What are some goals you have sitting on the back burner, untouched, collecting dust?
You’re probably waiting for your arrival to “Someday Isle” when you can work on that goal, that dream, and at the same time you’re no where closer to that accomplishment. The perfect time to start your journey does not exist. Now is the time you should pursue those goals if they are worth pursuing in the first place.
That’s exactly the situation I faced myself. I want to read more books. I want to spend time in prayer and studying my Bible every day…can’t accuse me of never reading THE book that is foundational to my beliefs. I want to spend more time in silent prayer and reflection, journal, write a book, practice and even master new skills, exercise and so on. I also want to be plugged in with my family, and am tired after a full day at the office. Heck, it’d be nice to just be able to eat a relaxing breakfast and enjoy a cup of coffee before heading out the door to commute to work! Sound familiar?
What If I Had Two Extra Hours a Day?
I came across a book titled The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod through Amazon Prime’s relentless recommendation on books I may like. So, I downloaded it and read it within 24 hours. That is a record for me by the way. I’m a slow reader.
It made total sense to me. All these habits I wanted to build and accomplish every day could be done if I was willing to wake up two hours earlier than my regular wake-up time. Well, duh! The problem was I had tried this before only to give up within a few days. There was a lack in structure and purpose to waking up, so why not just sleep in?
If this attempt at building a 2-hour buffer, I needed a structure and The Miracle Morning provided a template for me to create my own morning routine. My usual wake-up time was 7 a.m. on the weekdays and sleeping in until 8 a.m. or later on weekends. My new commitment was to wake up at 5 a.m. everyday. At the time I am writing this article, it has been 83 days and I can say that the habit is growing on me.
Benefits I’ve enjoyed from waking up early and going through a consistent routine have included:
*Peace of mind – spending every morning in prayer and reflection
*Finally finished reading my bible
*Writing and journaling ideas
*Going out the door with a greater sense of gratitude
*Handling stress better at work
*Plugging in with my family more than ever before
This is My Morning Routine
How You Go to Bed Determines How You Wake Up
First thing first, I set my alarm on my phone for 5 a.m. That is the obvious part, right? Here’s the kicker. I place that phone as far from me as possible. Elrod recommends on the other side of the room, because it will require you get up and walk to the other side of the room to turn it off. Well, Hal isn’t married to my wife. That was not going to fly in the Dugan house if I wanted to stay married. I settled for a 6-foot charging cable. When Liv is not looking, I slide that phone in a random direction along the floor from the nightstand. It’s not on the “other side of the room” and I have to get out of bed and quickly find my phone to turn off the alarm before I wake up Liv.
Ideally, we should unplug from our mobile devices before going to bed for a better night’s sleep. I have come across a variety of recommended time frames. Some say 30 minutes before bed, others say two hours. I am now working on meeting in the middle and going with 1 hour. That means no social media, YouTube, television for an hour before bed. That would be a challenge at home since we usually have the tv on until everyone heads to their rooms for the night.
Remind yourself of three things you are grateful for today. That’s what I do before closing my eye for the night. The mindset I go to bed with seems to be the mindset I wake up with. If I go to bed and say, “I’m tired,” that’s exactly how I feel when I wake up. If I go to bed reminding myself of how I had some things to be grateful of, I wake up in the morning feeling I like it is Christmas Day and Santa Claus left me presents under the tree. More than my brother this year in fact!
How much sleep should you get? That depends on you. Research says seven to eight hours per night? I have averaged about six hours a night, and feel great. On this one, you’ll need to have awareness of your own Circadian rhythms. My body seems to be fine in two-hour increments. This routine seems to work for me best whether I’m on 2-hours, 4-hours, 6-hours or even 8 hours of sleep. Seven hours? I’m feeling sluggish all day. I may need to read up on that subject a bit more.
It takes me an average get of ten minutes to jolt my body awake in the morning. Hal Elrod’s book gives you a five-minute routine to do this. Here is what I do regularly to wake myself up.
- Roll out of bed, turn off alarm – no snoozing
- Smile and say to myself, “Today, I’m starting a brand new day.” (It might be Sting singing “Brand New Day” to me, but whatever.)
- Go to the bathroom and splash water on my face, then brush my teeth.
- Shave my face – this part adds the extra five minutes.
- Get dressed in workout clothes – even if i don’t work out that morning.
- Go to the kitchen and drink 16 ounces of water.
All these items are set out the night before. I probably should have mentioned that in the previous section. Anyway, I’m awake now and there is no turning back.
The Routine Itself – Every Day
Hal Elrod uses the acronym S.A.V.E.R.S. For the sake of protecting his copyright, I’m going to recommend you read his book and share my routine using my own words. If you’ve read his book, you can connect the dots of my routine to his acronym.
This process takes about 60-90 minutes. Sometimes, the full two hours.
- Prayer/Silence/Reflection/Meditation – I spend about five minutes doing slow breathing while I pray. For you, it may just be meditation or reflection. The point is to spend time in silence.
- Exercise (15-30 minutes)- This is the part have struggled with the most to implement. It’s the easiest for me to talk myself out of. A friend of mine recommended that I do this first, and pray while I work out. This is new, so I’ll let you know how it goes in the future.
- Self-talk – I spend about five minutes affirming positive truths about myself and visualizing the future I want for my faith, family, finances, fitness, and furthering my professional career.
- Reading (15-30 minutes) – Priority for me is given to reading my bible or devotionals.
- Writing (15 minutes) – I keep a gratitude journal. Those three things I told myself the night before usually make up the written entries the next morning. Sometimes, I write down three things I’m grateful for with a future focus.
- Personal development time – The remaining time is spent doing whatever I want for personal development. It can be reading a book, writing some more, researching material for Beyond the Rut, or just more time spent doing one of the steps above.
By 7 a.m., I am ready to hit the shower and get ready for the day. There is no mad scramble to get ready. I even get bonus time on my self-development because I listen to podcasts on my commute to work. That’s 30 more minutes!
What is your morning routine? What are your biggest challenges or successes with a routine like this? Share in the comment section below.