• PTP Chicago

This Morning Routine Will Make You UNSTOPPABLE!

Updated: Oct 1, 2020

Photo: John Westrock

“Lose an hour in the morning, and you will spend all day looking for it.” — Richard Whately

Life is busy. It can feel impossible to move toward your dreams. If you have a full-time job and kids, it’s even harder.

How do you move forward?

If you don’t purposefully carve time out every day to progress and improve — without question, your time will get lost in the vacuum of our increasingly crowded lives. Before you know it, you’ll be old and withered — wondering where all that time went.

As Professor Harold Hill has said — “You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays.”

Related articles from Peterson Technology Partners blog...

Getting Out Of Survival Mode

It does not matter how successful or unsuccessful you’ve been in the past. Confidence, clarity, and a sense of purpose are all things that need to be established, and re-established, daily.

Each and every day, you have the power to shift who you are, and who you’ve been.

For most people, their morning begins the same way it usually does, by being triggered almost immediately into a subconscious cycle. They pull out their phone, go through their apps, get out of bed on the same side, and then go about their day.

Their physical body has become their mind — and due to the repetition it has experienced, the body can go through the day in an automatic and subconscious way. You eat the same unhealthy foods, distract yourself at work in the same ways.

Your body is a chemical system — and the chemicals your body releases produce emotions. Those emotions are tied to memories. So, when you pull out your smartphone out of habit, your body has taken over your mind, and it is seeking the dopamine chemicals that it has become habituated to. Your body becomes your mind because your physical body quite literally is your subconscious mind. And your subconscious mind makes up around 95% of your behavior.

This is why change can be so difficult. Change is always emotional. You have to decide, very intentionally, who you are going to be every single day. If you don’t make the decision who you will be and how you will act, then your body will go through it’s cycle seeking the same chemicals and emotional states that it has become accustomed to.

In order to become someone different, you must do something different, today. You must act in ways that are more reflective of the emotions you want to experience in your future, rather than living out the emotions of your past. The only way to do that is to wake up and intentionally decide who you will be and how you will act.

If you don’t start your day with intention, you are living in survival mode. Your time is, without question, moving faster than you want it to. You’re stuck in the past. You’re stuck living out the same experiences and emotions and patterns, over and over and over.

This is not a fun way to live life. Yet this is how most people are living in today’s heavily stimulated and addicting world. We are spending more and more time in subconscious and distracting cycles. More of our time is being taken from us because we’ve allowed our bodies and the external world to govern our lives.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can make the decision right here and now to create a new pattern. Rather than living in the past, you can create a new future. But there’s a catch. The past is known. The emotions you’ve become used to experiencing are known and predictable.

One of the primary reasons people stay in even life-threatening addictions is because they know the outcomes of their behavior. The human brain really likes being able to predict the future. Thus, people want their lives to be predictable even if what is predictable is absolutely painful and horrible and regretful.

If you want to become someone new, you have to do something where you cannot entirely predict the outcome. You have to do something different and new, and this will freak you out. When you do something new, your body will experience new emotions, and it will quickly seek its homeostasis. As Napoleon Hill said, “A good shock often helps the brain that has been atrophied by habit.”

If you’re willing to live with intention, and to make new decisions, there is a cost. That cost is emotional. Are you willing to deal with difficult emotions? Are you willing to move forward into your future without being able to fully predict the outcome?

According to some psychologists, fear of the unknown is the basis of all other fears. The unknown is what freaks us out, because we hate not being able to predict exactly how something will happen. Emotionally, this rocks our world. Based on loads of research in psychology, one of the primary attributes of successful people is having a high tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty.

Are you willing to make new decisions and live a less predictable life?
Are you willing to operate with faith and vision, rather than regret and being stuck in the past?
Are you ready to become a new person; one who lives their life based on what they are striving to create in their future?

If so, then this morning routine will transform your life. You will quickly learn that you can actually change your entire personality. Personality is not something that is or should remain permanent. Rather, your personality is based on the memories you have and the behaviors you repeatedly perform. Your personality is the decisions you make. If you make new decisions and thus experience new emotions and create new memories, then you will change your personality.

Who you are and who you become is up to you. But only if you get out of your emotional and subconscious pattern.

Optimizing Your Brain In The Evening And Morning

According to Benjamin Franklin, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” A life-changing morning routine doesn’t just happen. It must be designed and planned for.

According to Stanford Psychologist, BJ Fogg, design trumps willpower. If you simply take a few minutes to set up the environment, then the decision has already been made for you. For example, you can lay your clothes out the night before so you don’t have to think about what you’re going to wear. You can pull some dental floss out and lay it on the counter so you don’t have to make the decision whether to floss or not.

Your evening routine is about taking the decisions out of your morning. You want to wake up already knowing exactly what you’re going to do. You want to wake up with the confidence of a plan so you don’t have to exhaust willpower to get yourself going.

This Evening Routine Guarantees Success The Next Day

This is one of the most pivotal things you can learn — to set yourself up the night before. Your brain is generally more analytical at night and more creative in the morning. Your evening is the perfect time to take 5 or so minutes planning out your next day.

Your evening is also a really good time to reflect, relax, and recover. Here are the keys to a perfect evening routine to set your next day up for you success.

1. Write In Your Journal About What Happened That Day

There are several reasons and ways to use a journal. Your journal can be place to record and account the experiences you’ve had and the things you’ve learned. The evening is a solid time to take 5–15 minutes writing down the events of your day. By doing this, you have a record and accounting of what you’ve done. This is an easy way to track key behaviors and spot themes in your life. Also during this evening journaling session, you can begin detailing your plans for the next day.

This type of journaling is best done on a computer using something like Google Docs or Word. The reason you want to use a computer for this type of journaling is that you probably type 5 times faster than you write by hand. Also, this type of journaling isn’t inherently creative, but more reflective, factual, and analytical.

Taking 5–15 minutes every night to go over all of the details of your day is very enlightening, and it is actually a profound way to also get your mind thinking and planning for the next day. While reviewing your day, you can relive and re-experience your whole day. This will create enormous feelings of gratitude. Also, while you’re reflecting on how your day went, you can immediately begin thinking about what could be done better.

It is during my evening journaling session, usually while documenting what I learned that day, that I get all of my best ideas for what I’ll be writing about the next day. Again, this is essential for someone who is creative, because waking up with a plan and an idea almost ensures you’ll be successful the next morning. Conversely, if you don’t have a plan or an idea, but have to start with a blank slate, this is heavily taxing to your willpower. Design trumps willpower everyday of the week.

Another use of your journal is to write your goals and dreams and ambitions in vivid detail. Doing this in the evening is powerful because it triggers your subconscious mind to ruminate and think about it all night while you sleep. However, the morning is most likely the best time to be thinking and writing in terms of your big picture dreams, because by mentally and emotionally envisioning those dreams, you trigger the emotions and experiences you intend to create in the future. Doing this first thing every morning is how you trigger yourself into the state of being you plan to become. This is how you live with purpose and intention. This is how you get out of the trap of the past. This is how you consciously design your subconscious, rather than having your subconscious control you.

More on this type of journaling in the morning routine section.

2. Make Brief Plans For What You’ll Do The Next Morning

“If you have more than three priorities, you don’t have any.” — Jim Collins

If you have a big to-do list the following day, you probably aren’t using your time in the best ways. In the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr. Stephen Covey explains the difference between activities that are urgent and those which are important. He actually created a useful matrix to explain how the most effective people use their time vs. how most people use their time.

The 4 categories of activities include:

  • Important activities that are urgent (they must be done now or soon)

  • Important activities that are not urgent

  • Unimportant activities that are urgent

  • Unimportant activities that are not urgent

Below is a simplified matrix of how this work:

Here is another matrix of how you should handle all of these activities:

As you begin living your days better and better, you’ll become clearer on what matters to you. In the important book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown says, “You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.”

Almost everything is a waste of time. The better you get with your time, the less you tolerate things that are not making an impact on your goals, values, and priorities. You get in life what you’re willing to tolerate. Most people tolerate spending huge amounts of their time on things that don’t inspire them because they aren’t clear on what they want. They aren’t clear on what they want because they haven’t begun acting right. Clarity and inspiration follow positive action.

The clearer you get on your goals and values, the more narrow and focused you become on your priorities. You begin to embrace Derek Sivers’ mantra: “No ‘yes.’ Either ‘HELL YEAH!’ or ‘no.’”

Here’s exactly what Sivers’ said:

“If you’re not saying “HELL YEAH!” about something, say “no”.
When deciding whether to do something, if you feel anything less than “Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!” — then say “no.”
When you say no to most things, you leave room in your life to really throw yourself completely into that rare thing that makes you say “HELL YEAH!”
Every event you get invited to. Every request to start a new project. If you’re not saying “HELL YEAH!” about it, say “no.”
We’re all busy. We’ve all taken on too much. Saying yes to less is the way out.”

This is how you need to view your time. This is how you need to view your relationships. HELL YES or no is how you view your planning the evening before.

  • What are the few things that are absolutely essential to making tomorrow a truly amazing day worth living?

  • What creative work do you want to do?

  • What experiences do you want to have?

  • Who do you want to connect to?

Don’t place any limitations on what you’re willing to do. Remember, you’re no longer living the predictable life you have in the past. You’re no longer going to be enslaved to the emotions that your body is currently addicted to.

Not anymore. Instead, you’re going to live life on your own terms. You’re going to create the future you want. You’re going to operate out of the emotions that inspire you. Therefore, you’re willing to embrace uncertainty and ambiguity. You’re willing to feel the fear and do it anyways. You’re willing to act in bold and powerful ways, knowing that the more bold and emotional the action, the more memorable and transformational the outcome.

Hell yes or no. That’s how you live your life. That’s how you prioritize your time. And therefore, that is your benchmark when you’re creating your plans for the next day.

During your evening journal session where you record what happened to you during your day, give yourself a score for the day on a 1–10 scale. Was your day a 6? 7? 3? 9? 10?

When planning your day, decide what would make the next day a 10.

It shouldn’t be a lot of things. Instead, it should involve the few essential things that mean the absolute most to you.

What creative outlet do you need to engage in to fill your soul and move your dreams forward?
What spiritual experiences do you need to engage in to deepen your connection to yourself and God?
What conversations do you need to have to move mountains in your career and self-improvement?
What experiences do you want to create with your loved ones to deepen those relationships and ensure they are your greatest asset and joy?

3. Put Your Phone On Airplane Mode

“Wherever you are, make sure you’re there.” — Dan Sullivan

An hour or so before you go to bed, put your phone on airplane mode. You don’t want to be alerted of anything just before going to bed. You want your evening time to be completely present, reflective, and imaginative.

You don’t want your mind to be bounced around like a ping-pong ball with notifications, disruptions, and distractions. You want your mind to relax and recover. You want to be completely mindful of the people around you; and you also want to give your mind room to begin creating ideas for your next morning.

If you give your mind space at night, you’ll get more inspiration and ideas than you know what to do with. Your evening can become the most spiritual and deep part of your day. While the morning has an intense energy of doing and creating, your evening can have a serene energy where deep gratitude, beautiful experiences, and exquisite inspiration flow.

When you wake up the next morning, keep your phone on airplane mode. In order to become a better person than you were the day before, you need to spend your morning visualizing — mentally and emotionally — the future you want to have. This is how you create the emotions you want to experience in the future here-and-now so you can then operate from higher-level emotions than you have in the past.

Be → Do → Have

Your state of being is the emotional state you are operating from. This emotional state influences the powerful and decisiveness of your decision making. Your decisions determine your destiny.

Zig Ziglar said, “You have to ‘Be’ the right kind of person first, then you must ‘Do’ the right things before you can expect to ‘Have’ the things in life that really matter. Be, Do, Have.

If you check your smartphone first thing in the morning, then your body has become your mind. You’ve immediately reverted to your subconscious cycle and you’ve granted complete control to your physical body and its addiction to various emotion-inducing chemicals. As a result, most people’s lives are quite predictable. All you need to do is look at a person’s past to predict their future. Indeed, personality is predictable.

But again, personality should never become permanent, and your life should never be predictable from your past. Instead, you should continually be learning new things everyday. And true learning means you’ve reshaped your memories and have learned new and better ways to operate in the future. If you don’t see and operate differently in the world, then you didn’t truly learn something.

This Morning Routine Will Make You A Millionaire

If you’ve set yourself up the evening before, then your chances of winning the next day are optimal.

Design is far more powerful than willpower. You must be intentional. You need to set yourself up for successful. If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. Willpower is for people who are still uncertain what they want to do with their lives. Willpower reflects internal conflict, indecisiveness, and a lack of intentional design.

The following are essential ingredients to a morning routine that allows you to live every day of your life in a peak and heightened state. If you do these things every single day, your life will quickly and continuously evolve. You’ll continue to grow and transform at rocket-speed. While most of the world is living repetitive and predictable lives, you’ll be experiences new galaxies of growth regularly.

Here are the ingredients you want to start your day with. You’ll notice that these are mostly principle-based, rather than direct applications. The exact behaviors and choices are up to you based on the specific goals you’re pursuing. But the principles remain the same.

  • Rise Early — ideally at or before 5AM.

  • Super-hydrate — 20+ ounces of water immediately upon waking up.

  • Connection — through prayer and meditation, you want to seek connection to yourself and God.

  • Visualization and emotion — you want to imagine your ideal future and you want to generate the emotions you will experience in that future. You also want to generate and fully experience gratitude for future events before they happen in order to trigger your brain and body to anticipate these future events. You attract what you are.

  • Novelty and nutrition — the two things your brain needs to be optimal and remain young.

  • Creativity — you need to put first things first, which means you do your most creative and important work first thing in the morning. If you don’t, you’ll never know what true productivity means.

  • Courage — every day, you need to do something different and outside your current comfort zone. Courage is the starting point of all growth and evolution. It takes courage to embrace the uncertainties of unpredictable outcomes and new behaviors.

Rise Early (Ideally At Or Before 5AM)

“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”— Friedrich Nietzsche

Waking up early is not difficult for people who are driven by a mission and purpose in life. If you have something important to wake up for, you won’t want to hit the snooze button.

When you become a time-hacker, and begin to realize that you can expand your time 10X, 100X, and 1,000X, you take your mornings extremely seriously. Your mornings are where the magic happens. In fact, you’ll come to love your mornings so much that you’ll be tempted to wake up earlier and earlier and earlier — so that you can get more and more done.

People who know how to use their mornings get more done by noon than most people get done all week. If you learn how to use your morning, it won’t surprise you if you move the needle on an important project, exercise, and read an entire book before 10AM.

Waking up early is also easy if your evening before was truly restful and sweet. A recovered mind translates to a recovered body. Your evening is the easiest time to self-sabotage. If you begin falling apart in the evening and reverting to your subconscious and bodily addictions, then you won’t have powerful mornings.

Your evening routine really matters. It needs to be restful and rejuvenating. Your evenings must become more inspiring and serene. You will never master your mornings until you take control over your nights. When you learn to behave accordingly at night — and not fall into addictions — you will sleep well. When you sleep well, waking up early will not be hard. It will be a joy. You’ll jump right out of bed and immediately begin moving because you’re so exciting about the future you’re creating and you’re so exciting about the new and positive experiences you’ll be creating.

You’ll be acting as a agent rather than operating as an object. Most people are objects that are being acted upon by either the external world or their own body. When you become an agent, you act with intention and definiteness of purpose.

Super-Hydrate (Drink 20+ Ounces Of Water Immediately Upon Waking Up)

If you use an alarm clock, put the alarm or your phone on the opposite side of the room so you’re forced to get out of bed in order to stop the beeping. Setting up this type of alarm is a forcing function.

Forcing functions are all about designing the right environment so that desired behavior is the automatic and willpower becomes irrelevant. Design trumps willpower.

As soon as you get out of bed, walk to another room in your house and get a giant glass of water. You want to super-hydrate your body first thing in the morning to re-energize your brain and body.

Hydration is essential to a fully functioning brain. Also, the water will wake you up quickly and make you alert and ready to get moving.

BONUS: Take A 60 Second Ice-Cold Shower

The first thing Tony Robbins does when he wakes up is he jumps into a 57-degree Fahrenheit swimming pool.

Why would he do such a thing?

Cold water immersion radically facilitates physical and mental wellness.When practiced regularly, it provides long-lasting changes to your body’s immune, lymphatic, circulatory and digestive systems that improve the quality of your life. It can also increase weight-loss because it boosts your metabolism.

A 2007 research study found that taking cold showers routinely can help treat depression symptoms often more effectively than prescription medications. That’s because cold water triggers a wave of mood-boosting neurochemicals which make you feel happy.

In less than five minutes upon waking up:

  • you could hear your alarm

  • get out of bed, walk to the bathroom

  • drink a cup or two of water

  • step into the shower for 60 seconds

  • and dry-off

Have the cup right next to the sink so it’s easy to fill up. Design trumps willpower. It’s all in the set-up.

It’s now 5:05AM and your body is hydrated and activated. Your brain is flooded with dopamine and other happy-chemicals. You’ve already done one thing today that took intention and choice. You’re creating immediate momentum for having the best day of your life. You’re getting yourself deeper into a flow state. You’re putting yourself in the right frame of mind so you can meditate and pray with purpose, and then visualize your future with energy and enthusiasm.

You can top all of this off by putting on some clothing that triggers you into a state of being awesome. Immediately upon getting out of the shower, I get into dress clothes — a white shirt and tie. This puts me into a great frame of mind for all of the other activities in my morning routine. I don’t spend much time getting my hair ready. I just throw these clothes on so I’m feeling good and ready to have a masterful morning. It’s 5:10 and I’m feeling like a million bucks. And these emotions are the very reason I will be doing work worth more than a million bucks. Be, Do, Have.

If you’re freaked-out by the idea of a cold shower, remember that your fear is emotional, not physical. It’s not physically dangerous or harmful or even hurtful to have cold water splash on your body for 60 seconds. In fact, it’s highly refreshing physically. Your concern is emotional, and it is by stepping into those emotions you want to avoid that you evolve beyond subconscious and unhealthy patterns.

Connection — With Yourself And God

“I have so much to do today that I’m going to need to spend three hours in prayer in order to be able to get it all done.” — Martin Luther

It doesn’t matter how fast you think you’re moving, if you’re going in the wrong direction you might as well not be moving at all.

There is a huge emphasis these days on HUSTLING! However, productivity is not about doing a lot of things, but rather, about making tangible progress. Progress is made by making the right moves at the right times. It’s about learning from your mistakes and making better decisions.

Ryan Holiday once wrote in a blog post, “This is a fundamental irony of most people’s lives. They don’t quite know what they want to do with their lives. Yet they are very active.”

This happens way too often. We get caught in the thick of thin things. Far too late do we realize that in our mad rush, we were pursuing someone else’s goals instead of our own.

Spending even a few minutes of time in prayer and/or meditation does more than provide clarity to what you’re doing. These things open your mind up to possibilities you can’t get while busy.

While in meditation or prayer, you will get flashes on insight that allow you to make better decisions. Psychologists call this epiphany ability. The ability to generate epiphanies is something you can absolutely master in your life. Your goal is to begin connecting with the highest and best version of yourself that you can presently imagine.

Albert Einstein has said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

Stephen Covey similarly said, “Live out of your imagination, not your history.”

Your goal is to get into a highly creative, imaginative, and faith-based state. By faith, I’m taking about the conviction and resolve to bring into existence something you want to see happen. Don’t let what you currently see stop you from creating in your mind and heart something far more powerful. Prayer and meditation is how you begin tapping into your creative and imaginative powers.

Visualization And Emotion (And Experience Gratitude For Achieving Those Future Goals)

“According to research on mental rehearsal, once we immerse ourselves in that scene, changes begin to take place in our brain. Therefore each time we do this, we’re laying down new neurological tracks (in the present moment) that literally change our brain to look like the brain of our future. In other words, the brain starts to look like the future we want to create has already happened.
If we are truly engaged in this process with passion, we might begin to emotionally experience our future through thought alone. In fact, when we are feeling the emotions of our future — whether that’s gratitude, joy, freedom, abundance, enthusiasm, love, and so on — the creative thoughts in your mind can become the experience. As the body receives the chemical signals of these emotions, essentially the body is receiving the signal that the event has already occurred.” — Dr. Joe Dispenza

Research on visualization has found that mentally rehearsing something is not enough to reliably create that experience in the future. You need mental imagination and emotional stimulation in order for visualization to be reliable and predictable.

One of the most powerful emotional experiences is gratitude. It is the mother of all virtues. Research shows that gratitude enhances a person’s life in all areas — physical, emotional, relational, spiritual.

While you are envisioning the future you want to create, make that an emotional experience. Truly imagine what it would feel like to have the life you want. Imagine and experience the emotions of achieving certain goals, or having certain experiences. Express deep gratitude for having those experiences. Truly believe the experiences have already happened.

When you express and feel gratitude for the future experiences you are seeking to have, you are folding your future into your present. You are activating your brain and body to experience the chemical and emotional experiences of your future in the here-and-now.

Remember, memories are highly emotional. Moreover, your body and brain and chemically-producing organisms. Neurons that fire together, wire together. When you regularly experience the ideal emotions of your future, you rewire your brain and retrain your biology. Quite literally, you can shift your identity and biology through emotional visualization. Thus, you’re state of being changes. You then want to act and operate FROM THAT PLACE. Be, Do, Have.

When you operate from the most powerful and anticipated emotions of your future, you act with far more power and intention. This is why you don’t want to check your smartphone in the morning. Instead, you want to put yourself in a place so that you are designing and living out your future, rather than re-creating the past.

A very powerful tool for visualizing is your journal. Unlike the journal you used the night before, hand-writing your morning journal with a pen and pad is beneficial to the brain. Writing with pen and pad activates your brain in different ways from typing. Additionally, writing by hand takes much longer than typing, which allows your mind to loosely wander as you write. This mind-wandering is important for creativity, because as your mind wanders, it will make connections in various parts of your brain. Thus, as you’re writing in your morning journal, you’ll become accustomed to getting many ideas through the writing process itself. Again, this is you developing your epiphany ability.