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What Successful People Do During Their Morning Routine

“You are what you eat.” We’ve read this quote more than a dozen times on TV commercials, lifestyle magazines, health campaigns, and even from sports and athleisure business websites. Though per se, it appears as an opening debate statement between vegans, vegetarians, and meatatarians, there is an underlying meaning to this quote. When French author Anthelme Brillat-Savarin and German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach originally stated the quoted text, they suggest that our eating choices and habits determine who we are as a person and individual.

What they mean is, in fact, not far from the truth. What we do in repetition can affect our response to different situations, decisions, and even our trajectory in life. Throughout our lives, we develop habits formed through repetitive daily actions and behaviors. Some of these behaviors we draw from our perceptions and beliefs. Some, on the other hand, are picked up through social and interpersonal interactions. And while some of these habits are good for us, some are unknowingly threatening our future and success.

All the things we do and do not do today, no matter how small, build up and affect how we turn out in our future. You may be scrolling your social media account right now, seeing news about a formerly inactive friend who’s now made a comeback as a successful entrepreneur, or a distant struggling relative who now owns large stocks and successful investments. You may be wondering why good fortune seems to elope you and why some people are too lucky to have that in life. However, you may not have considered that maybe, why you had no news about your friend is because he developed the habit of using his social media time to learn about business strategies. Perhaps, instead of posting rants about his struggles on Facebook or Twitter, your distant relative used the time to learn about stocks and how to profit from his meager salary. Their success and good fortune may come from the way they chose to change their actions and themselves.

But the good news is that we can change our habits. According to New York Times journalist Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit, habits start as cues or triggers which lead us to act and receive the reward of the act.

Being aware of our cues or triggers, or being self-aware in general, is a way to know whether we’ve fallen trapped in a vicious cycle of bad habits. Once we know where we are falling short, we can work on new routines which will help us attain success.

You may or may not always be aware of the routines and behaviors that can potentially harm your success. Yet, you can incorporate these routines below, practiced by successful individuals, and proving their success stories.

1. Waking Up Early

An adage goes, “An early bird catches the worm.” Often, we hear it from the community elders or our grandparents. But do you know who else lives by this principle? Successful people. Early waking time is one classic ingredient that always gets thrown in the success mix. From Benjamin Franklin’s book entitled “Poor Richard’s Almanack,” he once wrote, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Needless to say that the diplomat and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States believed that waking time is of the essence in becoming a successful person.

Rising early in the morning gives you more time for your daily tasks, which improves productivity. Of course, productivity plays a vital role in your success. It helps you reach your goals faster. According to a survey by Amerisleep, people who get out of bed at 4 am or before the sun comes up are highly productive 71% of the time. It also revealed that those who wake up early earn more in a year than those who rise late.

Increasing productivity is one reason why many billionaires like Elon Musk, Mark Cuban, and Jack Dorsey rise early. Elon Musk, the SpaceX and Tesla Motors CEO, wakes up at 7:00 am and starts his day answering emails and phone calls. “Shark” Mark Cuban from the popular reality TV show “Shark Tank” begins his daily routine around 5:30 am. According to him, “I get up, and I work immediately. I love doing this.” Meanwhile, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey wakes up at 5:00 am every day and shakes off sleep by doing a series of tasks that he calls “personal care.”

Furthermore, Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi, who consistently ranked among the Top 100 Most Powerful Women, wakes up as early as 4:00 am. She gets to her office no later than 7:00 am.

2. Meditation

The journey towards a better, wealthier, and stress-free life, in reality, can be stressful at times. The more goals you plan to achieve, the more you have to work hard for them. Therefore, you need the time to de-stress, recuperate, and recalibrate.

Contrary to the aphorism “Work hard, play hard,” what you need instead after a taxing and challenging day is rest. Your mind needs to rest just as much as it works hard. You might think overworking yourself to get to the finish line earlier is the right path to succeeding. But devoting almost all your time to work and work-related stress is, in fact, counter-productive. A Whitehall II study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology revealed that long working hours contribute to the brain’s decline of cognitive function. Not only that, but it also leads to serious health issues among middle-aged people.

Yet, sometimes, sleeping alone is not enough. Your brain needs some other form of downtime, like meditation. Researchers from Columbia University Medical Center claim that meditation helps the brain relax, focus, and increase psychological resilience. It means that meditation also helps improve your productivity because it helps with memory retention, attention span, and concentration.

Although successfully meditating isn’t an easy feat, many well-known personalities and business tycoons swear by the practice. Whether to improve their mental state, warm up their brain for the day, or cope with work-related stress, these people found meditation a much-needed morning routine. Jennifer Aniston, one of the hit sitcom Friends’ female lead and every 90’s kids’ girl crush as Rachel Green, was a faithful advocate of meditation and mindfulness exercises. “Any kind of yoga practice is my meditation,” she said in an interview with People. She also added that sitting and writing are also other forms of meditation for her. Another champion of meditation is also a “Jennifer.” Jennifer Lopez, or J. Lo, as the world calls her, is a singer, actress, and businesswoman who practices meditation every morning and night since 1999 up to now, sharing her tips and tricks on Instagram.

On the other hand, hip-hop music mogul and CEO of Rush Communications Russel Simmons devotes his time to making meditation more accessible to people. “Meditation is the greatest tool that I know of to help you both harness and maximize your entrepreneurial spirit,” he said.

3. Exercise

Try to imagine doing anything that requires exerting physical strength in the morning. You’re probably already tired just thinking about it. Most of us would usually sit somewhere inside or outside the house as soon as we get up and stare into space until the sun becomes too hot to handle to wake up completely. Exercise? It can wait. After all, some health professionals say it’s better to exercise in the afternoon because we’ve already loosened our muscles from the tasks we did during the day. It’s somewhat like a warm-up.

Yet, exercising in the morning is an unwritten rule for some of the world’s most eminent people. They are pretty busy people, after all. They make sure to condition themselves physically to prepare for the challenges that the new day brings. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc., sees to it that he wakes up at 4:00 am to have time for exercise. “I go to the gym and work out for an hour because it keeps my stress at bay,” said Tim at a Fortune interview.

Richard Branson, an English business magnate who founded Virgin Group, has a different take on the importance of exercise in the morning. In his blog, he wrote, “I seriously doubt that I would have been as successful in my career (and happy in my personal life) if I hadn’t always placed importance on my health and fitness.” Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of the largest social media platform Facebook and another firm believer of exercise as part of the morning routine, said, “I make sure I work out at least three times a week- usually first thing when I wake up.”

4. Welcoming positive energy through gratefulness

Everybody knows Marie Kondo as the Queen of Tidy. Because of her well-received Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, everyone can easily assume that she starts cleaning or practicing her folding techniques as soon as she opens her eyes. Although her famous KonMari Method is part of her morning routine, she would greet her house and her family good morning first and foremost. Then, she would open all the windows to let the 6:00 or 6:30 am breeze in and light incense. According to her interview with The Cut, this is her way of feeling grateful.

Optimism and cleanliness in the morning help counter negativity and increase mental focus and productivity. Marie Kondo is one successful individual who has proven this. She is already setting up her day to be positive by channeling positive emotions and appreciating the things and nature around her.

Another inspiring woman who loves organizing perhaps just as much as Marie Kondo is Melody McCloskey. The successful entrepreneur and CEO of StyleSeat wake up at 5:45 am to do an hour of organizing before doing exercises.

If some of the morning routines seem too hard for you, maybe you can start by clearing the clutter in your bed or bedroom upon waking up. Clutter interferes with mental concentration. So, it can hinder productivity. Perhaps you can also start Marie Kondo-ing your way to success.

5. Ask yourself why you want to do what you do every morning

Chasing for your dreams and working on your goals can be exhausting. The bumps and setbacks you will encounter along the way can sometimes lead to burnout. When this happens, you will find yourself lost, and it may seem impossible to bounce back. So, to not let your fire die out, self-motivation is vital. You have to find inside you the reason to continue when things around you become too heavy and complicated.

For Steve Jobs, Apple Inc. co-founder and a business magnate renowned to the world, his morning routine includes asking himself this question, “Would you want to be doing what you’re doing now if you knew you’re in the last day, month, or year of your life?” He said, “Whenever the answer has been no for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

You can have your personalized questions for your goals, and it might not sound exactly like Steve Jobs’, but the bottom line is that asking yourself what you want to do and why you do what you do serves as a self-evaluation, reminder, and motivation.

6. Reading the news

Some of the great leaders in the business world, like Warren Buffett, like to read the news rather than watch it on TV. His day starts at 6:45 am after getting at least 8 hours of sleep. Then, the philanthropist and investor proceeds with his breakfast and reading at least six local and national newspapers. Some of the newspapers he regularly reads are Financial times and the Omaha World-Herald.

While he reads newspapers every morning, Buffet does not limit his readings to only this medium throughout the day. On his HBO documentary entitled “Becoming Warren Buffet,” he said, “I still probably spend five or six hours a day reading. I like to sit and think. I spend a lot of time doing that and sometimes it is pretty unproductive, but I find it enjoyable to think about business or investment problems.”

Both he and Mark Cuban think that reading is one habit that is key to success. In his blog, Cuban wrote, “Everything I read was public. Anyone could buy the same books and magazines. The same information was available to anyone who wanted it. Turns out most people didn’t want it.” Buffet, echoing the same sentiment, said this to students of Columbia University, “Read 500 pages like this (referring to books on investing) every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.” He also used to tell his late wife that everybody can read what he reads and that it is a level playing field.

7. Eating breakfast

Health experts believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The most obvious reason is that it helps us get the energy we need to kick start our day. It also improves metabolism, which is one reason why Kylie Jenner, a makeup mogul and founder of Kylie Cosmetics and a star in the reality TV series Keeping Up with the Kardashians, includes eating breakfast in her morning routine. She revealed in a Tiktok video that she eats crunchy granola with berries and yogurt for breakfast.

Breakfast is also a crucial part of Bella Poarch’s day. The internet influencer and viral TikTok star showed how she cooks her breakfast and goes about her day in one of her TikTok videos.

8. Having Family and Personal Time

A time for himself and his family is an essential ingredient in starting the day right for Bob Ferguson. “I’m a big believer that how your day starts is really important,” the 18th Attorney General of Washington State said in an interview with CNBC Make It. “First, I have a little personal time — breakfast, coffee, and the morning news.” He continued to explain that after his time, he wakes his family up and cooks them breakfast. He also said that waking up early in the morning is his way to make sure he has time for what matters most.

Keeping yourself grounded is a vital element of success. Your own time and personal space are necessary for growth, but you also need to make time for the people who are always there to support you no matter who you are now and who you become tomorrow.

Whatever you repeatedly do becomes a habit, and whatever you decide to do today will impact your future. It’s hard to change a habit, much less a behavior, but changing it is not impossible. You need to call yourself out when bad habits become your comfort zone. More than anyone else, it’s you who can figure out where you’re falling short and where you will shine best. Your success is your responsibility.