Success starts in the morning. From Oprah to Jeff Bezos and Kim Kardashian, many of the most successful people in the world account for their fortune with how they spend their precious morning hours. From strict no-phone policies to full body workouts, they cast their non-negotiable rituals as the make-or-break elements for a productive day. Here, we examine the power of the morning routine and show you how to carve out time at the start of your day to create your very own ‘magic hour’.
The average habits of successful people as reported by My Morning Routine
Smile in the mirror. Do that every morning and you’ll start to see a big difference in your life.
While only 10% of the population are considered to be morning larks, online resource My Morning Routine’s have interviewed almost 300 of the world’s top entrepreneurs, public figures and creatives, to reveal an average wake up time of 6.30am. It could be fair to suggest that natural early risers have an automatic advantage in a culture that thrives on the 9-5 workday, but what is worth noting is how these individuals make use of their time. The world’s most successful individuals use their early morning hours as an opportunity to practice rituals that may otherwise get in the unpredictability of daily life. Dismissing the urge hit snooze or respond to their emails while still lying in bed, they dedicate their mornings to exercise, meditation and reflection.
We need to understand how the mind works and what it’s telling you.
For many early risers, meditation is at the top do of their list. As media mogul Oprah explains, one of her main abilities to manage a multi-billion empire comes down a strict 20 minute of meditative practice each morning. For her, the meditation guarantees that “even in the daily craziness that bombards us from every direction, there is—still—the constancy of stillness.”
Incorporating such moments of stillness into your day has been shown to have significant effects on our ability to function on both a physiological and psychological level. Neuroscientists found that consistent practice of mindful meditation modifies and improves subsystems of attention. In layman’s terms, it increases our ability to perform activities with greater efficiency and attention to detail.
On a physiological level, The American Heart Association have shown that the practice of transcendental meditation has the power to reduce blood pressure, while other studies have shown it to help us achieve a state of ‘restful alertness’. In such situations, meditative practice helps to soothe the sympathetic nervous system that is affected by tension and anxiety and activate the system in our body that works to slow down our heart and breathing rate, allowing us to take on the challenges of the day with a greater level of clarity and inner stillness.
If you get up in the morning and think the future is going to be better, it is a bright day. Otherwise, it’s not.
Following meditation, exercise consistently appears as a key component of a productive day. Not only does scheduling a fitness session at the start of the day help to cultivate consistency (as you avoid the risk of neglecting it in preference of other responsibilities), but it allows you to reap more of the benefits that regular movement has to offer. During his time in office, former US president Barack Obama insisted waking up at least two hours before his first scheduled meeting to ensure he had time to fit in his daily work out regimen that often included a basketball session, treadmill run, and weight training.
While we are no stranger to the fact that exercise has the power to improve our overall health, boost our metabolism and increase energy levels morning exercise, in particular, has been shown to improve cognitive focus, abilities and overall mental health throughout the day. Researchers at the University of Cambridge have proposed that exercise is considered as a viable means of treating depression and anxiety as well as improving mental wellbeing in the general public. Making time for a workout in the morning can transform the attitude and competency with which we begin the day, boosting our levels of productivity while benefiting attention to our physical health.
After reviewing 83 studies on self-control, researchers at the University of Nottingham and the National Institute of Education in Singapore Science found that our levels of willpower deplete throughout the day. This means during morning hours we are at our most determined state of mind. As such, it is little surprise that many successful figures use their magic morning hours as an opportunity to set their intentions for the day.
Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington starts her day by taking a deep breath, expressing gratitude for being alive and saying her intentions out loud. Unlike goal setting, identifying our daily intentions involves outlining the ideal behaviours or attitudes we would like to see ourselves express. For example, ‘today, I will approach everyone with empathy and understanding”. By doing so in the morning, when our willpower is at its highest, you can help to ensure that decisions and actions are made that align with our desired approach to the world. Alternatively, you can choose to keep it simple and, like the late Steve Jobs, start your day by looking in the mirror and asking yourself: ‘’If today was the last day of my life, would I be happy with what I’m about to do today?’