly changing world. With so many distractions and demands on our time, a morning routine maximises the positive influence you have on your day.
Your brain chemistry is different in the mornings. You wake with an increase of dopamine (“feel good” hormone & neurotransmitter) and higher levels of serotonin, which regulates your mood as well as your sleep, appetite, digestion, learning ability, and memory.
You also have the greatest willpower first thing in the morning and this is related to your circadian rhythm. Think of it as a bucket of willpower you receive each day. It is refilled while you are sleeping and is fullest when you wake. This makes important choices and decisions easier in the morning and as the bucket slowly empties each day, makes decisions harder in the evening. This explains why many people find it easy to eat nutritious food in the mornings and by the late afternoon are digging into the chocolate chip biscuits. If you want to change your habits, the morning is the easiest time to do this.
Creating a morning ‘ritual’ also sets your brain up for success as each time you perform a positive task you are rewarded by dopamine. Getting up and making your bed straight away, gives you a dopamine hit. Doing something to better your life each morning will give you that dopamine boost.
While 5am may still sound out of reach, Jeff Sanders, author of The 5AM Miracle says
“Firstly, 5 am is a block of time each morning when life is calm, serene, and peaceful. In the early morning hours there are few distractions, the birds are just beginning to sing, and life moves at a slower pace. Secondly, 5 am is a symbol for taking full control of your life.”
An important part of developing this peace, focus and clarity in the morning is to leave your phone, emails and social media off until you have finished. These cause instant distraction, using up valuable ‘band-width’ in your brain.
The 4 Interior Empires
Meditation instructor and self help author, Camille Sacco suggests, “Your outer world is a direct reflection of your inner world. If you want to change the world you see, start working on your inner world.” Robin Sharma promotes his 4 interior empires: Mindset, Heartset, Healthset and Soulset and the need to work on all four is paramount to creating and living your best life.
Mindset is about your psychology. It is about self-knowledge and understanding as well as learning. Focus on your goals and positive outcomes in your day and life. Having a growth mindset, popularised by Carol Dweck, means being open to new learning, welcoming feedback to cause growth, being inspired by the success of others and knowing it is your effort and attitude that determines your abilities. Spend time being curious, reading challenging books with differing viewpoints, having inspiring conversations with mentors and surrounding yourself with people who help you grow.
Heartset is looking after your emotional wellbeing. Here is where you focus on ways to express yourself, practice gratitude, prayer and kindness. This is about celebrating yourself and your world. Yoga, deep tissue massage, and being more joyful through play may deepen your heartset. Spend time in nature, savouring and noticing the beauty around you. Volunteer to a cause that matters to you and be generous to fill your heart. Engaging in activities such as forgiveness and journaling negative emotions can also assist in your emotional wellness.
Healthset is about looking after your physicality, your body. It has often been said that your body is your temple and treating it with love and respect is 25% of your success formula. This means working out, drinking water, eating well, ensuring your get adequate rest and have regular massages. I love the idea I came across recently that said, “Get fit to be of use.” Looking after your healthset is not about the ‘ego’ of looking great or being a super model, it is about increasing your fitness, energy and stamina so you can actively work on your life’s purpose, or positivity contribute on this planet.
Soulset refers to your spirituality or your deep ‘self’ connection. This is when we reflect on your life’s purpose, values and perhaps spend some time in solitude. Meditation, journaling and finding gratitude each day also assist in feeding you soul. Connecting to a vision or mission larger than yourself is important. Reflecting and then actioning on ways you can make a difference to humanity and simplify your life are all part of developing soulset.
The 20/20/20 formula
So what do you actually do at 5 am? It is a common question I am asked when explaining about my morning routine. It enact Robin’s 20/20/20 formula. Known as the ‘Victory Hour’ it looks like this.
The first 20 minutes is about exercise to help your body wake up. This is usually something sweaty to decrease any remaining cortisol in the body (the stress and fear hormone) and releases BDNF, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which grows, repairs and restores brain cells. The second 20 minutes is for heartset & soulset. Take time to reflect, plan, journal, pray, meditate. Anything that helps you to search and find inspiration and purpose. I reflect on what I will do each day to nourish myself, strengthen my relationship with my husband, connect fully with my children and plan my top 5 work goals or tasks for the day. Finally the third 20 minutes is devoted to learning and growing. This is when I read, listen to a podcast, watch an educational video or TED talk. I truly believe that genius is not the realm of genetics, it’s the realm of deep study. Choose something you would like to learn or improve and spend time each day learning about this. As Robin says, “Small daily acts of execution over time, lead to stunning results.”
As I said at the start, this is not set in concrete. If 5 am is not an option do it at 6 or 6.30am. There is something s peaceful about 5 am though! It is about carving out time for yourself, making your inner life a priority and doing the deliberate practice. I have found it is OK to miss a day, but not two days in a row. If you are looking for higher focus, better productivity and more fulfilment in your life – give it a go!