I’ve been a self-help junkie for over 15 years now. One of the first books I read (actually listened to the audio) was called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by the late Stephen Covey.
This year I’ve been focusing a lot of my energy on habit change. For starters I read the excellent book, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhig. I’m also involved in two coaching groups. One of the recent topics in both groups was morning routines. Research shows that we have the most will power early in the morning. What we do in these hours is important. It sets the tone for the rest of the day.
I’ve learned so much about what the most successful people do to start their day; everyone from top executives to Olympic athletes to straight A students. I decided to make my own list for you. The following list is based on real research as well as what I’ve seen in the highest performers.
Do you rinse your cottage cheese?
In his classic book Good to Great, Jim Collins tells the story of Dave Scott. Scott won the Hawaii Ironman triathlon six times. In training, Scott would ride his bike 75 miles, swim 20,000 meters, and run 17 miles – on average, every single day. Dave Scott did NOT have a weight problem! Yet he believed that a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet would give him an extra edge. So, Dave Scott – a man who burned at least 5,000 calories a day in training – would literally rinse his cottage cheese to get the extra fat off. Now, there is no evidence that he absolutely needed to rinse his cottage cheese to win the Ironman; that’s not the point of the story. The point is that rinsing his cottage cheese was simply one more small step that he believed would make him just that much better, one small step added to all the other small steps to create a consistent program of superdiscipline.
Why do I share this? Because the people that get on in any area of life are those that decide what they want and do whatever it takes to get it.
OK back to my list. Which one of these might be “rinsing cottage cheese” for you?
1. Gratitude – The most successful people practice some sort of gratitude. Some literally make a list of 5 things they are thankful for each morning. Best-selling author of the 4 Hour Work Week Tim Ferris does this. We also know Oprah is a fan of this practice. I practice gratitude myself each day. Occasionally I make a list. Most days while sitting with the family for breakfast, we all share 3 things we are grateful for. This gets us all into a positive mindset, even my 4 year old.
2. Quiet time – Some just sit quietly. Some pray. Others meditate. Either way, the highest achievers generally practice some sort of quiet time upon waking. This helps prevent them from jumping right into reaction mode first thing in the morning.
3. They make their bed – This might come as a surprise to you. Here’s the deal though. Starting off your day by making the bed gives you a quick win, an accomplishment. This sets the tone for more accomplishments. There’s also the idea that how we do the little things is how we’ll do the bigger things. And as Navy Seal Adm. William McRaven said in his amazing commencement speech at the University of Texas, “…and if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made.:)”
4. Breakfast – Momma was right. Starting the day with a healthy breakfast will give you the energy you need for a positive and productive day. A couple of my favorite breakfast options are eggs and veggies, oatmeal with protein powder, or a healthy smoothie with high quality protein.
5. Guzzle water – Do you have trouble getting enough water in? Try what high achievers know. Drinking a glass or 2 of water first thing in the morning helps ensure you remain hydrated. A lack of water is one of the most common reasons for fatigue and lack of focus. And just like making the bed, it’ll give you a quick win. Start the day by chugging some water and sip throughout the day. I personally don’t allow myself any coffee or tea in the morning until I put down a solid 32 ounces of clean water!
6. Exercise – You know this had to be on the list. If possible get some exercise in the morning. It will help keep you focused. Breaking a sweat in the AM will leave you with a tremendous feeling of accomplishment. If you can’t always train in the AM, no worries. I don’t always myself. Just do it when you can (e.g. weekends) but make sure you get at least two strength training sessions in per week.
7. Make a list – Successful people run their day. They don’t let their day run them. Making a list related to your goal and checking off the tasks is a sure fire way to get from where you are to where you want to be.
8. Multi-vitamin – I know it’s supposed to be 7 habits but I wanted to “go the extra mile.” Taking a multi-vitamin each morning is an easy way to ensure you are getting the nutrients you need. It’s just that, an insurance policy.
Don’t get overwhelmed by the list. Simply choose the one you feel can offer the most benefit and add it to your morning schedule. Let me know how you make out.
Billy Hofacker – CEO and Owner of Total Body Boot Camp
TBBC TRANSFORMATION COACH, B.S., CSCS, FMS LEVEL 1