Dear Everyone, Please Do These Things!
I have a thing I want to say, and I want to influence you when I say it. I was never all that good with persuasive writing (for example, I probably shouldn’t tell you that I’m trying to persuade you), but I hope to get my point across to someone within the sound of this blog post.
First, Some Personal Background
Over the past year, I’ve been making a lot of changes in my life. Positive changes, thankfully. I started reading a lot of self-help books, and really trying to learn and apply what they say. Side note: I feel that self-help books often have a bad reputation in some circles, people see them as cheesy, cliche, or something that only desperate people try. I imagine there are a lot of desperate people who read them, as desperation acts as an effective motivator. But I can personally testify that they work. Even simply reading them will put thoughts in your mind that you will carry with you. Eventually, that will turn into something positive.
Anyway, so I’m reading a lot of self-help books and I’m trying new things. Most of all, I’m trying to be a better writer. I started a serial over on my fiction page (ArgoForce.com), and needed to keep up with the demand (about 4000 words per month). And I had this dream of my own little shared universe with dozens of stories that I already had in my head but needed to get down on paper. So I started reading some books about writing. Then I came across the first book that really impacted me. It was a small book called 5,000 Words Per Hour by Chris Fox. It helped me understand what was really possible when you set yourself up correctly. Where I was writing about 500 words per day, I realized I could write much more! As a result of reading the book, I decided to begin writing for an hour in the morning before I went to work. This required getting up much earlier, especially since I also wanted some time in there for exercise and a few other things, but this was essentially the start of a very good morning routine. And my daily word count rose to approximately 1500-1700 per day.
The second book I came across was called The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. I’ll embed a video that basically summarizes the message below.
But let me say, unironically and with all the sincerity I can muster: this book has truly changed my life.
Most of the information in there is not new. In fact, you’ve probably heard everything in it at one point or another. But it structured them in a way I could understand. The basic idea is that the single most important contributor to your success is how you start your day. This really resonated with me. In the book, Hal gives six examples of things you can do in the morning. You’ve all heard them. They are exercise, meditation, affirmations, visualizations, reading, and journaling. I decided to do all of these things, that’s in addition to the hour of writing I was already doing.
So basically, my day starts at 5am, and between my miracle morning, my hour of writing, and general day-prep, I’m busy for 3 hours until 8am when I go to work. See my exact schedule below.
And I can tell you that this time has made a difference that is so dramatic, it’s like night and day. I actually look forward to waking up in the morning. It’s amazing! In the time since I started making these changes (roughly around March of this year) I’ve finished writing two books and a short story, read over 100 books, exercised regularly and am in the best shape I’ve been in the last 3 years (still a lot more work to do here, but seeing progress). Most importantly, I’ve found my emotional state to be far above what it was. I’ve cut out the Internet and social media from my mornings, and meditation has dramatically increased my calm. You hear about this stuff and there’s a reason for it! It freaking works!!!!! Most of all, I’ve felt a huge motivation to fulfill my goals, and I truly feel like I’ve taken my life in my own hands.
What I Want You to Do
You know you’ve found a good thing when you want to share it with everyone, right? I’ve only found one other thing that I’m more enthusiastic about than this miracle morning stuff, and I spent two years in Argentina talking to people about that one. This time, I want to encourage you to start changing how you wake up. Here is a good post about some of that, but I recommend reading The Miracle Morning for starters.
In addition to the Miracle Morning, I would add that you have an hour of “deep work” as the above article calls it. AKA work on something creative. Something you enjoy. This could be anything from learning a language, practicing a musical instrument, practicing dance, model building, starting a business, or (in my case) writing. If it’s a creative work, and something you truly enjoy, do it! I believe, from my own experience, that doing something like this will really make you feel like you’ve accomplished something in your day. It will make you feel like you’re living the life you want to live. That has been the case with me.
Obviously, we’re all at different places in life. But I think most of us are living a life of mediocrity, and we don’t even know it. I didn’t know it until recently, and I’m changing that. Every day I look forward to waking up the next day. This hasn’t been the case in my life since I was a little kid. I know from experience that it works. I encourage you to find the same experience. Hint: start in the morning.
Now I have had to give up a lot in order to make room for these extra hours in the morning. I value my sleep, and so I make sure I still get at least 8 hours per night. That means getting to bed by 9pm. I do this, even on Friday night. And in order to do so properly, I have to make a few changes to keep myself from staying up in bed all night. I do this primarily by putting my phone away, half-hour to an hour before I go to sleep. Then 30 minutes before bed-time, I read a book (from a kindle with no backlight or an actual paper book). Avoid screens like the plague in the evenings, and avoid white light. It tricks your brain into thinking it’s still time to be awake.
When I do this nighttime routine properly, I fall right to sleep, and have no trouble waking up in the morning. My hours of sleep, my nighttime routine, and my morning hours have been sacred to me.
My Own Schedule
This is the most recent morning schedule that I follow (I’ve tweaked it over time). I hope it helps give you an idea of what happens, and perhaps a model to start with.
5:00am – Wake up, drink water, brush teeth, go to the bathroom, shave (in that order).
5:20am – Exercise (20 mins) – usually while listening to a podcast about self-publishing.
5:40am – Meditation (10 mins) – I recommend starting with guided meditation, like the Headspace app.
5:50am – Affirmations (10 mins) – I’ve written these down and read them out loud, with vigor.
6:00am – Visualizations (10 mins) – Similar to affirmations. I visualize a “day in the life” of the person I want to be, as well as the challenges I will have to overcome to get there.
6:10am – Reading (10 mins) – This is usually scripture study time.
6:20am – Journaling (10 mins) – I usually make this a gratitude journal.
6:30am – Shower, get dressed (10 mins)
6:40am – Writing Prep – Reading through my outline, running through the scenes in my head, etc.
6:50am – Write! (1 hour)
7:50am – Prepare my morning smoothie (this is my smoothie of choice, it has everything you need to live)
8:00am – Go to work!