Updated: May 20, 2020
The secret I’ve learned thanks to doing the routine for 4 years, never skipping a day.
I started my morning routine by a complete accident while working on my mental health.
I used to have suicidal thoughts and anxiety attacks. To survive the day, I embraced a habit of finding 3 things I am grateful for immediately after waking up.
I did it religiously, every single morning.
Later I learned to soothe my anxiety immediately by taking 30 slow, deep breaths. It worked reliably, so I practiced the technique almost daily. Eventually, I started to do it as a prevention every morning after I brushed my teeth.
I was getting better!
So I added push-ups.
Then some stretching a few months later.
I experimented — I added something and took something away.
Over the next 4 years, this is how my life changed:
reduced anxiety by c. 90%
reduced daily fatigue by c. 50%
eliminated the disturbing unwanted thoughts 99%
changed my subconscious patterns radically (in combination with evening journalling)
reduced lower back pain by c. 80%
removed upper spine blockages completely
I’ve run a triathlon despite doctors saying my thigh will never be fully functional after I tore my psoas muscle 3 times
full elimination of seasonal flu
being fit without going to the gym
learned to circulate the sexual energy in the body and improved my sexual well-being
I am literally a different human being today and I believe the Morning Routine had the biggest impact on that.
This is what my mornings look like today:
Wake up at 6am every day
Hygiene, incl. cleaning my face and hands with ice-cold water (10m)
Having a glass of hot water with squeezed lemon while wondering (10m)
Going through journal entries I’ve written the last day (15m)
Strength workout (20m)
3 rounds of Wim Hof Breathing technique (20m)
Bob Proctor Abundance meditation (23m)
Contrast cold shower (start cold — then warm — end cold) (7m)
After the shower, I start my workday.
To make the upgrades you want in your life, it is important to understand, why Morning routine works.
Why morning routine works without exception
The human psyche can change in two ways:
Intense emotional event. Person reevaluates their life views immediately (for instance after a traumatic or near-death experience, childbirth, or a positive peak state experience).
Gradual adaptation process. Once the person is continuously exposed to a stimulus in their environment (for instance new culture peer group at school/work, etc.) they will adapt and change.
Morning routine not only makes your body and mind healthier because of its elements (workout, meditation, etc.), it also changes your psyche because of consistent living up to a higher standard.
The change can be dramatic and this is why:
1% daily growth = 2.700% growth over a year. Unnoticeable daily gains compound over time and create exponential growth, that would be impossible to achieve without daily consistency.
Starting the day triggers a winner-effect — a scientifically proven psychological and biological phenomenon, where few small wins in a row increase the probability of winning larger “battles” throughout the day). That’s why doing your bed in the morning, is recommended by psychologists as well as Navy Seal commanders. Making your bed in the morning makes you become part of the top 27% of the world while having a morning routine, puts you in the top 0,0001% club of the planet.
Self-respect and self-love. Committing to doing what you know is good for your body and mind, and staying consistent with it is an ultimate expression of self-respect and self-love.
The best universal morning routine does not exist. There is only what’s the best for you & right now. That depends on how you want to upgrade your life.
Do you have a pain in your lower back? Put 4 key exercises in the morning routine. Do you have overwhelming anxiety? Adjust your morning routine to get better. Do you want to be more creative? Same thing, different exercise.
Even though it sounds easy and obvious, very few people get it done.
How to implement Morning Routine into life successfully
Despite strong initial motivation, most people fail to implement a sustainable morning routine in their lives.
These are the top 3 blockers of the long-term routine:
Too big to chew. They start with a massive routine that fixes all their problems at once. It becomes overwhelming and they quit. The same applies to routines that keep changing every day — that’s too much to chew at once.
Loss of faith from uncertain results. They are not certain that their routine will deliver results, so they gradually lose faith and motivation until they stop.
“I’ll skip just once”. This is the #1 morning routine killer. “Just once” is never just once.
These 3 blockers are the reason why 99% of the people eventually stop. Handle these 3 things and you’ll make it. It’s that simple.
To do that, apply these principles:
Start small. In the beginning, it’s important to feel a little pride in doing the routine for multiple days in a row. That’s easy when you start small and impossible if you start with a monster. 1-minute meditation, 1 sentence in a journal, 3 pushups, 30 slow breaths can be enough. Whatever is doable for at least 3 weeks. If you want to add more elements to it, do that after keeping the basic version for a while.
Certain results. Knowing the results are surely coming gives you the faith and energy to do the work on the hard days. Not being sure about the results can make it easier to stop. I knew meditation always calmed my anxiety and I knew pushups always grew my chest muscles. That’s why I started with that.
100% is easier than 98%. Commit to doing the routine every single day and for the rest of your life. Doing something 100% of the time is easier than doing it 98% of the time — option to skip a day requires you to decide if you to the routine or not. Not having this option makes it automatic.
When my routine was 180 minutes long and I was in a summer camp, living in a tent for a week, it was impossible to do a full routine. But I would still go to the woods and meditate for 2 minutes on my own, do 30 pushups and then come back.
That’s it. It must happen. Never skip.
Morning routine seems miraculous because once all the activities become autopilot it feels like an effortless exponential growth.
Yes, I made a big statement and I mean it exactly the way I wrote it.
But for that to happen, the 3 principles must be present. Without them, it’s impossible. Especially the 100% rule.
Once you’re ready to upgrade your life through the morning routine, you can select its building blocks to create the most synergies.
The building blocks of the Morning Routine
Before anything in the morning routine — start by making your bed. Making your bed after you get up is the single most important task after waking up. Psychologically, it becomes the first task done during the day and it increases morale, boosts self-discipline, and willpower to do whatever comes next. And even if your day sucked, when you come home, your bed is nice at least.
Benefits: Waking up the body for the day, increased blood flow and oxygenation, increasing basic body strength, healthier muscles, and bones, improved immune system, reducing back pain, spine blockages, fatigue, looking better, and feeling better. You can have an intense workout every morning without going to the gym— using just your own weight.
Beginner: 3-10 pushups (or squats, or sit-ups)
Solid: 10 or more repetitions of warm-up, push-ups, pull-ups, squats, handstand-against-the-wall & sit-ups.
Advanced: Target specific body parts, gymnastic training, strength training, endurance training (running, bike, swimming, etc.) In workout, the options are endless, you can experiment with various exercises to get your results.
Special: If you are solving a particular muscular or skeletal problem, use professional services to help you design the morning exercises.
Synergies: You can listen to inspiring content during the workout or make it a meditative experience (tune into yourself by having your eyes closed and making an inward focus).
Benefits: Waking up the body for the day, increased blood flow and oxygenation, improves mental balance and patience, slows down the mind, improves hormonal balance, increases emotional stability, improves the musculoskeletal system, and reduces pain (if designed properly).
Beginner: Always warm-up, unless you have already worked out before that. To start, get inspired by some of the very basic stretches.
Advanced: Yogic sun salutations, or specific kinds of Yoga (Hatha, Vipassana, Tantra, Hormonal, etc.) Again, the options are endless, based on what feels good and what you want to achieve, mentally, and physically.
Special: If you are solving a particular muscular or skeletal problem, consult a professional to help you design the morning stretches.
Synergies: Can be a part of the meditative experience, flexing your muscles after the workout improves the workout quality
Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear, emotionally calm, and stable state. For thousands of years, the ancient practices of Taoism, Buddhism, and even Stoicism praised meditation as a tool for achieving a great balance between mind, body, and spirit.
In the last couple of decades, modern science is discovering evidence about its benefits too.
Benefits: mental calmness & stillness, improved focus, improved hormonal balance, improved emotional stability, better attention, mental clarity and reprogramming of the subconscious mind
Beginner: 10–30 slow breaths, focusing on the breath and the counting only.
Advanced: Raise the number of breaths to 30–50 or use the app Headspace
Special guided meditations: The aim of guided meditation is to make it easier for you to focus your mind if done consistently, the results can blow your mind. These are the meditations that changed my life:
Tony Robbins Priming is a 15 minutes long meditation I did every morning for a year and a half. It incorporates body movement, yogic breathing technique, and focused intent and works amazingly!
Bob Proctor Abundance meditation is 20 minutes long. It made a difference in the way I see and perceive abundance in everyday life after the 2 weeks of daily mediation already.
Highly advanced: There are 3 additional meditations that can make you experience very deep meditative states that ground you for the day. 1. “Who am I?” meditation by Michael Singer 2. Emotional releasing meditation discovered by Lester Levenson 3. Zhan Zhuang is an ancient Taoist meditation (or a Qi Gong practice) that improves body posture, muscle balance, creates an emotional grounding, restores an energetic balance of the body. 4. Sexual transmutation program—if you understand how sexual transmutation works, you can schedule the exercises and meditations into your morning routine and learn it within weeks.
Wim Hof Breathing Exercise/Pranayama Breathing Technique
The Wim Hof breathing method is a form of pranayama breathing technique that emerged in Ancient India and is practiced for thousands of years. Research (and experience of tens of thousands of people globally) has shown that these breathing methods create powerful metabolic reactions in the body that affect the overall health and well-being.
Benefits: Boost to the immune system, improved concentration, increased willpower and physical energy, alkalinization of the body, better sleep, more oxygenation for the brain and the body, decreased inflammation, improved metabolism.
Basic: Take 30 deep and swift diaphragmatic breaths without a pause, one after another. Then breathe all the air out and hold your breath for as long as you can. When you can’t hold your breath any longer, take a full breath in and hold it for 15 seconds. Then release the air, breathe freely and relax. You can check the instruction video by Wim.
Advanced: 3 repetitions grow the effect exponentially.
Pro tip: When you hold your breath, you will sometimes feel tingling in various parts of your body. Once you get better at it, you can move the tingling around your body with your intention.
Synergies: Doing breathing, meditation, and cold exposure create a synergy that boosts each others’ effects, listening to relaxing music can further deepen the experience.
This technique has been used for centuries to take advantage of our body’s tendency to adapt to harsher conditions and increase its functional efficiency in a natural and healthy way.
Benefits: Boost immune system, increased willpower, energized body, improved hormonal balance, increased the frustration tolerance, getting rid of the seasonal flu, powerful practice for the personal discipline, reduced inflammation, burning fat through thermogenesis.
Basic: Turn the water to the maximum cold. Start with legs and arms, and gradually move up to the chest and head. Breathe deeply and slowly — this is the most important thing. To make it comfortable, learn to relax under the cold water. Don’t push through the cold, become one with the cold and relax into it.
Advanced: Stay longer under the shower (up to 5 minutes) and see how much you can relax.
Hardcore: Do weekly outdoor cold plunges in the winter.
Being one of the oldest self-help tools in the world, journaling is simply writing down what’s on your mind — ignoring the grammar and any rules that exist in formal writing. Regular and consistent journalling with a clear purpose is one of the key success factors of many leaders.
My preference is to journal before sleep on the positives about the day and go through my entries in the morning so that I can build on the success from the day before.
Benefits: Improves clarity, expands the positive life experiences and improves emotional balance, helps to cope with depression and anxiety, increases creativity, work efficiency, upgrades subconscious mind
Beginner: [complementary to the morning routine] Before going to sleep write 1 sentence on each:
Gains — written acknowledgment of your daily growth and learnings make you more aware of your growth and will make you less likely to discount it. What you focus on expands.
Love & Gratitude- the same is applied to the positive feelings + journaling about them makes you go re-experience the feelings again. Where focus goes, energy flows.
“Did I become a better man today than I was yesterday?“— great tool for releasing envy & jealousy. It teaches the subconscious mind to compare oneself with the previous versions of oneself only (instead of comparing yourself with others).
Basic: Once you’re comfortable with 1 sentence, upgrade to a list of the daily gains & love (3–10 items). When you wake up, go through your Gains, Love & Gratitude from the previous day. This overrides any the mental patterns that focus on the negative on an autopilot.
Advanced techniques for the morning-writers:
Morning Pages — tested, verified, and praised technique to improve your artistic flow, feeling fluency, and writing creativity by writing whatever comes to your mind in 750 words (3 pages) every morning.
Goals — writing down your goals each morning creates a massive difference in the subconscious mind.
Write down any idea/quote/aha moment that comes up throughout the day and makes you feel good. Then journal about what comes up intuitively about the idea in the morning.
Synergies: Journalling can be a powerful meditative and trauma-healing experience. I have multiple experiences of suddenly bursting into tears after having a breakthrough during the writing process.
Hydration & Nutrition
I am a loyal fan of intermittent fasting for several years now.
I never eat breakfast and my levels of energy have been consistently higher compared to times when I ate breakfast.
Whether you eat breakfast or not, starting the morning with liquids is a must.
Therefore, my top 3 favorites are:
A glass of hot water with squeezed lemon
A glass of hot water with baking soda and one spoon of apple cider vinegar
Bulletproof coffee — coffee with a grass-fed ghee/butter and a spoon of MCT oil
There are other activities that can be done in the morning:
Reading. Sitting and reading a book can uplift your spirit in the morning.
Listening to inspiring content. Podcast/speech/education video, etc. This can be done during the workout or yoga or can become part of the meditation.
Wondering. Sitting down with a cup of coffee, looking outside the window for 5 minutes, and wondering about the beauties and wonders of the world. I love waking up early and do this for a few minutes every day.
Running. Morning run improves the quality of sleep, speeds up metabolism, and provides energy to kick-start the day. For some people, it’s not that appealing, though, because their bodies are stiffer and muscles are inflexible early in the morning.
Important: Never look at your phone before you must!
The get the most out of the morning, you must stay in charge of your morning.
Noticing any social media notifications, messages, or e-mails makes you think and react to the external world already and makes it more difficult to focus on yourself.
Make the mornings sacred, give yourself the love.
Conclusion A morning routine is a tool that can improve anyone’s life in a way that’s beyond imagination.
It works, because:
1% per day = 2.700% per year. Doing any of these activities, even in microdoses every morning compound over time and create a massive impact on your body and mind.
Winning the morning = winning the day. Winner effect of the morning prepares you biochemically for more success and happiness during the day.
Love yourself. Knowing what’s good for you and doing that consistently is an ultimate expression of self-love.
How to make it work:
Hardcore consistency. Doing it 100% of the time is easier than 98% because you don’t have to think about whether you do it or not. If you skip once — skipping even that 1 pushup or that 1-minute meditation — is breaking your commitment and immediately decreases your trust in yourself (you know you skipped). Never skip.
Start small. Do the version you are confident you can keep for weeks. Then add more. But whatever happens, do the minimal viable version at least. Don’t compromise.
Certain results. Start with what you know will work. Faith that the strategy you choose will bring you results that makes it much easier to stick with the routine.
Morning routine works.
It’s proven by science and defended by a ridiculous amount of successful people.
It also changed my life and now it can change yours. Right now, you’re a tiny step from making it happen.
All that’s required is a decision.