The Crazy Benefits of a Morning Routine
Tell me if this sounds familiar…
Before I was forced to retire, my morning routine hardly varied.
Whether my job required me to wake at 4:30AM or 7:30AM, I moved in lockstep through the schedule:
- Start the coffee
- Feed the cat
- Make the bed
- Pour the water into the coffee maker
- Makeup and hair
- Check email with coffee
- Wash up the few dishes and cup
- Give the cat a pet
- Leave for work
Since rushing rattles me, I gave myself 75 minutes or so to do this which is about how long it takes for my brain to reach its full functionality after a night’s sleep. Any disruptions to the routine could throw the timing off because it all took place in my lizard brain – no thinking required.
When I stopped looking for work and put the plan in place to sell my home and leave Manhattan, the schedule remained the same for about a year. Then I began slacking off. I’d skip bed making until later. Then I put off showering to read and answer email first which soon extended to the morning online news which easily added an hour, even two to sitting butt-still in the desk chair.
I am never hungry until four or five hours after I waken. I had forced a meal for years knowing there would be no time to eat until noon or later, but now I realized I could stop doing that and eat whenever I feel like it.
You know how this progressed…
I technically retired at age 39, when I quit my banking job and started London Real. Something I’m sure you’re aware of… One major benefit of retirement is you no longer have to punch a time clock. But, this can be a double-edged sword.
For a lot of retirees, including the one in the excerpt above, the reality of life after work doesn’t live up to its promise. According to a study by the Institute of Economic Affairs, the likelihood that someone will suffer from clinical depression actually goes up by about 40% after retiring.
Researchers believe it’s in part due to the fact that work provides many of the ingredients you need to live a happy life, like social connections, daily routine, and a sense of purpose. When you stop working, you lose a lot of these critical pieces.
Therefore the key to enjoying retirement is finding new ways to achieve these things.
Today I want to share with you a simple morning routine that will transform the way you go about your days in retirement.
Even if you’re not yet retired, having a consistent morning routine is helpful and will provide you with many benefits throughout your day.
But before we get to specific routines, let’s talk about why a morning routine is so important…
Change Your Morning and You Change Your Whole Day
You’ve heard the expression about waking up on the wrong side of the bed. Well, here’s the truth in that saying.
When you start your day off on the wrong foot, maybe you spill coffee on your shirt during your morning commute, your brain takes that experience and uses it to frame the rest of the day’s events.
On the other hand, if you start your day off right, your brain will overlook some of the negative events that follow and focus only on the good throughout the day. This is confirmation bias at work.
The goal of your morning routine then is not to make sure nothing bad happens before lunch. The goal is to build a routine that gets you feeling positive about the day right away so momentum helps carry you through any rough patches.
There are a lot of benefits to having a morning routine but I think these are the most important:
When you retire, you often lose the structure a job and family provide, which for some can feel disorienting. You might have trouble remembering what day of the week it is, or suddenly realize a whole year has passed you by and you have nothing to show for it. I know the feeling.
A simple fix is to have a set schedule. You don’t need to block out every minute of the day, but it’s important to wake up with a few key goals and priorities written down on paper. This builds purpose into your days.
Also try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, including on weekends. Your body thrives on consistency.
Another major benefit to having a morning routine is it will save you time. By keeping a consistent schedule and doing a few routine tasks each morning, your days will become streamlined. This is a process I’ve worked years to perfect. And now, in my late forties, I’m in the best shape of my life, operating at the highest level I could have ever dreamed.
I say this to inspire, not to brag. Here’s why it’s so helpful…
Instead of having to think through each task you do in the morning, you’ll just do it because it’s become habit. Time is your most precious asset, especially as you get older. There’s no rush when you’re retired but you shouldn’t squander the days away either.
Finally, the biggest benefit to having a morning routine is it reduces stress. How many times do you find yourself rushing in the morning and sprinting out the door without feeling fully prepared for the day?
This kind of stress increases cortisol levels in your body. And high cortisol is associated with increased weight gain, anxiety and a number of other health risks. Your morning routine should save you time and leave you feeling energized and ready for the day, not stressed out and wishing you were still in bed.
So, How Do You Build The Perfect Morning Routine?
The good news is you don’t have to wake up early to have a good morning routine. A lot of experts will list all the things you should be doing before 7AM like meditating, exercise, prayer, journaling, reading, eating a healthy breakfast…
There’s no doubt in my mind these things provide value to some people before starting their day, but for most people I know it’s unrealistic to ask them to wake up 2 hours early to knock off all these must-do things.
Instead, focus on accomplishing just 3 things:
1. Focus on Being Positive
As I said earlier, the way you start your day frames how your brain will view the rest of your day, so try to begin each day with a positive attitude. How do you do that? Figure out what makes you happy first thing in the morning and avoid what makes you unhappy. For a lot of people, coffee or tea is the answer. And watching the news or reading emails should be avoided.
2. Know Your Purpose
Write out your daily or weekly goals the night before. Take a few minutes every day to review what you plan on accomplishing this week. It might simply be your scheduled events like tennis on Tuesday, coffee with friends Thursday, etc. This doesn’t have to be complicated. Just know what you’re doing and when, and if you have nothing planned, try to make plans.
3. Go for a Walk
Research finds that on days people exercise before work, they are far better able to concentrate and handle their workload. Exercise boosts your mood and motivation by 41% and your ability to deal with stress by 27%. Get in the habit of going for a 15 minute walk every morning. The light exercise will do wonders for you mood and you’ll start your day feeling energized.
There are a number of other things you can add to this list but I suggest starting here. Take the routine you have now and use these tips to improve it. Your goal is always to start your day right.
Editor, Brian Rose Uncensored