My boyfriend and I were talking about the benefits of waking up early. He sometimes goes for a morning run (!) since it’s not as hot, while I just want some peace and quiet before everyone else wakes up. We’ve both found that it allows us to start our day right and this small win in the morning sets the tone for the rest of the day.
Long gone are the days of waking up at 5 am (I think that lasted for about 2 months, max) but it’s not really the time at which you wake up that counts, as long as you manage to fit in whatever you want to do. This just means waking up early enough to carve out some quality time for yourself before you get down to work or whatever else takes up your day.
I’ve adopted the six steps laid out in Hal Elrod’s book The Miracle Morning, which were drawn from the habits of successful people.
They are arranged into a neat little memorable acronym, called Life S.A.V.E.R.S:
S is for Silence
This can include prayer, reflection, deep breathing and meditation. I’ve been trying different forms of meditation, from guided meditation like the Meditation Minis podcast (works better because I have something to focus on) and the 1 Giant Mind app which just has soothing music playing in the background while you attempt to hold a mantra in your head (not so good because I ALWAYS get distracted).
You can experiment with different things. I find that meditation helps to put me in a more peaceful state of mind. I spend about 10-15 minutes and that’s enough for me.
A is for Affirmations
Affirmations are essentially phrases that you repeat to yourself every day to prime your subconscious mind to go after your goals. A part of your brain called the reticular activating system (RAS) responds to this stuff that is repeated over and over again by shifting your beliefs and behaviour.
Here’s an example that I’ve used in the area of health and fitness:
Achieving success in every area of my life begins and ends with my health and energy. I will commit to maintaining optimum levels of health, beginning with putting healthy, energising food into my body.
I will place more value on the health consequences of the food than the taste, since the taste only lasts for a few moments, but the consequences last a lifetime.
I also commit to exercising every day, even if it’s just a quick workout.
I understand that making a change only takes discipline for a short time, and then a new habit will be formed. I cannot put off my health and fitness, so I will plan to eat healthy food and schedule time to exercise TODAY.
It doesn’t need to be that long… it can also be as simple as this:
My body is getting stronger, slimmer and healthier every day.
Which kind of implies that you have to be doing something in order for this to happen – i.e. eating well and exercising. Both of them have the effect of telling your brain what to focus on.
You can create affirmations for any area of your life or any goal that you’re working towards. Sam Brown has a detailed post on how to use affirmations if you want to find out more.
V is for Visualisation
The idea is that you use your imagination and see whatever you want to accomplish in your mind. Like, y’know, just close your eyes and picture what it would be like to have achieved a goal, or to be doing the actions required to achieve a goal. Like really SEE and FEEL and SMELL it. As though you were actually in the moment.
Apparently, your silly old brain cannot tell the difference between what you’ve imagined and a real-life experience. By practicing the scenario in your head, it becomes more likely that you’ll be able to perform well when it comes time to do it in real life. Michael Phelps uses visualisation to help him win gold medals by mentally rehearsing his victory.
I can’t remember where I read this, but there was some study conducted that showed that basketball players who merely imagined shooting the ball into the hoop performed better than players who had physically practiced their shooting skills. Though I don’t think you can build your muscle by imagining yourself lifting weights… or can you??
E is for Exercise
This doesn’t have to be a full-blown sweat fest, even just a 10-minute routine that just gets your heart pumping a little bit will do the trick. It provides a burst of energy and brings some oxygen to your brain, making you more effective for the rest of the morning. Of course, you can still do your more intense workouts later in the day.
I just find some quick warm-up exercises on YouTube and might also get some stretching in if I did a heavy workout the day before and my body is sore. I like this warm-up routine by Chloe Ting because it’s short yet effective.
R is for Reading
I LOVE reading, so I allocate at least 30 minutes to this. I have a cup of coffee before I start so that I can actually absorb what I’m reading. If you’re a bookworm like me, you can check out what I’m reading on my Goodreads account. Also, send some book recommendations my way! I mostly read non-fiction, but from time to time I will indulge in a bit of fiction.
S is for Scribing
LOL, scribing. What a weird word. I’m pretty sure he chose it only because writing or journaling wouldn’t really make for a pretty acronym… SAVERW? SAVERJ? Anyway. You can write about anything under the sun, moon and sky.
Maybe you’d like to just dump everything that is floating around in your head in the morning – what Tim Ferriss calls “Morning Pages”. The simple process of writing your thoughts down allows you to process whatever is coming up and perhaps resolve it, or just leave it alone.
Either way, it’ll provide some mental clarity. And it’s not meant to be read by anyone, so it doesn’t have to be polished or poetic. Heck, you might not even ever read it again yourself.
Another form of writing is “scripting”, where you write out how you would ideally want your day to go. For example: I had an amazing cup of coffee at this cool cafe and read an insightful book and had a great chat with my good friend and then meal prepped some delicious food and then did an intense workout and then got a lot of work done and then yada yada yada…
LOL okay maybe not really, but you get the point. It’s kind of like affirmations and visualisation where you’re priming your brain and telling it what’s important.
Or your writing could be as simple as listing three things you’re grateful for and three things that would make the day great. Whatever works for you.
I love writing because it captures my thoughts in the present moment and it’s not something that I only do in the morning. I’ve written about the benefits of journaling before (you can get some more writing ideas from this post).
I’m just glad that past me had the wisdom to jot down her thoughts so that present me could look back on them and get a glimpse into what my life was like and what I was like (I had some pretty cringey writing back in 2007 when it was fashionable to talk lykk diis).
And that’s it! Whilst this post was long, this routine doesn’t take that long at all. You can spend like a max of 10 minutes on each step and just require one hour of your morning. ONE HOUR??? I hear you screaming. Yes, you can slowly get yourself to wake up just a bit earlier. Here are some tips:
- Put your alarm far away from your bed so you need to get out and walk to it to turn it off
- Turn your lights on
- Brush your teeth and splash some water on your face while you’re at it
- Gulp down a generous glass of water to rehydrate your body (this seriously helps)
- Get dressed
With the Life S.A.V.E.R.S, you can do the steps in any order you want. Experiment with what works best for you. I’m not too sure about the ‘miracle’ part but I know that spending some time working on yourself in the morning will definitely lead to some amazing results in life.