Life is busy. It can feel impossible to move forward sometimes.
From having a full-time job to working on your relationships with your loved ones, how are you actually meant to progress and improve in other areas your life?
The truth is, if you don’t purposefully carve out time every day to improve yourself, your time will get lost in the vacuum of our increasingly busy lives.
Before you know it, you’ll be lying on your deathbed wondering where all the days 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.”
How to rethink your life
To avoid getting stuck in a rut, we need to rethink our approach to life.
We need to get back to the fundamentals and only focus on what’s important in our life.
Sadly, many people are too focused on the trivial and nonessential. This leaves no time to build something meaningful.
In this current age, we actually have the choice and power to live on our own terms.
One generation ago, it was social and cultural to live on other people’s terms.
However, with the interconnectedness of the world and infinite knowledge at our fingertips, we can decide to live with intention and take responsibility for ourselves.
You get to decide.
With this short morning routine, your life will quickly change. It’s only 7 points long, but if you follow it, you can be happy again and more productive.
1) Plan your day the night before
What you do the night before matters just as much as what you do each morning.
The method you use to plan your day doesn’t matter. I love to-do lists; other people prefer calendars.
There is also the Ivy Lee Method:
“Finish each day by writing the 5 most important things you want to get done tomorrow and start each day by working those 5 things. You can also schedule those 5 things on your calendar. It doesn’t matter as long as those 5 things get done.”
What matters is that you figure out what you want to get done the next day, you write it down, and then you know exactly what you’re going to be doing.
It reduces procrastination and keeps your head clear. It also forces you to think about what you’re priorities are.
You can be flexible, but as long as you complete the tasks that are important to you, your productivity will skyrocket.
Also, keep in mind that this is a great way to eventually complete big goals. If every day you achieve a small step that gets you closer to finishing your big goal, you’ll eventually get there.
2) Meditation to facilitate clarity
What you focus on matters and when your brain is scattered, it doesn’t really know what to do.
Meditation is an excellent practice to clear the mind and focus.
According to Dr. Herbert Benson, director emeritus of the Harvard-affiliated Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine, 20 minutes is enough to experience benefits from meditation.
Dr. Herbert Benson says using meditation to create a relaxation response is important. The “relaxation response” is a deep physiological shift in the body that’s the opposite of the stress response.
“The idea is to create a reflex to more easily bring forth a sense of relaxation.”
“Mindfulness meditation is just one of a smorgasbord of techniques that evoke the relaxation response.”
According to Harvard Health Blog, the relaxation response can “help ease many stress-related ailments, including depression, pain, and high blood pressure.
How do you practice meditation?
Here are two simple steps:
1) Choose a calming focus. This could be your breath, a sound (“Om”), a positive word (like “relax” or “peace”), or a phrase (like “I am relaxed”), or an object (like a candle).
2) Let go and relax: Don’t worry if you’re struggling to maintain focus. When your mind wanders, just take a deep breath and gently return your attention to your focus.
After doing meditation in the morning, you’ll have a clearer idea of what you want to achieve that day, without feeling like your mind is muddled.
[To dive deep into meditation techniques to help you de-stress and live more in the moment, check out my new no-nonsense guide to using Buddhism for a better life here].
3) Hard physical activity
There’s evidence that exercise is beneficial for not only your body but your mind too.
Yet, according to recent research, only one-third of American men and women engage in regular physical activity.
If you want to be healthy and happy, you need to get in the habit of exercising.
Whether it’s the gym or a brisk walk, get your body moving. Exercise has been suggested to possibly help in reducing anxiety, stress, and depression.
Any exercise is good for you, but aerobic exercise might be best for your body and brain in the morning.
Fat oxidation occurs if you do aerobic exercise before breakfast.
And research shows that aerobic running or swimming helps to lift your mood and clear your mind. It also strengthens the heart and lungs.
According to Harvard Health Blog, aerobic exercise is better for your brain compared to resistance training:
“In a study done at the University of British Columbia, researchers found that regular aerobic exercise, the kind that gets your heart and your sweat glands pumping, appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning. Resistance training, balance and muscle toning exercises did not have the same results.” – Harvard Health Blog
4) Consume 30 grams of protein
Tim Ferriss and professor emeritus of nutrition at the University of Illinois recommend consuming at 30 grams of protein for breakfast.
When you wake up, your body needs the power-building nutrient because your muscles have been breaking down protein during the night.
Protein-rich foods keep you full for longer than to other foods and eating protein first decreases your white carbohydrate cravings. These are the type of carbs that get you fat.
Tim makes four recommendations for getting adequate protein in the morning:
1. Eat at least 40 percent of your breakfast calories as protein.
2. Do it with two or three whole eggs (each egg has about 6 grams of protein).
3. If you don’t like eggs, use something like turkey bacon, organic pork bacon or sausage, or cottage cheese.
4. Or, you could always do a protein shake with water.
For more inspirational articles on self-improvement, like Hack Spirit on Facebook:
5) Take a cold shower
Tony Robbins jumps into a 57 degree Fahrenheit swimming pool.
Because cold water has been found to radically facilitate 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.
(To learn about 15 science-backed benefits of regularly taking a cold shower, click here)
6) Listen to or read uplifting content
If you want to be productive and successful in life, you need to be constantly learning. It is common for the world’s most successful people to read and read and read.
If you take 15 to 30 minutes every morning to read uplifting and instructive information, over a long period, you would have read hundreds of books. You’ll see the world more wisely and differently.
7) Review your life vision
Write your goals – short and long term. Taking just a few minutes to read these goals every day puts your life into perspective and whether or not you’re on the right path.
Each day will feel purpose driven. If you follow a simple pattern, you can accomplish all of your goals, no matter how big they are.
(If you’re looking for a structured, easy-to-follow framework to help you find your purpose in life and achieve your goals, check our eBook on how to be your own life coach here).
1) Plan your night the day before: If you plan what you’re going to achieve that day, it’s much more likely that you’ll actually accomplish what you’re aiming to get done.
2) Meditate: 20 minutes is enough to experience benefits from meditation. It will clear your mind and help you focus.
3) Exercise for at least 20 minutes: Any exercise is good for you, but aerobic exercise might be best for your body and brain in the morning.
4) Eat 30 grams of protein: When you wake up, your body needs the power-building nutrient because your muscles have been breaking down protein during the night.
5) Have a freezing, cold shower: 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.
6) Listen or read informative and wise content: If you take 15 to 30 minutes every morning to read uplifting and instructive information, over a long period, you would have read hundreds of books and learned a hell of a lot.
7) Review your life vision: Understanding your goals – short-term and long-term – helps you stay clear and focused on what’s important to you.