Some of you are waking early this month, but others have a specific morning habit you’re creating. Today I’d like to share some tips for a few of those habits.

But before I do that, there’s one tip that I think is important no matter what you’re trying to do: focus on one habit at a time, not an entire morning routine.

Why is that? While it might seem like a great idea to string together a few awesome new habits, in my experience it doesn’t usually work out that well. You start out great, but then things fall apart after a week or two.

The best way to build a great morning routine is one habit at a time. Do one new habit for a month, then another, and so on. It will take longer, but you’re more likely to succeed, and you’re building a solid set of morning habits.

OK, with that said, let’s get into some tips for morning habits:

  1. General: Focus on being grateful for doing the habit, and finding something wonderful about it, each time you do it. Most of us just try to get through the habit, so we can check it off, but this is a huge mistake. This habit shouldn’t be a chore, but rather a treat.
  2. General: Be very conscious of the urge to do other things before you start your habit. What you want to do is have your trigger happen (let’s say after you wake up and then pee), and then do your habit immediately after. You will very likely have an urge to procrastinate, but don’t allow this to happen. If you make the habit small, you are less likely to procrastinate, but either way, you’ll need to make a strong effort not to procrastinate.
  3. Yoga: As with any habit, I suggest you start out small rather than trying to do an entire lengthy yoga routine. For example, if you plan to go to a class that takes more than an hour, you’ll have a hard time forming that habit … but if you just did 2-3 poses to start with, you’d have a good habit going after a couple weeks, and then you could add another 2-3 poses. Don’t shoot for 10 minutes, just start small.
  4. Yoga: Get your mat and clothes and DVD or music (or whatever you need) ready the night before. You want to be able to go right into it as soon as your trigger happens.
  5. Writing: Focus on just writing a paragraph or two, as you get started. If you feel motivated to write more after you get started, that’s totally fine. But you don’t need to write 2 pages a day, just write a little. Once you get into the habit, starting will be easy, and you can focus on going longer.
  6. Writing: As you go to sleep, close everything on your computer but open your writing program, and have only that open, so you have no distractions when you wake up. Think about what you want to write the night before, so you know what you want to write when you start.
  7. Exercise: I know I’m sounding like a broken record, but start as small as you can with exercise, because it’s a difficult habit to form. The problem is that exercise can be very uncomfortable, and so when you try to do 20-30 minutes of exercise every day (from zero minutes), it’s very likely to fail after a week or two. So start with 5 minutes. Just start, and try to be grateful and enjoy this 5 minutes. You can expand later.
  8. Exercise: I highly recommend you do exercise that doesn’t take a lot of equipment or driving or anything else to get going in the morning. For example, going to the gym means you have to get your gym bag and clothes ready, then drive or bike or walk to to the gym. There are too many obstacles to actually exercising. Instead, putting on your shoes and going for a walk is an easier habit to form if you’re just starting out. Or doing some pushups and lunges in your living room. Remove as many obstacles as you can. And again, start small — just a few pushups, whatever seems too easy to count as exercise is perfect.
  9. Meditation: Again, I highly recommend you start with just a couple minutes. And I highly recommend you start just by watching your breath, in and out. You don’t need to follow a guided meditation, just start simple: put your attention on your breath as it comes in, and as it goes out. You can sit on the couch or a chair, you don’t need a special meditation cushion or anything. You can evolve your method later, but for now, keep it as simple as possible.
  10. General: With meditation, and with all of these habits, if you’re new at it, you’ll feel confusion. You’ll wonder if you’re doing it right. This is absolutely normal. Don’t fret about it. Meditate on your confusion. Learn to be intimate with this feeling of uncertainty. It’s OK to feel it, and in fact crucial to your continued progress.