A few weeks ago, a good friend of mine suggested that I read a book by Robin Sharma entitled “The 5 a.m. Club: Own Your Morning. Elevate Your Life.” So, I went online and checked out the description: “Legendary leadership and elite performance expert Robin Sharma introduced The 5 a.m. Club concept over twenty years ago, based on a revolutionary morning routine that has helped his clients maximize their productivity, activate their best health and bulletproof their serenity in this age of overwhelming complexity.” That description really resonated with me since over the past couple of years I’ve developed my own morning routine that I find allows me to start off my day in a very powerful way.
Prior to having children, I never really had an intentional morning routine. My mornings simply consisted of getting up, reading the newspaper while eating breakfast and then getting ready for work. Having children definitely forced the need for more “routine” before leaving the house everyday, however, that “routine” was more forced than intentional. In addition to reading the newspaper while eating breakfast, I was now feeding my children, dressing them, and driving them to daycare/school. My mornings felt very frantic, and, by the time I got into work, I was exhausted. Not a great recipe for long-term success.
Then came my “I better start working out or I am going to die of a heart attack” phase about a decade ago. So, out of my desire to be around for my children for a long time, for the first time I became intentional about my morning routine and added in working out on alternative days. How did I do that? I did it by starting to wake up at 5 a.m. instead of 6 a.m. I went to a workout class at 5:45 a.m. for 45 minutes and was back at home by 6:45 a.m. where I would rejoin the household efforts to get the kids fed, dressed, and driven to school. The benefits of adding a workout to my morning routine were instantaneous – I definitely started to have more energy and was feeling less stressed by the time I got into work.
I settled into this routine for several years until I had that moment in my car at the parking garage at my office that I described in a previous article. At that moment, I knew that I had to take control of how I was experiencing my life – starting with how I started each day. This realization led me to a simple change to my morning routine – swapping the morning newspaper for 30 minutes of self-help reading. This one simple change to my routine had two major impacts on me.
The first major impact was that it put me in a good mood each morning, which was never the case when I read the newspaper. As we are all too painfully aware, most news these days is bad news, and the bad news would always negatively affect my mood. With that negativity gone and the self-help reading much more positivity focused, I soon noticed that my positive mood from reading started to carry over into my workout, and then into my commute – so by the time I got into work each day, I was feeling pretty good.
The second major impact was that reading all those self-help books helped me to grow as a person. With each book I read, I learned something new that I could try out in my everyday life and these new practices helped me to start living how I wanted to start living. Not all new practices worked and not all ideas worked, but even the failed experiments taught me something new about myself. Some things, like meditation and not checking my work emails in the morning until I got into the office, were immensely important in helping me avoid burnout. Based on my own experience, I can attest that, as promoted in the book, a good morning routine that is customised to your needs and includes activities that make you personally feel energized will absolutely improve your productivity throughout the day and is a good step at “bulletproofing” your serenity.
I know that many of us are pressed for time and that adding something new to our morning routine sounds impossible. But it’s time that we start reassessing what is actually working for us and what is not. For me, with no “real” morning routine, I always felt like I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off. And we know what happens to that chicken. Developing a routine that supported my physical and mental health, allowed me to “put my head back on,” to be less frantic and more present for my family and my co-workers.