“Today is going to be the best day ever!”
Those are the first words out of my mouth every morning.
I’ve said them waking up from a great night’s sleep, when I had plans I was really looking forward to. I’ve also said them when I slept terribly and was anxious about something, or had a task coming up I flat didn’t want to do.
Nine short and simple words, but they profoundly change how I approach each day, helping recalibrate my mindset throughout the day.
Of course, simply saying it isn’t enough. Turning them from a promise to myself into reality every day, no matter what life throws at me, takes a system. A system I’m happy to share.
I thought I hated structure…
I fought against it for most of my life. I hated being told what to do. I didn’t want to be like everyone else and thought structure and routine defined ‘everyone else.’
Looking back, I’m amazed how wrong I was for such a long time.
Routine and good habits weren’t the enemy, they were the solution.
“Happiness doesn’t come from big pieces of great success, but from small advantages hammered out day by day.” – Jim Rohn
I look back at my life thus far and realize the best days of my life weren’t necessarily the days something great or exciting happened – such as business or financial success. Rather, they were those days when I felt good about myself because I grew as a person; days when I grew mentally, physically, and spiritually; days when I connected with someone; days when I helped someone.
I also realize there were a lot of things I knew I should be doing. Things like exercising regularly, meditating, and reading. I found the mental fatigue caused by not doing those was way worse than any physical fatigue ever could be. Amazingly, I’ve found it’s much harder NOT to do these things than it was to actually do them.
I have goals in my life; for the person I want to be; for what I want to accomplish and give back to this world. The only way I could meet these goals was to develop a Daily Routine that would get me to my physical, emotional, and spiritual peak each day, and keep me there. That’s how I’d have the best day of my life every day.
Why is a daily routine so important?
A recent study conducted by the American Psychological Association found that developing good habits is more important to meeting goals than self-control. It turns out we’re just as likely to default to positive habits, such as eating a healthy breakfast or going to the gym, as we are to self-sabotage. This research shows lack of control doesn’t automatically mean indulgence or hedonism. For better or worse, it’s our underlying routine that matters.
So, the central question for behavior change efforts should be, how can you form healthy, productive habits? What we know about habit formation is that you want to make the desired behavior easy to do, so you repeat it until it becomes part of your routine.
As a result, I’ve now built my life around structure. I need this structure to keep functioning at the highest level possible on all three planes of existence – mind, body, and soul. I need it to make myself a better person. I need it so I constantly see opportunity and view problems as ‘situations.’ In short, I need it so I can be free.
My structure is ever-evolving, as I periodically review, assess, and adjust it.
MY DAILY ROUTINE
Want to have the best day of your life every day, no matter what? Here’s a general overview of what I do each day to keep myself at my peak, so I truly enjoy each day, even when the s&*t hits the proverbial fan, and trust me, it has on many days.
1) Wake Up Early
I wake up at 5 AM each week-day morning and at 6 AM on weekends. Waking up early is key to starting my day right and sticking to the rest of my Daily Routine.
Why? Many successful people are early risers, and there are many benefits to waking up early. Still not ready to commit? My favorite explanation of the befits of being an early riser came from Buffer’s Joel Gascoigne:
“If I choose to get up early and do amazing things in those quiet hours, that’s when I feel like I’m grabbing hold of my life and controlling where I go.”
2) Immediately Get in a Positive Frame of Mind
I say this simple sentence out loud, “This will be the best day ever!” saying it like I mean it.
Why? My mind tries telling me all the things that are WRONG, but through positive thinking, I overcome it. According to the Mayo Clinic, positive thinking helps manage stress and even improves your health.
3) Give Thanks and Get out of Self
I get on my knees, say thanks, and ask for help and guidance. I repeat another simple sentence, “Love, serve, and remember. Remember what? Remember to love and serve.”
Why? It gets me out of my own head and connected to the Universe. I love this explanation about prayer from Hugh Macleod:
“People say prayers, not just because we’re hoping to get an omnipotent deity to intervene directly on our behalf, but because it also helps us concentrate our minds on the stuff that actually matters.
“Whether we believe or don’t believe in God or Buddha or the grey-bearded sky fairy, art is still very good for helping us to “pray” to the deepest part of our own selves, of our own lives.”
4) Nourish Your Body
I drink a full glass of cold water and eat a piece of fruit.
Why? Not only does it help cleanse and rehydrate me, it also helps me wake up. I’m doing something good for my body right away.
5) Fill Your Mind with Good Stuff
I read something spiritual via apps on my phone. Each of these contains a daily reading that helps center and inspire me. Most times, I just glance at them and since my brain isn’t fully awake yet, I don’t fully grasp the reading. Still, there’s always something that resonates, even if only a word or a sentence.
Why? According to Barb Schmidt, reading for inspiration shines light on the path to peace:
“Just as the food we eat nourishes and strengthens the body, the books we read for inspiration nourish and enrich the mind. I thrive in my life and feed my soul with the reading I do daily.”
I didn’t think meditation was possible for a person like me. I was way too busy, had too much going on in my mind, and wasn’t really very spiritual. Then I realized I had so many preconceived notions about meditation that I simply had to try it. I can honestly say meditation changed my life. I meditate 11 minutes each morning without fail. It doesn’t matter where I am or what’s going on around me, I simply sit and meditate.
“Actually, some of the best benefits of meditation are hard to define — you begin to understand yourself better, for example, and form a self-awareness level you’ve never had before.
“Most simply, sitting for just a few minutes of meditation is an oasis of calm and relaxation that we rarely find in our lives these days. And that, in itself, is enough.”
7) Write to Clear Your Mind and Receive Inspiration
When I first read about Juila Cameron’s Morning Pages, I thought she was crazy, along with anyone who did them. You want me to hand-write three pages every single morning? Are you nuts?! Today, I can’t imagine going a single day without doing my Morning Pages. They are as essential to me as anything else in my life.
Why? My Morning Pages help clear my mind and clarify my dreams, goals, ideas, and inspirations.
These pages are about anything and everything that crosses your mind – and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize, and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think your Morning Pages. Just write three pages of anything today, then three more pages tomorrow, then three more every day after.
8) Practice Gratitude
I used to think about all the unfair things in my life. All the bad people, bad luck, and all the things that were wrong. Then, to counter that, I started writing out gratitude lists each day, and it cultivated an attitude of gratitude in my life.
Why? I like to think of gratitude as an action word. If I don’t consciously take time to be aware of all the things I’m grateful for each day, it’s easy to slip back into negative thinking.
The reality is this; especially in this country, we have much to be grateful for each day, no matter what’s going on. Practice gratitude and it will change how you see the world.
9) Say Positive Affirmations and Incantations Out Loud
I recite some positive affirmations and incantations, some I learned from others, and some I created, based on my own personal goals, desires, and reminders.
Why? Affirmations help you define your focus for the things you want to see in your life. They keep you focused on your goals, desires, and dreams. Most importantly, positive affirmations allow you to deliberately train and re-program your subconscious mind.
10) Have a Plan for the Day
I write out a plan for the day, which consists of up to six important tasks I want to accomplish that day and a loose schedule for when I’ll work on them (based on my 40 Pomodoro Workweek system). Then, I write out why I want to accomplish them, and what specific actions I need to take to accomplish them.
Why? A daily action plan allows you to focus on what’s important and, above all, provides you a sense of control you need to stifle any hint of anxiety or stress.
11) Visualize Success
I put on an inspirational song or watch a motivating video and sit in visualization for a few minutes. I visualize the day unfolding positively, and then go further into the future, picturing where and who I want to be.
12) Take a Walk
Every morning I walk my dog to Central Park. It gets my blood flowing and gives my mind a change of scenery. I connect with him, other people, and nature (yes, we have nature here in New York City :)) Don’t have a dog or a park? That’s fine, just move. I once heard a saying “Move a muscle, change a thought.” How true.
Why? As you can imagine, there are lots of health benefits to walking every day, but beyond that, walking helps boost your creativity, it’s a great way to come up with lots of ideas each day. Spending as little as five minutes walking in a natural setting results in large improvements in self-esteem and mood.
13) Read a Chapter of a Book
I always wanted to read more, but reading books seemed so overwhelming – they were soooooo long. So I came up with an easy solution to make it more manageable and help me read more. I simply read one chapter of one book each day. It doesn’t even have to be the same book (I’m currently reading a few different books at the same time based on my mood).
Why? As Glen Stansberry put it “I’ve found that no matter what I read, the act of reading every day has helped me in nearly every aspect of my life.” Reading helps reduce stress, improves your analytical thinking, inspires you and can even help you prioritize your goals.
14) Talk to Someone You Trust Completely
I call my mentor every day. Most days, I just leave him a message. Still, I make the call every single day, no matter what. That simple act of accountability helps me in so many ways.
Why? Having a connection with someone that you can truly be honest with allows you to open up and feel truly ‘real.’ Beyond that, just knowing I’ll be reporting to him makes it more likely I’ll stay on track with my commitments to myself.
15) Spend Quality Time with Loved Ones
I spend quality time with my daughter every single day. It’s important to remember why we do all the stuff we do – what’s the point of success and living a good life if you can’t share it with anyone? Quality time goes beyond simply being there. It means putting my phone down and connecting with her.
Why? This one goes at the top of the list of the things that no one wants to regret when they’re older. I spent the first years of my daughter’s life never really present, and at the end of the day, there’s nothing more important to me than being there for the people I love.
16) Show Appreciation
I do something nice for my wife each day. I make a conscious effort to do this because it’s easy to get wrapped up in a busy day and just think of all of the stuff I have going on (me! me! me!). So I make sure I do something to show her how important she is to me. It doesn’t have to be something earth-shaking. It could be as simple as a quick text or doing something around the house without her asking me.
Why? One of the greatest benefits of expressing appreciation is that it allows us to see others more fully. The more appreciation we express, the more we are getting out of self, the better we feel.
Technically this one isn’t every day, since I exercise and stretch “only” five times a week. However, it’s something I’ve built into my weekly routine that I carry out on an almost-daily basis. I know that each week I’ll exercise five times no matter what. I give myself two rest days to recover and focus more on other areas, even if those are simply getting in some down time to relax.
Why? I have a lot of energy, and if I don’t channel it right, it can work against me. Exercise helps me have more of the right kind of energy. It makes me feel better about myself and so much more. For some, it’s beyond life changing.
18) Come Up with Ideas
Why? When you exercise your ideation and creativity muscle daily, you strengthen it. You clear up the mental clutter caused by ideas that may get stuck in your head. You may even come up with such a killer idea that will make you a ton of money, or even better, make a huge difference in the world.
Each night I floss. This one seems like it shouldn’t even be on a list like this right? Well, the simple act of flossing taught me discipline and consistency. It was hard at first and I’d miss a day here or three there. Then I realized I felt badly about that, and spent more time thinking about not flossing than it would have taken me to just floss.
Why? It’s a great way to work on forming small, positive habits. If you need to, you can even start with flossing one tooth per day and work up from there.
20) Review Your Day
I review my day and journal about the best things that happened, and what I want to improve.
Why? It’s easy to get caught in the blur of a day and not reflect on where you are right now. Journaling at night allows you to do this. Benjamin Franklin used to ask himself this simple question each night:
“What good have I done today?”
If you know you’ll owe yourself an answer to that question at the end of the day, don’t you think that will help you make better choices during the day?
21) Nighttime Affirmations
I reaffirm my goals and recite a couple of nighttime affirmations that prepare me to wake up early the following morning, no matter how much sleep I get or what’s on my mind.
Why? Nighttime affirmations put your mind in a positive state right before you go to sleep. They give you a feeling of confidence and clarity, while setting the tone for your next morning.
22) Say Thanks
I get on my knees and give thanks for the day’s gifts and everything in my life.
Why? In the words of Mesiter Echkart:
“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”
Whether you believe in a higher power or not, experiencing gratitude for what you do have helps you concentrate on the positive. This doesn’t mean you don’t strive to improve yourself and the world around you. You just accept that for right now, things are fine as they are, but you can always make them even better.
Yeah But Do You Do Anything Else With Your Life?!
In between all of this, I work, I relax, and I do lots of other things. The healthier I am, mind, body, and soul, the more productive I am. The more creative I am, the more efficient I become. This Daily Routine has allowed me to be my most creative, efficient, and effective self.
How About Your Todays and Tomorrows?
Are you ready to take on the challenge, and assert for yourself each day that “Today will be the best day ever!”? If you are, you’ll need to set up your own support structure, to keep that all-important promise to yourself.
Start small. Even one positive habit done daily can be the basis for major change in your life.
What does your Daily Routine include? Please let me know in the comments below. Don’t have one? Let me know what you are going to start with.