August 14th, 2018
“Lose an hour in the morning, and you will spend all day looking for it.” — Richard Whately
Life is busy. It can feel impossible to move toward your dreams. If you have a full-time job and kids, it’s even harder.
If you don’t purposefully carve time out every day to progress and improve — without question, your time will get lost in the vacuum of our increasingly crowded lives. Before you know it, you’ll be old and withered — wondering where all that time went.
As Professor Harold Hill has said — “You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays.”
Getting Out Of Survival Mode
It does not matter how successful or unsuccessful you’ve been in the past. Confidence, clarity, and a sense of purpose are all things that need to be established, and re-established, daily.
Each and every day, you have the power to shift who you are, and who you’ve been.
For most people, their morning begins the same way it usually does, by being triggered almost immediately into a subconscious cycle. They pull out their phone, go through their apps, get out of bed on the same side, and then go about their day.
Their physical body has become their mind — and due to the repetition it has experienced, the body can go through the day in an automatic and subconscious way. Your body is a chemical system — and the chemicals your body releases produce emotions. Those emotions are tied to memories. So, when you pull out your smartphone out of habit, your body has taken over your mind, and it is seeking the dopamine chemicals that it has become habituated to. Your body becomes your mind because your physical body quite literally is your subconscious mind. And your subconscious mind makes up around 95% of your behavior.
This is why change can be so difficult. Change is always emotional. You have to decide, very intentionally, who you are going to be every single day. If you don’t make the decision who you will be and how you will act, then your body will go through it’s cycle seeking the same chemicals and emotional states that it has become accustomed to.
In order to become someone different, you must do something different, today. You must act in ways that are more reflective of the emotions you want to experience in your future, rather than living out the emotions of your past. The only way to do that is to wake up and intentionally decide who you will be and how you will act.
If you don’t start your day with intention, you are living in survival mode. Your time is, without question, moving faster than you want it to. You’re stuck in the past. You’re stuck living out the same experiences and emotions and patterns, over and over and over.
This is not a fun way to live life. Yet this is how most people are living in today’s heavily stimulated and addicting world. We are spending more and more time in subconscious and distracting cycles. More of our time is being taken from us because we’ve allowed our bodies and the external world to govern our lives.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can make the decision right here and now to create a new pattern. Rather than living in the past, you can create a new future. But there’s a catch. The past is known. The emotions you’ve become used to experiencing are known and predictable.
One of the primary reasons people stay in even life-threatening addictions is because they know the outcomes of their behavior. The human brain really likes being able to predict the future. Thus, people want their lives to be predictable even if what is predictable is absolutely painful and horrible and regretful.
If you want to become someone new, you have to do something where you cannot entirely predict the outcome. You have to do something different and new, and this will freak you out. When you do something new, your body will experience new emotions, and it will quickly seek its homeostasis. As Napoleon Hill said, “A good shock often helps the brain that has been atrophied by habit.”
If you’re willing to live with intention, and to make new decisions, there is a cost. That cost is emotional. Are you willing to deal with difficult emotions? Are you willing to move forward into your future without being able to fully predict the outcome?
According to some psychologists, fear of the unknown is the basis of all other fears. The unknown is what freaks us out, because we hate not being able to predict exactly how something will happen. Emotionally, this rocks our world. Based on loads of research in psychology, one of the primary attributes of successful people is having a high tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty.
Are you willing to make new decisions and live a less predictable life?
Are you willing to operate with faith and vision, rather than regret and being stuck in the past?
Are you ready to become a new person; one who lives their life based on what they are striving to create in their future?
If so, then this morning routine will transform your life. You will quickly learn that you can actually change your entire personality. Personality is not something that is or should remain permanent. Rather, your personality is based on the memories you have and the behaviors you repeatedly perform. Your personality is the decisions you make. If you make new decisions and thus experience new emotions and create new memories, then you will change your personality.
Who you are and who you become is up to you. But only if you get out of your emotional and subconscious pattern.
Optimizing Your Brain In The Evening And Morning
According to Benjamin Franklin, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” A life-changing morning routine doesn’t just happen. It must be designed and planned for.
According to Stanford Psychologist, BJ Fogg, design trumps willpower. If you simply take a few minutes to set up the environment, then the decision has already been made for you. For example, you can lay your clothes out the night before so you don’t have to think about what you’re going to wear. You can pull some dental floss out and lay it on the counter so you don’t have to make the decision whether to floss or not.
Your evening routine is about taking the decisions out of your morning. You want to wake up already knowing exactly what you’re going to do. You want to wake up with the confidence of a plan so you don’t have to exhaust willpower to get yourself going.
This Evening Routine Guarantees Success The Next Day
This is one of the most pivotal things you can learn — to set yourself up the night before. Your brain is generally more analytical at night and more creative in the morning. Your evening is the perfect time to take 5 or so minutes planning out your next day.
Your evening is also a really good time to reflect, relax, and recover. Here are the keys to a perfect evening routine to set your next day up for your success.
- Write In Your Journal About What Happened That Day
There are several reasons and ways to use a journal. Your journal can be place to record and account the experiences you’ve had and the things you’ve learned. The evening is a solid time to take 5–15 minutes writing down the events of your day. By doing this, you have a record and accounting of what you’ve done. This is an easy way to track key behaviors and spot themes in your life. Also during this evening journaling session, you can begin detailing your plans for the next day.
This type of journaling is best done on a computer using something like Google Docs or Word. The reason you want to use a computer for this type of journaling is that you probably type 5 times faster than you write by hand. Also, this type of journaling isn’t inherently creative, but more reflective, factual, and analytical.
Taking 5–15 minutes every night to go over all of the details of your day is very enlightening, and it is actually a profound way to also get your mind thinking and planning for the next day. While reviewing your day, you can relive and re-experience your whole day. This will create enormous feelings of gratitude. Also, while you’re reflecting on how your day went, you can immediately begin thinking about what could be done better.
It is during my evening journaling session, usually while documenting what I learned that day, that I get all of my best ideas for what I’ll be writing about the next day. Again, this is essential for someone who is creative, because waking up with a plan and an idea almost ensures you’ll be successful the next morning. Conversely, if you don’t have a plan or an idea, but have to start with a blank slate, this is heavily taxing to your willpower. Design trumps willpower everyday of the week.
Another use of your journal is to write your goals and dreams and ambitions in vivid detail. Doing this in the evening is powerful because it triggers your subconscious mind to ruminate and think about it all night while you sleep. However, the morning is most likely the best time to be thinking and writing in terms of your big picture dreams, because by mentally and emotionally envisioning those dreams, you trigger the emotions and experiences you intend to create in the future. Doing this first thing every morning is how you trigger yourself into the state of being you plan to become. This is how you live with purpose and intention. This is how you get out of the trap of the past. This is how you consciously design your subconscious, rather than having your subconscious control you.
- Make Brief Plans For What You’ll Do The Next Morning
“If you have more than three priorities, you don’t have any.” — Jim Collins
If you have a big to-do list the following day, you probably aren’t using your time in the best ways. In the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr. Stephen Covey explains the difference between activities that are urgent and those which are important. He actually created a useful matrix to explain how the most effective people use their time vs. how most people use their time.
The 4 categories of activities include:
- Important activities that are urgent (they must be done now or soon)
- Important activities that are not urgent
- Unimportant activities that are urgent
- Unimportant activities that are not urgent
Almost everything is a waste of time. The better you get with your time, the less you tolerate things that are not making an impact on your goals, values, and priorities. You get in life what you’re willing to tolerate. Most people tolerate spending huge amounts of their time on things that don’t inspire them because they aren’t clear on what they want. They aren’t clear on what they want because they haven’t begun acting right. Clarity and inspiration follow positive action.
What are the few things that are absolutely essential to making tomorrow a truly amazing day worth living?
What creative work do you want to do?
What experiences do you want to have?
Who do you want to connect to?
Don’t place any limitations on what you’re willing to do. Remember, you’re no longer living the predictable life you have in the past. You’re no longer going to be enslaved to the emotions that your body is currently addicted to.
Not anymore. Instead, you’re going to live life on your own terms. You’re going to create the future you want. You’re going to operate out of the emotions that inspire you. Therefore, you’re willing to embrace uncertainty and ambiguity. You’re willing to feel the fear and do it anyways. You’re willing to act in bold and powerful ways, knowing that the more bold and emotional the action, the more memorable and transformational the outcome.
During your evening journal session where you record what happened to you during your day, give yourself a score for the day on a 1–10 scale. Was your day a 6? 7? 3? 9? 10?
When planning your day, decide what would make the next day a 10.
It shouldn’t be a lot of things. Instead, it should involve the few essential things that mean the absolute most to you.
But again, personality should never become permanent, and your life should never be predictable from your past. Instead, you should continually be learning new things everyday. And true learning means you’ve reshaped your memories and have learned new and better ways to operate in the future. If you don’t see and operate differently in the world, then you didn’t truly learn something.
This Morning Routine Will Make You A Millionaire
If you’ve set yourself up the evening before, then your chances of winning the next day are optimal.
Design is far more powerful than willpower. You must be intentional. You need to set yourself up for successful. If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. Willpower is for people who are still uncertain what they want to do with their lives. Willpower reflects internal conflict, indecisiveness, and a lack of intentional design.
The following are essential ingredients to a morning routine that allows you to live every day of your life in a peak and heightened state. If you do these things every single day, your life will quickly and continuously evolve. You’ll continue to grow and transform at rocket-speed. While most of the world is living repetitive and predictable lives, you’ll be experiences new galaxies of growth regularly.
Here are the ingredients you want to start your day with. You’ll notice that these are mostly principle-based, rather than direct applications. The exact behaviors and choices are up to you based on the specific goals you’re pursuing. But the principles remain the same.
- Rise Early — ideally at or before 5AM.
- Super-hydrate — 20+ ounces of water immediately upon waking up.
- Connection — through prayer or meditation, you want to seek connection to yourself and universe.
- Visualization and emotion — you want to imagine your ideal future and you want to generate the emotions you will experience in that future. You also want to generate and fully experience gratitude for future events before they happen in order to trigger your brain and body to anticipate these future events. You attract what you are.
- Novelty and nutrition — the two things your brain needs to be optimal and remain young.
- First things first— which means you do your most creative and important work first thing in the morning. If you don’t, you’ll never know what true productivity means.
- Courage — every day, you need to do something different and outside your current comfort zone. Courage is the starting point of all growth and evolution. It takes courage to embrace the uncertainties of unpredictable outcomes and new behaviors.
“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”— Friedrich Nietzsche
Waking up early is not difficult for people who are driven by a mission and purpose in life. If you have something important to wake up for, you won’t want to hit the snooze button.
When you become a time-hacker, and begin to realize that you can expand your time 10X, 100X, and 1,000X, you take your mornings extremely seriously. Your mornings are where the magic happens. In fact, you’ll come to love your mornings so much that you’ll be tempted to wake up earlier and earlier and earlier — so that you can get more and more done.
People who know how to use their mornings get more done by noon than most people get done all week. If you learn how to use your morning, it won’t surprise you if you move the needle on an important project, exercise, and read an entire book before 10AM.
Waking up early is also easy if your evening before was truly restful and sweet. A recovered mind translates to a recovered body. Your evening is the easiest time to self-sabotage. If you begin falling apart in the evening and reverting to your subconscious and bodily addictions, then you won’t have powerful mornings.
Your evening routine really matters. It needs to be restful and rejuvenating. Your evenings must become more inspiring and serene. You will never master your mornings until you take control over your nights. When you learn to behave accordingly at night — and not fall into addictions — you will sleep well. When you sleep well, waking up early will not be hard. It will be a joy. You’ll jump right out of bed and immediately begin moving because you’re so exciting about the future you’re creating and you’re so exciting about the new and positive experiences you’ll be creating.
You’ll be acting as a agent rather than operating as an object. Most people are objects that are being acted upon by either the external world or their own body. When you become an agent, you act with intention and definiteness of purpose.
Super-Hydrate (Drink 20+ Ounces Of Water Immediately Upon Waking Up)
If you use an alarm clock, put the alarm or your phone on the opposite side of the room so you’re forced to get out of bed in order to stop the beeping. Setting up this type of alarm is a forcing function.
Forcing functions are all about designing the right environment so that desired behavior is the automatic and willpower becomes irrelevant. Design trumps willpower.
As soon as you get out of bed, walk to another room in your house and get a giant glass of water. You want to super-hydrate your body first thing in the morning to re-energize your brain and body.
Hydration is essential to a fully functioning brain. Also, the water will wake you up quickly and make you alert and ready to get moving.
BONUS: Take A 60 Second Ice-Cold Shower
Cold water immersion radically facilitates physical and mental wellness.When practiced regularly, it provides long-lasting changes to your body’s immune, lymphatic, circulatory and digestive systems that improve the quality of your life. It can also increase weight-loss because it boosts your metabolism.
A 2007 research study found that taking cold showers routinely can help treat depression symptoms often more effectively than prescription medications. That’s because cold water triggers a wave of mood-boosting neurochemicals which make you feel happy.
Connection — With Yourself And Universe
“I have so much to do today that I’m going to need to spend three hours in prayer in order to be able to get it all done.” — Martin Luther
It doesn’t matter how fast you think you’re moving, if you’re going in the wrong direction you might as well not be moving at all.
There is a huge emphasis these days on HUSTLING! However, productivity is not about doing a lot of things, but rather, about making tangible progress. Progress is made by making the right moves at the right times. It’s about learning from your mistakes and making better decisions.
Ryan Holiday once wrote in a blog post, “This is a fundamental irony of most people’s lives. They don’t quite know what they want to do with their lives. Yet they are very active.”
This happens way too often. We get caught in the thick of thin things. Far too late do we realize that in our mad rush, we were pursuing someone else’s goals instead of our own.
Spending even a few minutes of time in prayer and/or meditation does more than provide clarity to what you’re doing. These things open your mind up to possibilities you can’t get while busy.
While in meditation or prayer, you will get flashes on insight that allow you to make better decisions. Psychologists call this epiphany ability. The ability to generate epiphanies is something you can absolutely master in your life. Your goal is to begin connecting with the highest and best version of yourself that you can presently imagine.
Albert Einstein has said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
Stephen Covey similarly said, “Live out of your imagination, not your history.”
Your goal is to get into a highly creative, imaginative, and faith-based state. By faith, I’m taking about the conviction and resolve to bring into existence something you want to see happen. Don’t let what you currently see stop you from creating in your mind and heart something far more powerful. Prayer and meditation is how you begin tapping into your creative and imaginative powers.
Visualization And Emotion (And Experience Gratitude For Achieving Those Future Goals)
“According to research on mental rehearsal, once we immerse ourselves in that scene, changes begin to take place in our brain. Therefore each time we do this, we’re laying down new neurological tracks (in the present moment) that literally change our brain to look like the brain of our future. In other words, the brain starts to look like the future we want to create has already happened.
If we are truly engaged in this process with passion, we might begin to emotionally experience our future through thought alone. In fact, when we are feeling the emotions of our future — whether that’s gratitude, joy, freedom, abundance, enthusiasm, love, and so on — the creative thoughts in your mind can become the experience. As the body receives the chemical signals of these emotions, essentially the body is receiving the signal that the event has already occurred.” — Dr. Joe Dispenza
Research on visualization has found that mentally rehearsing something is not enough to reliably create that experience in the future. You need mental imagination and emotional stimulation in order for visualization to be reliable and predictable.
One of the most powerful emotional experiences is gratitude. It is the mother of all virtues. Research shows that gratitude enhances a person’s life in all areas — physical, emotional, relational, spiritual.
While you are envisioning the future you want to create, make that an emotional experience. Truly imagine what it would feel like to have the life you want. Imagine and experience the emotions of achieving certain goals, or having certain experiences. Express deep gratitude for having those experiences. Truly believe the experiences have already happened.
When you express and feel gratitude for the future experiences you are seeking to have, you are folding your future into your present. You are activating your brain and body to experience the chemical and emotional experiences of your future in the here-and-now.
Remember, memories are highly emotional. Moreover, your body and brain and chemically-producing organisms. Neurons that fire together, wire together. When you regularly experience the ideal emotions of your future, you rewire your brain and retrain your biology. Quite literally, you can shift your identity and biology through emotional visualization. Thus, your state of being changes. You then want to act and operate FROM THAT PLACE.
When you operate from the most powerful and anticipated emotions of your future, you act with far more power and intention. This is why you don’t want to check your smartphone in the morning. Instead, you want to put yourself in a place so that you are designing and living out your future, rather than re-creating the past.
A very powerful tool for visualizing is your journal. Unlike the journal you used the night before, hand-writing your morning journal with a pen and pad is beneficial to the brain. Writing with pen and pad activates your brain in different ways from typing. Additionally, writing by hand takes much longer than typing, which allows your mind to loosely wander as you write. This mind-wandering is important for creativity, because as your mind wanders, it will make connections in various parts of your brain. Thus, as you’re writing in your morning journal, you’ll become accustomed to getting many ideas through the writing process itself. Again, this is you developing your epiphany ability.
You can get to the point where you learn more through your own journal writing than you do reading books. Learning is all about making new connections in your brain. This is how your memory and worldview is reshaped. This form of journal writing is a potent tool for reshaping memory. You’ll be in a highly creative and spiritual place while writing in your journal, because you took a few minutes to meditate before you started journaling and visualizing.
Novelty And Nutrition (Two Things Your Brain Needs To Be Optimal and Remain Young)
According to brain and learning expert, Jim Kwik, the two things your brain needs first thing in the morning are novelty and nutrition.
Novelty is all about newness. Your brain does not do well doing the same thing over and over and over. Instead, your brain loves making new connections and expanding. In order for you to make new connections, you need to do things that are new, every single day.
One way that Jim fires his brain in new ways is by brushing his teeth in the morning with his left hand. This fires different neurons on the right side of his brain which aren’t normally fired.
Novelty and newness are essential to growth and success in life. If you’re not doing new things, then you’re stuck in subconscious and unhealthy patterns. You’re not evolving. Interestingly, according to research in psychology, the older people get, the less open they become to having new experiences. Instead, they seek the same things, the same people, and the same types of information that confirms their present biases and ways of life.
As will be discussed in the next point on creativity, in order to transform your identity, you need to continually be trying things you’ve never done before. This is how you also gain confidence. Thus, you should be continually working on projects that push you beyond your current abilities. Personality is predictable. If you want to change your identity and personality, you must act in new ways. Behavior is what shapes personality.
Regarding nutrition, Zig Ziglar has said, “Your input determines your outlook. Your outlook determines your output, and your output determines your future.” Your nutrition is the quality of your environment — food, places, people, information, experiences.
Your brain is plastic and flexible. You can transform your brain, and therefore, you can transform yourself. You simply need to make better decisions. You need to raise your standards and get better inputs and nutrition.
Create Something (Eat The Frog!)
“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” — Sir Ken Robinson
You’re not rewarded in life for what you know. Instead, you’re rewarded in life for what you create. You must take your knowledge and experiences and do something with them. You need to find an creative outlet that allows you to build a body of work.
In order to do truly creative work, you must embrace the unknown. As Seth Godin said, “If you’re willing to do something that might not work, you’re closer to becoming an artist.” Creativity is highly personal and emotional. Good art is honest. And art can be anything — it can be a business, it can be writing, it can be coding. It needs to be something that is personal to you.
You have to be willing to try something beyond what you’ve ever done before. If you wake up every day and begin doing highly creative work toward your biggest dreams and ambitions, you’ll begin living a rare and incredible life.
In order to make millions of dollars and stop living the 9–5, you must become a creator. You need to become a master at what you do. The morning time is the best time to creatively work, since your brain is most creative first thing in morning and your mind isn’t muddled by all the happenings of the day.
Mark Twain once wrote, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” That quote has become a principle that many successful people apply. The idea is simple: put first things first. Do the hardest and most creative thing first thing in the morning. If you don’t do your most important work first thing in the morning, you probably will never get it done. The day will begin to take on whatever form it does, and you’ll be left with another day stuck in the same place you were before.
If, however, you do eat that frog every single day, you’ll begin to see something truly magical happen in your life. You’ll begin living a creative and harmoniously passionate life. You’ll begin to dream bigger and imagine how you can turn your art into business, such that you can make money by creating value for people in the most personal way you possibly can.
Ideally, you should try to spend at least 90 minutes per morning working on a creative project that directly translates to your ideal future and the dreams you’re trying to live. If you can give yourself more time, all the better. But shoot for 90 focused minutes of creation. Again, your phone should still be on airplane mode. You should not have checked email or social media.
Do Something Courageous!
“A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.” — Tim Ferriss
Courage is the starting point of all growth and evolution. It takes courage to embrace the uncertainties of unpredictable outcomes and new behaviors. According to Darren Hardy, you can be a coward 99.9305556% of the time (to be exact). You only need to be courageous for 20 seconds at a time.
Twenty seconds of awkwardness or fear is all you need. If you courageously confront fear for 20 seconds every single day, before you know it, you’ll be in a different socio-economic and social situation.
Make that call.
Ask that question.
Pitch that idea.
Post that video.
Jack Canfield once said, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” And he’s right. But I’m going to take it one step further. Pain, discomfort, shock, boredom, impostor syndrome, awkwardness, fear, being wrong, failing, ignorance, looking stupid: your avoidance of these feelings is stopping you from a life beyond your wildest imagination.
Wealth, optimal health, incredible relationships, deep spiritual maturity are all available to you. But you have to pay the price to have these things. The primary obstacle in your way is how you feel about what you need to do to have these things.
If you do something courageous every single day, you will fail a lot. But failure is not the opposite of successful. Failure is essential to successful. Failure is learning. Failure is evolving. Failure is stepping outside of the predictability of your subconscious conditioning and creating a life of passion and purpose.
You need to take a lot of shots. It’s better to be prolific than perfect. Take shots. Fail. Try.
“Watch your thoughts; for they become words. Watch your words; for they become actions. Watch your actions; for they become habits. Watch your habits; for they become character. Watch your character for it will become your destiny.” — Frank Outlaw
It does not matter where you are in your life right now. You can make a change. However, you must begin acting as an agent rather than operating as an object.
You must make the decision. You must do something that is unpredictable to the past you’ve been living. You must face the emotional void of uncertainty.
You need to begin living your evenings better. You’ve got to unplug yourself from the matrix of social media and information. When you begin having serene and incredible evenings, you’ll be living more presently and happily than you ever have you before.
You’ll begin living better days, and recording the happenings of those days every night on your computer. Over a year or so, you’ll have thousands of typed pages of history typed up. Your grandkids will thank you.
You can transform your identity. You can become a new person. You can live at a much higher state. You can create and be and do at a much higher state. You can attract the most incredible people and experiences to you. Quite literally, you can attract any person into your sphere that you want to. You can develop mentorships and collaborations with your heroes. I’ve done this myself, many times. It’s truly incredible. But in order to do so, you must live by design rather than by default.
Confidence is the byproduct of prior performance. Success is what creates confidence. Therefore, if you act powerfully in the morning, you’ll have confidence which will allow you to make better decisions in your evening. However, in order to have confidence the next morning, you need to actually live well the evening before. You can’t fall into subconscious self-sabotage. Make better choices during the morning so you can make better choices at night, and then make better choices at night so you can make better choices the next morning.