What’s the value of starting your day well? In my experience, it’s an incredible way to change your life.

Some of the things I’ve done by creating morning habits over the years:

  1. Started my blog and wrote numerous books by writing in the morning.
  2. Trained for marathons by running in the morning.
  3. Became a regular exerciser.
  4. Became a regular meditator.
  5. Started my day with healthy eating by creating various healthy breakfasts.
  6. Learned to be better at productivity by focusing on my most important tasks.

In truth, my morning habits have changed over the years, but I still do most of those things above. The 1st and 6th items are usually the same for me, and the 2nd and 3rd items are combined now.

So my morning usually consists of:

I don’t follow a precise timing pattern in the mornings, but I generally do all of these things each morning, with some flexibility for when we have visitors or other things come up to interrupt my routine.

Today, I’d like to talk about the importance of a good start to your day, and some ideas for how to create a good start.

The Principles

These are principles that I believe in from years of experimenting:

  1. If it’s important, I will create a morning habit for it. If I want to write a book or blog, creating a morning writing habit is the way to do it. I’ve found that anything important should be done first thing, otherwise it won’t get done regularly. You might not be the same (maybe you have a good afternoon or evening routine) but this works for me and lots of other people I know.
  2. Wake a little earlier, slowly. Don’t have time for an important morning habit? You can create time by shifting your sleep a little, by going to bed a little earlier and waking a little earlier. If you spend your evenings doing things like watching TV, by making this shift you’re creating effective time for yourself.
  3. Focus on one change at a time. It’s not a good idea, I’ve found, to try to create an entire morning routine at once. Just focus on one small habit, and wait until that feels pretty automatic. Then do another.
  4. Realize that routines aren’t set in stone. My morning routine has changed a lot over the years, as I experiment with new habits and as my priorities shift. For example, I no longer do marathon training as I don’t run marathons anymore. But I still exercise and go on runs, in varying mixes. Also, things come up in life that cause you to not be able to do your routine — that’s perfectly fine! Becoming rigid with your routines doesn’t lead to happiness. Finally, my waking time shifts with the season, I’ve found, and I just find a way to make that work.
  5. Focus on enjoyment rather than getting it done. If you enjoy the morning writing (or drawing, yoga, whatever), it’ll be a much better morning habit, and you’re much more likely to stick with it, than if you just do it in order to complete your habit. Don’t just get it over with. Don’t just check it off your list. Savor it.

It’s certainly possible to create a great start to your day without following these principles, so you’ll have to find what works for you. These work for me, and I do recommend them.

How to Create a Good Start

As I said in the section above, focusing on one change at a time is a good idea. So what you’ll want to do is figure out what change you want to focus on this month.

I purposely made this month have several options (waking early, doing your Most Important Tasks, or doing another morning habit like yoga, writing or meditation) because you’re all in different places … some of you might want to wake earlier but others already do and want to create a new good morning habit.

So you’ll need to think about where you are, and what you’d like to change about your mornings.

Some suggested changes (choose just one):

Of course, if you have a different morning habit, you’re welcome to choose that instead!

Please note that many of you will want to do more than one of these. I only recommend that if you’re doing the wake earlier habit — you can wake 10 minutes earlier and meditate for 5 minutes, for example — but otherwise I think you should just choose one habit for now and then add others in coming months.

A few other important notes:

  1. Start as small as possible — a 10-minute writing habit will blossom into an entire book, but don’t try to write 2,000 words a day yet.
  2. Be fully committed — if you just half-ass this, it won’t happen. Tell everyone about it, set aside time, set up reminders, get some accountability.
  3. Join an accountability group — the small teams are set up to help you form your habit, so use them! Or join the open channel for the challenge on Slack if you don’t want a smaller group.

ACTION STEPS: Pick one of the morning habits above, fully commit to doing that change this month, and join a small team.