Wednesday, March 09, 2016

How To Have The Best Day Ever

When I heard not one, but two podcast interviews of Hal Elrod on his book "The Miracle Morning", I had a couple thoughts:

  1. Wow - he clearly targeted people like myself in his marketing effort. And,
  2. It's working because now I want to know more about this "Miracle Morning." 

As a natural morning person, I'm already pre-disposed to wanting to know how to make my mornings more effective. Interestingly, I actually think it's better for someone who ISN'T a morning person. I'll get more into this at the end.

Why Mornings Are So Important

Hal is a classic sales person where everything sounds plausible, but also slightly over the top. Still, the information is solid and can be truly transformative if followed. For example, in chapter one Hal lays out the case for why mornings are so important:
"How you wake up each day and your morning routine (or lack thereof) dramatically affects your levels of success in every single area of your life. Focused, productive, successful mornings generate focused, productive, successful days— which inevitably create a successful life— in the same way that unfocused, unproductive, and mediocre mornings generate unfocused, unproductive, and mediocre days, and ultimately a mediocre quality of life. By simply changing the way you wake up in the morning, you can transform any area of your life, faster than you ever thought possible."
See how it it feels a little over the top? Yet, I still agree. This is the idea of Keystone Habits which are habits that create positive momentum that increases your ability to achieve other goals. That's what having a solid morning routine does. Hal goes into a lot more details into building the case for morning routines in the book.

Here's a quick-ish overview.

Defeat Your Snooze Alarm

Getting up early can be tough (ask Jessi). Here's how to make it easier.

  1. Set your intentions before bed. Either write out, or say out loud what you want to accomplish tomorrow. This gives you a reason to get up early. Personally, I review my todo list before going to bed and say the very first thing I'm going to do out loud.
  2. Move your alarm clock across the room. "This forces you to get out of bed and engage your body in movement. Motion creates energy, so when you get up and out of bed it naturally helps you wake up". In my case, I have an alarm where the light slowly turns on next to my bed and makes the sound of birds chirping quietly and then gets louder. It makes it a little more natural and helps to naturally bring me to the proper sleep stage for waking up. Then my phone is across the house that's set to go off 5 minutes later. I also make it a point to stretch a little in bed before getting up.
  3. Brush your teeth.
  4. Drink a full glass of water. I fill up my cup the night before and leave it right next to my phone. So as I'm grabbing my phone to turn off the alarm I'm also sipping on water.
  5. Get dressed or jump in the shower. 
Since I'm naturally a morning person (and work from home a lot), I brush my teeth and shower in the middle of the day to give myself an afternoon boost. Plus, it's an opportunity to take a break from what I'm doing. Though, if you're not a morning person, this a great way to get going. Jessi does parts of this on days when we need to be somewhere early. The first step is key. On days when I don't identify something specific to do, it's harder to get up.


This is the heart of the book. Hal breaks his Miracle Morning into six parts. The story in the book of how he figured these out is pretty good. I highly recommend reading the book. The idea is to spend time doing each of the six activities. If you have an hour, spend 10 minutes on each. If you only have 10 minutes, spend a minute on each.

Silence:  Most successful people meditate. It's not a woo-woo mystical experience either. It's purposeful thought to calm your mind instead of being in a state of constant rush. I use the Calm app on my phone and either spend my time in prayer or following one of their guided meditations. The days I do it genuinely do feel better and more on purpose.

Affirmations: The idea is not just to state a far off goal, but to affirm the way you'll achieve it. So start out by answering these questions: What do you really want and why? Who are you committed to being to create it? What are you committed to doing to attain it? Hal includes a bunch of extra tips in the book to help make this fun and exciting.

Visualization: This is the "practice of ... using your imagination to create mental pictures of specific behaviors and outcomes occurring in your life. ... imagining exactly what you want to achieve or attain, and then mentally rehearsing what you’ll need to do to achieve or attain it." Here's an example, when I eat out with friends, I tend to go too far in the amount and type of food I consume. So I've started visualizing myself ordering a salad and finding it delicious and filling. I also visualize how good it feels to make a wise food choice. It works.

Exercise: This one is pretty easy. Spend 10 minutes getting your blood pumping. You can use something like the 7 Minute Workout App. I also like the Deck of Cards Workout because of the game of chance element to it.

Read: This is pretty easy as well. Find a book and read it. 10 minutes a day conservatively is 5 pages. That's a 300 page book every other month and can really start to make a difference. In another good book "The Slight Edge" the idea is that over time these books and ideas start to compound and build on each other. I also count audiobooks when reading. I read the Bible and memorize scripture in the morning and then read instructional books in the evening.

Scribe: I started keeping a journal this year and find it fun to track what's happening. I'm also looking forward to reviewing it at the end of the year to re-live events that happened and see how much I (and Elinor and Jessi) change. Usually I give an update on big events that happened yesterday or will happen today. I'll also write what I'm grateful for and write down questions or thoughts I'm mulling over. You can use any medium you want to keep a journal, but there's something great about physically writing your thoughts down. Since I'm on a computer all day, it's keeps it "special" and not like I'm writing another email. There are tons of choices for journals. Here are some of the best physical journals. If you want more structure, check out The Five Minute Journal.

At this point, you know enough to get started. So as you get going, read The Miracle Morning as your first book to get all the details and refine your routine.

Who Is This For?

Hal would probably argue the miracle morning is for everyone because he's in sales and not marketing (which is about defining your target audience). Though, clearly in his advertising effort he's targeted people who listen to business podcasts. So if you own a business and/or have a side hustle (or want one). The Miracle Morning is definitely worth reading and implementing.

Also, if you're someone who hates mornings, you should at least take Hal's 30-day challenge. According to case studies in his book, you'll learn to appreciate and look forward to waking up because you know you're doing something worth while.

As for myself, my absolute best time of the day is first thing in the morning. Like this morning, I work up, stretched, drank some water, sat down and started writing. I don't need extra motivation or a calm mind first thing in the morning. However, around 2pm I start to fade. And by 8pm I don't want to do anything productive. So for me, it would work best as a "Miracle Afternoon". The problem is that I don't have nearly as much control over my afternoon schedule. So to be honest, I'm still figuring out the best time to do this. I've experimented with a couple different times and am still searching for one I can keep consistently while not feeling like I'm giving up my most productive part of the day.

Still, the habits are good and I intend to keep doing them. You should try it too.