“You have a clean slate every day you wake up. You have a chance every single morning to make that change and be the person you want to be. You just have to decide to do it. Decide today’s the day. Say it; This is going to be my day.” —Brendan Burchard
For the longest time I have been on the hunt for the perfect way to start the day. To maximize energy, mental performance, increase happiness, avoid stress, and increase my productivity. Well I’ve done it. I’ve come up with a routine that I follow most days that guarantees me these things. I’d like to share it with you. I’m darn near certain it will work as well for you as it does for me. My challenge to you… try it and let me know how it goes.
The story goes like this
It’s Monday, you’re alarm clock goes off at 5:30AM. Your plan is to wake up a half an hour earlier today, grab a cup of joe and head out for an early morning run. You plan to come back in, cook a healthy breakfast, and head off to work excited about how productive you’ve already been.
- Fast forward to 6:00AM. You’re still in bed.
- Fast forward to 6:15AM. You’re still in bed.
It’s safe, comfortable, secure. Getting out to go on a run would be a break from your normal routine. Staying in and pulling yourself under the covers is now just a habit.
You still get up, grab a cup of coffee, something quick to eat. Maybe a bagel and some juice. You don’t have time to make some healthy. You back the car out of the driveway and start the commute to work. Maybe you listen to a little talk radio, ESPN, or some top 40 station that plays the same songs over and over and over and over again. If you’re lucky Ryan Seacrest is talking about something interesting this morning (I’m an LA guy).
You get to work or maybe school if you’re much younger than me 🙂 and it’s a typical day. A little chit-chat with some co-workers/friends, a few meetings, and a little stress perhaps.
Energy fluctuates, stress gets the best of you, you missed your workout, and you feel like you got nothing accomplished.
So there’s gotta be a better way right?
Jump out of bed
The one wish I hear or the one question I get more than any other is “If I just had more willpower” or “How do I get more willpower?” Well, I already covered that here. Aside from that, the one thing you can do to jump-start your willpower everyday is to jump out of bed.
No shit, I am not kidding. Think to yourself right now just how hard it is to get out of bed everyday. It’s warm, your comfortable, relaxed, there’s no stress, you won’t have to face the trials and tribulations of the day if you stay there. It’s your very own personal safety cave where nothing can go wrong.
Instead of hitting the snooze or dilly-dallying around for a few minutes until you get up, jump out and embrace the day. Show the world you mean business. When your eyes open don’t hesitate for a second, throw those covers off and jump out of bed. Without you even knowing it, it is one of the toughest decisions you will have to make all day, yet everyday you do it. You decide to get out of bed and face the challenges of the day.
Jumping out of bed is actually a great way to start your day with a little bit of willpower mojo.
But today do it a little bit differently. Do it with purpose, energy, and excitement.
I sort of lucked out. I’m not a big fan of sleeping and I like to get up early but I know for some of you it can be a tough one. Here’s a few ways to maybe get a little excited about that alarm going off.
1. Plan something you love to do the minute you get up: Kiss your wife or husband, read a book, do a crossword puzzle, or maybe check out some of the other tips below. You may just love some of those. Make the first 5 minutes of jumping out of bed your time. Spend 5 minutes doing something that you love.
2. Go to bed when you’re tired: I got this from Steve Pavlina. I use to try to force myself to go to bed at a certain time each night so that I get a full 8 hours of sleep. Instead of actually sleeping I’d end up staring at the ceiling frustrated or laying there with my eyes closed thinking to damn much. If it takes you more than 5 minutes to knock out, you aren’t tired enough.
I pretty much get up at the same time everyday. 5AM is the typical eye opener. Sometimes on Saturday I let myself just sleep but most often I’m up by 5. I don’t go to bed at a specific time. I just hit the hay when I’m tired. I usually read a little bit while laying down. If I start to nod off a bit then it’s time to knock out.
On a side note. To increase my sleep quality I use noise and black out sheets. You can also just use black felt over your windows to eliminate any light that comes in and to dull noise. I do use an APP called sleepy pillow. It’s just white noise like rain falling, fire crackling, the beach, as well as some others.
It may take you a week or two to get into the habit of this and feel fully energized but stay with it. It’s well worth it down the line.
3. Get that dang alarm clock away from me: If you wake up to one, keep it way from you. Like far away. Make yourself get up out of bed to turn it off. Nothing more annoying than an alarm clock going off. On a side note, don’t use a standard alarm. Instead, pick a song, sound, or voice that puts you in a good mood. Something that will automatically make you smile when you hear it.
4. Make it consistent: Get up at the same time everyday for 30 days regardless of what you have going on. You’ll set your bodies sleep cycle to get accustomed to it and soon won’t need an alarm. You’ll also most likely feel refreshed and alert immediately upon waking.
5. After you establish the habit, give yourself a little wiggle room: Practice jumping out of bed everyday for 30 straight days. Once you’ve established the habit and it feels like second nature give yourself a chance once a month, every two weeks, or even once a week to sleep in. There’s a good chance you’ll wake up at your new waking time anyhow but it’s nice to give yourself this little treat every so often.
Use coffee to make yourself bulletproof
Dave Asprey over at the Bulletproof Exec might be my new-found hero. His bulletproof coffee as made such a dramatic impact on how alert, focused, productive, and happy I am each morning. I know it sounds a little weird to say that a simple cup of joe can do that but it’s true.
So what the heck is bulletproof coffee?
Most coffee is contaminated with mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are damaging compounds created by molds which grow on coffee beans (among other things). These compounds cause all sorts of health problems like cardiomyopathy, cancer, hypertension, kidney disease, and even brain damage. They also make your coffee taste bitter, like it needs sugar. This is one reason after drinking a cup you may get headaches, feel tired, or have a crash later in the day.
You can often avoid these toxins by using one source coffee. The beans used in bulletproof coffee are just that. To make the drink as directed and to maximize the benefits such as:
- Brain function/memory/clarity
- Fat loss
- Disease fighting
- Brew coffee as your normally do at home. I recommend about 2 cups. Just use your new toxin free beans 🙂
- Use a magic bullet, blender (praise to Nick my roommate who just got us one), or a cup with a lid that you can close so you can shake your coffee. Pour coffee in to your any of these options.
- Add 1-6 tablespoons (the smaller you are the less you’ll need) of grass-fed butter. I use Kerrygold, it can be found in Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Sprouts, and most major grocery stores. You can use either unsalted or salted. I recommend the silver wrapper unsalted.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of MCT oil. You can usually find liquid MCT oil at any health food or nutritional supplement store. You can also order it online here. Coconut oil is also another option as well, is usually less expensive, and easier to get your hands on.
- Simply blend or shake and enjoy. You’ll end up with the most delicious, creamy, frothy, energizing, and brain powering coffee of your life.
No joke, I feel like Good Will Hunting after I drink it. I now use it as my breakfast everyday and on most days have to remind myself to eat my next meal as I am already satisfied and have no appetite from all the healthy fats I took in through the drink.
A couple of cool options are adding cinnamon, dark chocolate, or 1/2 scoop of vanilla grass-fed protein powder to it. I highly suggest trying this every morning for a week as your breakfast. It will rock your world.
Note: You can also try using regular coffee from Starbucks, home brews, 7-Eleven, etc… but I do recommend trying one source coffee like Bulletproof beans or use this guide to help you find one source coffee near you.
Wait, butter and MCT oil in my coffee? Are you for realz?
Most of you have probably heard that saturated fat is bad for you. Well it’s bologna. I hope this post helped to clear that up a little for you all. Most of us under eat healthy fats tremendously and especially the healthy saturated fats found in grass-fed animal products like beef and butter, as well as coconut and MCT (medium chain triglyceride) oil.
Our brains are made up largely of fat and need it and cholesterol to run optimally.
Grass-fed animal products like butter have a very different fat composition than grain, soy, corn, or other types of feed for animals. The omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, CLA content (conjugated linoleum acid), and vitamins like beta carotene, A, K, D,and E make up of grass-fed animals is far superior (1).
The fat soluble vitamins found in grass-fed products help to protect you against heart disease, osteoarthritis and atherosclerosis, as well as a host of other diseases. The higher concentrations of vitamin K2 help to combat arterial plaque (2).
MCT oil is a high healthy fat energy source that helps to maintain healthy cholesterol levels, nutrient absorption (especially E, calcium, and magnesium). It is also extremely satiating, which means if fat loss is a goal for you your hunger will be smushed :). Very little of MCT is stored in the body because it is so easily converted into energy. When combined with the grass-fed butter you have a super meal of sorts that promotes brain function and metabolism function like no other.
Something to remember is that 1/2 the calories from mothers milk is from saturated fats. That just goes to show you how important it is for development of the Limitless self 🙂
I have already written a ton about the benefits of meditation and how to start the meditation habit here.
Just to summarize daily meditation practice helps a host of things including but not limited to:
- Improved concentration
- Less anxiety, stress, dealing with difficult situations and people
- Clears your brain/declutters
- Helps to erase any negativity from the day or previous days
You don’t need to meditate for a half an hour to reap the benefits. When I first started meditating I just committed to 5 minutes. If that is to long for you try just 1 minute on day one, 2 minutes on day two, and keep adding until you find a nice comfy meditation time that works for you.
For beginners the challenge is to shut of that “crazy monkey.”
Try the following:
- Define why you want to meditate. How will it serve you? Are you looking to de-stress, clear your head, relax, all of the above?
- Commit to it. Whatever you do it is most important to dedicate yourself to the practice. How do you get at sports, cooking, painting…. like Allen Iverson said, “I’m talking about practice.” Make it an appointment with yourself. Do it daily. Do NOT skip a day
- Time. Set aside time each day when you know you will not be disturbed. Find a quiet place. It’s even better if the room or area is fairly empty. If you can even dedicate it as “your space” where no one else goes, even better. There is no reason you need to meditate for 30-40 minutes to start. Work your way up slowly. I started with 5 minutes every day for a week. Once I accomplished that I started to do 10 (That’s where I’m at right now). The most important thing is that I am doing it every day!
- Sit quietly with excellent posture. Chest up and shoulders back. Don’t lay down. We want to be fully conscious and aware of what is going on. The goal is to become aware of our thoughts and to let them pass as they come.
- Your eyes can be open or closed. Whatever your preference. Some focus on a candlelight.
- Focus on your breath. In through the nose and out through the mouth. Long, slow, and deliberate. Actual try to focus on the sound. If you need to, count your breaths. Every time you exhale count 1. Work your way up to 10 and then start at 1 again. This method is used to bring you back to center.
- After a meditation session take a few seconds to stretch. To be honest… it just feels good
Some other tips I found to be useful are taking a warm shower before a meditation session. The hot water acts as a natural relaxation technique. Also, it has been said that meditating at 3am is the most beneficial. Well I’ll be damned if I am getting up at 3am but I did find that meditating first thing in the morning was the easiest for me (6:00-7:00am). I am also trying to get a quick session in at night. I find this to be more difficult due to all the distractions and mental stimulus throughout the day.
I’ve found that most stress is caused by focusing too much on the future. Starting my day with meditation has helped me to start my day by being present and I’ve found that it helps me keep that mindset throughout the day.
It’s now easier for me to handle, recover, and adapt to difficult situations, people, and my own emotions throughout the course of the day. My heart rate is much lower, blood pressure is down, and stress hormones like cortisol are kept under control.
Just in case me meditating doesn’t do it for you how about a plug from these peeps:
- Russel Simmons
- Ellen DeGeneres
- Phil Jackson
- Kurt Vonnegut
- And even Einstein practice meditation daily
“Through meditation I found answers before I asked the question.” -Einstein
Move and be free
The benefits to starting your day with movement and activity are endless. Jump start your metabolism, wake up your body and brain, release some positive mojo from those endorphins. Aside from that it really helps to strengthen your willpower and sets you up for making good decisions over the course of the day.
In a 2006 study from researchers Oaten and Cheng, a group of people were given free gym memberships and specific training programs personalized to fit their needs. Those that participated in regular exercise reported the following:
- Decreases in perceived stress
- Decreases in emotional stress
- Decreases in alcohol consumption
- Decreases in cigarette/smoking
- Decreases in caffeine consumption
- Increase in healthy eating and better food choices
- Increase in emotional control and well-being
- Increase in finishing or participating in daily tasks/household chores
- Following through with commitments
- Monitoring of spending habits and financial responsibility
- Improved study habits
- General increase in happiness
I can attest to this with both myself, friends, and clients that I work with. Once you start exercising consistently you get motivated to make other better choices, particularly when it comes to food.
Start small and just focus on moving aggressively for at least 5 minutes each morning. Enough to get a little sweat going, the heart rate up, and a little rapid breathing. If you need some example workouts you can perform at home check these out here, here, and here.
For 30 days try 5 minutes minimum each morning just to build the habit. Do it every single day, don’t miss a single session. Set a reminder on your phone, put a sticky note somewhere you know you’ll see it, make it fun, layout your workout gear the night before or even go to sleep with your workout shoes on if you have to.
Make the easy things easy to do and the hard things hard.
Put up motivating pictures and create a reward for participating. My personal reward after I exercise is often that bulletproof coffee.
More feel good tunes
I wrote about the power of music and the influence it has on our lives in a post found here.
I’ve never come across anything, ANYTHING that can so quickly and easily influence your mood than music. I make it a point everyday now to start my day with a “feel good playlist.” I literally keep a headset plugged into my phone at night and right after I jump up out of bed those puppies go in and I’m rocking out.
Why does this happen?
It’s because music can become a larger emotional stimulus than visual imagery. Music releases chemicals in the brain (dopamine for one.) similar to the way that food, drugs, and sex do. It is why certain music gets you amped up for a workout, calms you down, or makes you feel like you are walking on cloud 9.
Do yourself a favor and create a playlist of about 10 songs that you give you the goosebumps, make you smile, or that you can sing along with. It’s vital that the tunes you are listening to bring back good memories, get your body moving uncontrollably like this, or make you sing out of nowhere. This is no time to be bashful 🙂
Keep this on your hip at all times. At any given moment you may need to revert to it to combat negative emotions, people, or circumstances. NO joke, it just might save your life one day.
You can listen to it while doing all four of the other Limitless morning rituals. Make sure to go back to this post and even check out some of the songs at the bottom that I start my day with (I mix it up a bit now).
- Can you commit the next 30 days to practicing at least one of these?
- What are some of your go to morning rituals that make it nearly impossible for you to have a bad day?
- Let me and the other Limitless crazies know in the comments below