How to build the perfect morning routine for you

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The world’s most successful people understand the power of an optimized morning routine. Spanx founder Sara Blakely starts her day with a superfood-packed smoothie. Business magnate Warren Buffett kicks off his morning by reading financial news. Virgin Group founder Richard Branson plays an intense game of tennis every morning at 6 a.m. What is your morning routine?

“A morning routine makes you the creator of your day instead of being a ‘reactor,’” says Susi Kaeufer, mindset and business coach and founder of Dreamlife Deluxe. “When we allow our day and circumstances to create our emotions, we don’t feel in control, and surely don’t feel happy and grateful.” 

“I always go into the day with intention and gratitude, knowing how I’m going to feel for the day and how my day is going to look in terms of the way I organize things,” says Jessica Stadler, performance coach and founder of Ignite & Empower. “I also teach this to my clients so that they are performing at their highest within their business and for themselves.” 

On the contrary, starting the day by hitting the snooze button before gulping coffee and checking emails might not set you up for success. But when it comes to any ritual, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. It has to make sense for your lifestyle and personality, and implementing any new habit requires trial and error. Here are four tips to make your mornings work for you. 

Mix and match success habits

Kaeufer and Stadler both say that a well-designed morning includes movement, mindfulness, and intention-setting. From keeping a gratitude journal to getting some exercise and from writing down your goals for the day to grounding yourself with meditation, there are countless ways to incorporate success and happiness-boosting practices.

So why limit yourself to templates that seem unappealing to you? Play around with different habits and find out what works best for you. 

Start small and build on it

“Pick one thing you want to start with, then perfect it and build on that,” says Stadler. And remember that done is better than perfect. “Sometimes we want to go from zero to superhero, trying to implement five new habits at the same time — exercising, yoga, meditation, eating healthy, saying goodbye to coffee, etc.,” says Kaeufer. 

“When your brain thinks your morning routine is too much to handle and it’s just too hard to do all those things, you will struggle to follow through. Start with five minutes of meditation in the morning or a couple of push-ups instead. Once you’re used to doing something for yourself first thing in the morning, you can add additional habits to your routine.” 

Stick to it for a while and then adjust

While creating a personalized morning routine will require tests and tweaks, you won’t be able to reap the benefits of a new practice if you give up on day two. “Stick to it for at least 30 days before you give up on it or decide whether it’s for you,” says Kaeufer. 

And if you miss a day, don’t be too hard on yourself. “A lot of times, when something gets messed up for the day, people think that they failed all aspects of their new routine,” says Stadler, who recommends you simply pick up where you left off until you’re really used to a new habit. 

Look at it like self-care

Understand that your morning routine is a form of self-care rather than another task on your to-do list. “Do something for you rather than jumping into work mode and getting into this fast-paced mindset,” says Stadler. “That way you are taking care of yourself first before taking care of everybody else.” 

“Ask yourself: ‘How would the healthiest and happiest version of myself start the day?’ That’s how you will find what’s best for you,” says Kaeufer. 

Have a short version for hectic days

It can be tempting to completely ditch your morning ritual during stressful and hectic days, but that’s probably when you need it the most. “Traveling? Heading to the office early? If you can’t fit in a one-hour morning routine, make sure you create a shorter version of it to follow through,” says Kaeufer. 

As with any habit, consistency is key. So be prepared for unpredictable mornings with a short and sweet version of your routine.