The way you start your morning will determine your attitude for the rest of the day.
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How do you start your morning -- do you hit the snooze button 2 or 3 times, then jump up at the last minute? Do you set a world record for the fastest shower, throw on some clothes, then wolf down hot coffee and stale donut in the car while you make last minute grooming adjustments? On your commute are you listening to talk radio that's telling you the world is just about to end (stay tuned ...) or speaker-rattling music designed to lift your begrumbled morning spirits on the way to being late (again) to the office? Ever wonder if there's a better way to get going?
Not to brag, but people who know me tend to describe me as a positive and confident person. This wasn't always true -- I describe myself as a "formerly shy, low self-esteem underachiever with a bad attitude." In other words, I was a normal Chicago-kinda guy through my 20's and into my early 30's. And I was mostly frustrated and depressed about my prospects for the good life.
So how did I turn things around? In the early '80's I began to read books on goal setting, listen to motivational audio programs and go to personal development seminars -- 25+ years later I'm now an "overnight success." These resources inspired some new habits, among them a morning "Success Ritual" that has served me well, which I'll share here:
• Morning recitation
I don't know what time you get up, but my dog got me trained to walk and feed him at around 5 am every day (yes, even weekends). While on this morning stroll I recite aloud the following:
My Mission Statement
Per instructions in Napoleon Hill's classic success book Think and Grow Rich, years ago I created "a statement of chief definite aim," then committed it to memory. I now recite it every day so that the vibrations of sound can reach my subconscious mind. According to Hill this exercise is the starting point of all "riches," both monetary and otherwise.
I learned from Brian Tracy that using positive affirmations as you start your day is a key to thinking and feeling positive most of the time. If doing this is good enough for a successful person like Brian Tracy, it's good enough for me. So I use several custom-made affirmations to reinforce my belief in my capability to achieve whatever I want.
I would never describe myself as "religious" in a traditional sense. Yet I want to give thanks to God for all my blessings which are far too numerous to count. So I put these thoughts into words with the belief that "Someone" actually hears them. And I make a point to bless all of my friends, family, associates, clients and prospects -- past, present and future ... covers just about everyone, doesn't it?
This recitation takes all of 5 minutes. Yes -- there are probably people who drive by at that early hour who are wondering who the crazy guy is that always seems to be mumbling to himself or his dog. They have no idea I'm in the process of using "mental floss" on my attitude!
After the dog is walked, I come and and sit down cross-legged on a little cushion for a 5 - 10 minute meditation/visualization session. With eyes closed I take a few deep breaths, then initially try to clear my mind of all thoughts. After a minute or two I begin to picture the outcomes of the goals I've set for myself as vividly as possible. For example, I will picture a certain number of coaching client folders in my file, or a picture of an investment statement with my financial goal on it. I have not found the need (nor do I have the patience!) to go longer than this -- the key is: I never miss a day, even when I've been out late the night before.
• Health shake
I've never been a breakfast eater -- seems like nothing's happened yet to work up an appetite. I found that when I just had coffee around 10 am I would get hungry. So several years ago I began to make my own version of a "health shake," which is tasty, nutritious and keeps the mid-morning sag away.
• Motivational audio program
I leave most weekday mornings by 7 am for the commute to my office, and I have the habit of listening to a motivational/inspirational/educational audio program. It's not that I dislike music or talk radio -- it's just that these don't put me in the right frame of mind on my way to being a great coach for my clients. And the ideas I learn can put money in my pocket; when I share them with clients it can put money in their pockets too.
• Morning reading
Before I get to the office I stop for coffee at a local Starbucks for about 20 minutes. In order to fulfill my annual learning goal of at least 40 books per year I always carry a book that will give me ideas to help me succeed. These range from biographies of successful people to sales, marketing, networking, business or personal development. I heard a quote that goes, "If you want to be in the top 10% of your field, read an hour a day." I have averaged 5 hours per week of reading and listening to material related to coaching for the past 10 years, and lo and behold: According to a study, I am in the top 10% of earners for coaches -- what a surprise, huh?
I'm not suggesting you do your morning Success Ritual exactly the same way I do. For example, you may find that working out in the morning while listening to a motivational audio works best -- fine. Morning prayers from a prayer book? Great! I just want to encourage you to pick some "attitudinal fitness exercises" every morning to inoculate yourself against the deadly unseen "negativity virus" that pervades our culture. By taking this on to start your day you'll first build and then maintain a positive attitude, which will lead to a successful day. String these together and you have the foundation of a successful and happy life.