A ritual is defined as “an act or series of acts regularly repeated in a set precise manner”. What is a morning ritual then? If we choose to perform a set of activities specifically in the morning then – voila! We created a morning ritual.
I didn’t have a morning ritual up until lately. I was waking up doing the same old essentials (brushing my teeth, grabbing something to eat, getting dressed, and lately with the new addition to the family also preparing the milk and changing diapers) and then went off to work. I was completely fine with it.
The thing is that waking up to these sort of morning is not fun or productive. I was waking up exhausted after a night of little or no sleep (see baby remark above), eating something not healthy, if I ate at all, and leaving the house preparing myself mentally for traffic.
What are morning rituals?
A morning ritual is making the conscious decision of what activities to do during the morning. Rather than passively reacting to what happens around us and have the day control us, morning rituals shift the power to us and let us take control of our time (and life).
Waking up lazily from bed to the sounds of a crying baby that needs a change – that’s reacting. Waking up knowing exactly what your next hour is going to be like – that’s taking charge.
Morning rituals draw their power from the power of habit. The more we perform them, the easier it gets. So we if we consciously choose to integrate into our lives positive activities, this has the power to lead us to success.
All the successful people you know follow some sort of morning ritual.
Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin, and all around uber-entrepreneur starts his day at 05:00 am with exercising and spending time with his family.
Steve Jobs, the late Apple founder, used to start his day by asking himself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”
Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United states, had a full 3 hours starting from 5 am dedicated to “address powerful goodness” (infinite intelligence?) and ask himself a morning question: “what good shall I do today?”
Ariana Huffington, the founder of the Huffington post, starts her day with a 30 minutes meditation session and swears by it.
And the list goes on and on.
My morning ritual
I decided to try having my own ritual after I saw that I keep failing integrating meditation and book reading into my life. I was constantly trying to meditate every day, but since I got around to doing that only on late hours (as life kept interfering with my activity plans) every time I meditated I ended up falling asleep. Since I fell asleep, my plans to read a book before going to sleep also flew out the window.
A morning ritual seemed like the perfect solution. Here’s a way to utilize the power of habit to my advantage, and do the things I want to get done while helping my personal development in the process. Excellent!
I’m still polishing my morning ritual and tweaking it if I see that something isn’t working. The below list, however, is a pretty good one, and one I find myself following and enjoying
- Meditate – 10 minutes
- Listen to a motivational video – 13 minutes
- Writing down my long and short term goals – 2 minutes
- Writing down 5 things (at least) I’m grateful for – 5 minutes
- Reading a nonfiction book – 30 minutes
If you’ve paid attention thus far you might have noticed that one thing I don’t do is to wake up early to start all those activities.I found that having a small baby recently added to the family makes the entire waking up at 5 am really hard since his own waking hours are unpredictable. So what I do is wake up, take care of the essentials (see the beginning of the post) and after he is off to kindergarten and the wife is off for work, I start my morning ritual. Hey, nobody said it had to start at 5 am.
How to start your own morning ritual
All though the principles of starting your own morning ritual are easy to understand, it might be a bit tricky at first to set one up and more importantly, stick to it. There is a great program which is called morning ritual mastery that is designed to help in creating a morning ritual and sticking to it. So if you want help in getting started, that is an excellent place to do so.
With that being said, setting up a morning ritual can be done by following the below principles:
- Set up a place and a time to do so – Most people wake up early and complete their ritual before the day starts. That’s a great idea. I found that you could also do it by setting up a dedicated time at the beginning of the day, not necessarily right after waking up (I do it once the kid is in the kindergarten, and the wife is off to work)
- Schedule – Decide how much time to invest in each activity. This will give a time framework and will also help in achieving all of the activities
- Write it down at first – This will help with making it real, and sticking to it
- Stick to it – This might sound simplistic but it’s actually the hardest part. Take into account that habits take time to form. Nothing would happen if you miss a day or two as long as you consistently try and do it.
I found that different people have different rituals. It all depends on what it is you like to do and what works for you. So don’t be afraid to try something out, see if it sticks, and if not, just switch to something else or change timeframes, until it feels comfortable. After all, your ritual is you own.
Let me know in the comments below what is the ritual that works best for you.