beautiful view of Lake Muskoka

The Difference a Good Morning Routine Makes

Today, I want to share a story about what happened to my progress, financial and otherwise, when I stopped paying attention to my morning routine.

Have you ever gone through a period of time in which your to-do list items never seem to get done?

Important tasks that you know will move the needle for you languish on that piece of paper or in your electronic calendar while time appears to evaporate.

It’s so frustrating!

I’ve just had that happen and as usual, the universe stepped in to give me a brick-to-the-forehead message: “Hey Doris, you’re missing the obvious. Wake up!”

Here’s my Before & After story in the hope that it helps you get back up to full speed as summer draws to an end.


What gives?

About a year ago, I heard an interview with Rachel Hollis in which she explained that the only way she could build her seven-figure business, including publishing multiple books, heading a team, and maintaining a large social media platform, was to get up at 5 am before her kids, her (now ex) husband, and the rest of the world started to make demands on her time.

I had heard several male influencers say the same thing from a different angle – get your head in the game, accomplish more before the sun gets up, blahblahblah – but the message didn’t stick until Rachel talked about how difficult it is to juggle being a mom, wife, and business owner all at once. This was how she pulled it off since, as she pointed out, you can’t manufacture more time during convenient moments.

BINGO. That’s what I needed – two solid hours of life to myself, which was neatly backed up by Cal Newport’s research demonstrating the importance of having consecutive hours of focus time to accomplish what he calls Deep Work.


I’m in – sort of

If the very thought of getting up at 5 am makes you choke on your coffee, I get it. Years ago, when my girls were toddlers, I joked that the only thing that would get me out of bed that early was a sick child, a house on fire, or an earthquake.

No earthquake, no house on fire, no child in distress —> no can do.

It was inconceivable to give up golden sleep time to get up at 5 am. What kind of person does that on purpose?

As it happens, I do.

It took a while to get my head on board – it’s always about the mindset, isn’t it? – and to use a concept from behavioral science called environmental “intelligence” to set up my space so it was easy-ish to get up.

After a month of experimentation, I did it – I got up every business day at 5 am and my productivity skyrocketed. I was on fire. My business results exploded.


And then it stopped

Enter Covid-19.

When the pandemic hit, I went into overdrive, working longer days and many weekends. I published The Ultimate Guide to Thriving Financially During the Pandemic and I hosted free webinars to guide people through the financial upheaval of the worldwide closures; which was great, except that my routine soon went to hell in a hand basket.

I stopped paying attention to all the habits that had led to my success:

I went to bed later.

As a result, I woke up later.

I exercised less, justifying this significant change as “only temporary”.

Most critically, my cherished morning routine eventually whittled away to nothing. I told myself I didn’t have the time; that I needed to focus on other priorities.

Enter the unending to-do list, stalled results, and a whack-ton of frustration.


OK Robin, I get it

A few days ago, we were driving back from our summer holidays. The girls were in their own headset-enabled musical world, so my husband and I decided to listen to several podcasts, one of which was an interview with Robin Sharma of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari fame.

Guess what? It turns out he’s written a booked called The 5 Am Club: Own Your Morning, Elevate Your Life.

I’m not kidding. This is the podcast my husband pulled up for us to listen to, on a whim, without knowing what was going through my head.

As I drove, I listened to Robin talk about the five rituals that predict success, the first of which is the ritual of early rising. Here’s his complete list:

1. The ritual of early rising
2. The ritual of strategic time-blocking
3. The ritual of over-delivering
4. The 60-minute student
5. The ritual of private reflection

I was a walking case study for his list.


My morning routine

Before Covid-19 hit, my routine consisted of the following:

– Get up at 5 am
– Have a green drink
– Move – walking, stretching, yoga; 20-30 minutes
– Meditate – 20 minutes
– Journal – Review my goals and healthy mindset scripts. Reflect on potential impediments and plan to address them. (I time-blocked my day the night before.)
– Read a book for growth – business, investing, mindset, behavioral economics, psychology, finance. Minimum of 30 minutes.
– Have breakfast with my family

What does Robin recommend?

Wake up at 5 am.
Move for 20 minutes.
Meditate for 20 minutes.
Spend 20 minutes on growth (journalling or reading).

Isn’t that interesting?

I had consciously developed an effective set of rituals for myself over the past twelve months, then let many of them fall by the wayside through benign neglect.


What Nelson Mandela said

I’m grateful for the timely reminder of the importance of having a morning routine that supports me physically, mentally, and professionally.

I’m reminded of Nelson Mandela’s quote: “I never lose. I either win or learn.” 

This has been a summer of learning for me. I failed to maintain the healthy routine I had consciously created to achieve my goals, but it didn’t result in failure; it resulted in learning.

What a valuable summer it’s been!

As a result, I am committed to making my morning routine a non-negotiable part of my day. Here’s why: I’ve been back less than a week and in that time I have accomplished more than I did in the entire month prior to that! Credit to my morning routine.

I hope my story inspires you to create your own series of morning rituals to promote health, joy, and achievement.

What does your morning routine look like? Please share below in the comments section.

If you don’t have a routine, today is the perfect time to create it. What will you do to ensure that you start every day primed for health, joy, and accomplishment?

Do yourself a favour: Journal the results. In a year’s time, you’ll be astonished at what you manage to accomplish and how much better you feel. I can’t wait to hear your story!

BTW, the photo in this post shows the view I saw many mornings during my holiday when I’d sit, stare at the water and think, “I wonder what’s going on?” As you now know, the answer was on its way. I’m grateful for the long drive and Mark’s fortuitous choice of podcasts.

Please share this post with someone you love who could use a dose of inspiration to develop an empowering morning routine.

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