5 Steps That Will Change Your Life Before Breakfast
We all get into ruts. You go to work, you come home, you sit in front of the TV and your day is over. That isn’t going to magically change by itself; you have to take the steps toward personal development to really alter your life trajectory.
None of the steps below are revolutionary. You’ve heard about all of these, but don’t let that make you stop listening. The power of these steps is doing them in combination and doing them every single day. Even if you can do each step for just a minute or two, do it. You’ll be reprogramming your brain.
Rather than looking at these steps and saying, “I already know that,” try replacing your reaction with, “Am I living that?”
Are you approaching life with a positive outlook, or are you scattered and stressed and in a rut?
Why not give the morning ritual a try?
Doing all of these steps for just one morning, or even a few days in a row isn’t going to dramatically change your life. Do them every day for 21 days straight or, even better, for 30 days and you will notice how your outlook begins to change. See how your attitude improves and how you start to actively attack your goals because you’ve visualized and written out the specific steps you need to achieve them.
Implement these 5 habits today…
1. Clear Your Mind
We live in a world of noise. Sometimes it’s audible, and other times it’s the “noise” of constantly checking our phones and the news. You’ve got to give your mind times of calm and silence. You’ve got to shut out the world for a little while and let your brain rest and recover. Meditation lets you do this.
“But I’m not into yoga or transcendentalism or anything like that,” you say. Meditation isn’t limited to that. Ray Dalio, considered the most successful hedge fund manager in the world, swears by it. He says meditation is the key to his financial success.
Remember when I said at the beginning of this that you can’t say you already know all this? You’ve got to keep an open mind and give this a try in the way that I’m presenting here. Because remember, what you’ve been doing isn’t working. It’s time to try something new.
Meditation will give you a centered start to the other four steps, and a centered start to your day. But don’t be fooled by the outwardly static appearance of this step — it’s not easy. You’re not just sitting there. You’re stilling your mind and tuning out the world. And you’ve got to force your inner voice to be silent too, which is often harder than silencing everything around you.
Stilling your mind can help relax and lower your blood pressure, help you find focus and give you energy. It centers you before the chaos of the rest of your day arrives.
But such a simple thing—being quiet—can be really hard for many people, myself included. Because it feels like you’re not doing anything, but simply being. And many people don’t have the balance and mindset that allows them to naturally do this.
There are people who can meditate for hours on end. I’m not saying you have to do that. Aim for five minutes. Can’t do that? Set the timer for two minutes and see if you can do that.
Still can’t make it? Do one minute. Complete one minute, celebrate the victory (no judging yourself!) and move on to the next step.
Tomorrow, try for two minutes. Keep building until you can meditate for five to 10 minutes in the morning. You may just get so good at it that you turn to mini-meditation breaks throughout your workday to recenter yourself.
2. Say It
If you’re a fan of the 1990s late-night TV, you probably remember Stuart Smalley. He was a character on “Saturday Night Live” played by Al Franken. The Stuart Smalley skits centered on a mock self-help show in which he hosted guests and used a number of affirmations, including what might be his most famous: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.”
The character provided some laughs, but it also had the consequence of making many people in the general public mock the idea of affirmations. And the way affirmations have been taught over the years hasn’t helped either. Too often people use self-lies as affirmations, or statements that are too general—“I attract wealth,” or “I weigh 120 pounds.” These simply aren’t true, and saying them to yourself doesn’t make them happen.
The best affirmations are those that incorporate specific actions. These affirmations program your mind to do the things that will bring about the results you want. Things don’t happen by magic simply by saying or wishing them so. We have to train our minds—both the conscious and the subconscious—to get into the habits that will achieve our goals.
Here’s an example: My wife, Kim, talks to a lot of women through our work who are afraid of taking their first step on the way to wealth. They’re fearful of parting with their money for investments, of making a mistake, of looking like they don’t know what they’re doing. Instead of encouraging them to say something like, “Money flows to me effortlessly” those women can tell themselves an affirmation like, “I’m committed to earning X dollars by doing Y action every day by Z date.” This isn’t just wishful thinking; now it’s an actionable plan. And by repeating this to themselves, they’re creating the expectation in their mind that they’re actually going to take that action. They’re reprogramming the pathways in their brains.
Think back to the specific goal you want to accomplish. What are the steps to getting there? Create affirmations from those action steps. Make them specific.
Write them down, and repeat them to yourself for five to 10 minutes each morning. As you do so, that will start to lead naturally into the next step.
3. See It
Visualization exercises run into the same issues as affirmation. They’ve been taught as a magical, vague way to dream yourself to your goal. Those who teach them urge people to visualize the perfect outcome—the high-paying job, a dream house, a great body—but that’s too general.
Just as your affirmations need to be focused on specific steps, so do your visualizations. You can’t just visualize yourself sitting in the corner office. Figure out the steps that will get you there and visualize those.
Let’s say you want to get in shape. You don’t just visualize yourself sitting on the beach in your swimsuit. Instead, visualize yourself packing your gym bag and making it to the gym every day with a positive attitude. Picture yourself using the machines at the gym and growing stronger. Visualize yourself going to the grocery store, selecting fresh produce and lean meats, and then returning home and turning those ingredients into a delicious meal that leaves you satisfied.
Specific visualizations like that prepare your mind to accomplish the steps that will lead to the goal you want. Just visualizing the goal won’t get you anywhere. You won’t magically end up owning your own company or running a marathon just by picturing the end goal. You’ve got to condition your mind to do the steps that will take you there, and visualization is one of the ways to train your brain.
Spend a few minutes—again, ideally five to 10—visualizing the specific steps to your goal. Be as specific as possible. See yourself doing it in your mind, and it will be that much easier to accomplish in real life because you’ve already prepared your mind.
4. Move It
Up until now, we’ve focused on your mind. Now it’s time to get the blood flowing to the rest of your body.
Life really is a balance of health, wealth and happiness, and without keeping your health in the mix, the other areas of your life will suffer. And there’s an immediate benefit to exercising in the morning: Getting the oxygen and blood flowing and releasing endorphins positively affects the quality of the rest of your day. The exercise I’m talking about in this step isn’t a replacement for a full-on workout. It’s five to 10 minutes of getting the body moving before you start the day.
Maybe you prefer to lift weights or run in the afternoon or evening. So use the morning session to do something like stretching, or a planking routine.
If you are a morning person who wants to do the full workout in the morning, that’s fine too. The main thing is that you need to move as part of your morning ritual, and I don’t want you thinking that just because you can’t spend an hour exercising that you’ve failed this step. The important thing is to do something for a few minutes. It awakens your mind and body and gives you a boost to carry you into your workday.
I’m the type of person who might not exercise for five days and then I’ll go to the gym and overdo it, trying to make up for lost time and then by killing myself on the machines, I end up hating exercise. So instead of that, now I’m exercising for just a few minutes in the morning every day, faithfully. I might still hate exercise, but even I can do three minutes.
So find something that works for you and can be done in just a few minutes. The main thing, as the Nike slogan goes, is to just do it.
5. Write it Down
Journaling isn’t just for tweens writing about their secret crushes. Writing your thoughts and intentions has a power—seeing something in ink makes it real.
There are a couple of ways to approach journaling during your morning ritual. One is to write what you want to accomplish, and the other is to write about what you’re grateful for.
Putting your intentions for the day into writing, writing down what you focused on in the affirmations and visualizations, propels you into action. It allows you to prioritize your actions and almost acts like a contract with yourself. It’s a way of cementing the thoughts you’ve had in the previous steps.
Writing down what you’re grateful for also helps change your mindset.
If you complete these things everyday, you’ll really be reprogramming your thoughts so that it starts happening without conscious effort.
Editor, Rich Dad Poor Dad Daily