I’m going to go at risk of sounding like a cornball over here, so you’ll have to bear with me. Have you ever played a video game like ‘World of Warcraft’ by any chance?
Fun fact, I was actually extremely addicted to it for years. I remember when I was 14 years old I stayed up through the weekend, and as I entered school on Monday morning I fainted.
Not my greatest moment, I agree. However, there were multiple aspects of World of Warcraft that were golden nuggets in achieving high goals in life. World of Warcraft is a highly-competitive game, and as such it requires that you put in more work than everyone else if you wish to be better than everyone else.
Along with the routine grinding that is World of Warcraft there is something that struck out to me. A very minuscule detail that can be applied very easily. So at the beginning of any big fight, it’s essentially required that every player utilizes their ‘buffs’ available. Buffs are essentially spells that grant you certain benefits for a certain amount of time, such as ‘Increased Stamina for 20 Minutes’ or ‘Spell Cast Time Reduced by 5%’.
As I said, these buffs are required if you have any sort of desire to win a high-level fight, the developers of the game made sure through the difficulty.
But how does that have to do with anything at all in real life? This is a children’s game and we can’t magically grant ourselves an increased stamina buff for 20 minutes (without the use of drugs). Well, I’d say we take a step back and look at it from a broader perspective. At the end of the day, it’s simply a method of preparation for a big tussle that is about to occur.
Let’s face it, life is tough. You may think you have it all figured out, and before you know it you get a call that your dog just got cancer. It’s dark, but that’s life. Life is a big tussle, life is a big boss that you have to beat. You can try and do it like it’s no problem, and some actually do, but not the grand majority of us.
Every high-performer on this planet has a form of preparation for life. This preparation manifests itself in the form of a morning routine. Morning routines are the real-life equivalent of casting buffs on yourself for the enduring day. Increasing your mood and focus for the upcoming boss fight that is life.
Don’t believe me about this morning routine stuff? Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson wakes up at 4 o’clock in the morning every day to start his day. After that, he hits some cardio and some weights. Barack Obama has a similar routine, starts his day off with some cardio and some weights.
There are countless more examples: Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, (the late) Steve Jobs, Gary Vaynerchuk, and many more.
A successful life is a culmination of a succession of many successful years which are a succession of many successful days. So to achieve success, you must master each and every single day. And as I said, life will come at you unexpectedly every chance it can. Ask anyone involved in World War II.
So preparing yourself, much like in World of Warcraft, isn’t optional, it is absolutely fucking required. We must take every opportunity to prepare ourselves with every possible weapon so that regardless of what happens we always maintain this intact: Our focus, our drive, and our frame.
Focus: Your focus is your aim, and it is where you’ll end up with each and every task that you do. If your goals were a target and you were an arrow, your focus would be your aim. But like archery, there are many things standing against, such as distance and wind-resistance. In life, you have these things as well, except in the form of much more traumatic and personal events. A morning routine can help you refine your focus so that you are less likely to miss your target.
Drive: Going back to the archery metaphor, if your focus is the quality of your aim, your drive is the force you generate when you pull back the drawstring. There are many things that can suck out your energy like a vampire. A bad breakup, for example, is one thing that can completely drain you of all your vigor. You are the one responsible for making sure this doesn’t happen. It is up to you to be able to summon the power to overcome incredible mental obstacles such as that, and a morning routine I believe is a great ‘buff’ for this purpose.
Frame: This is going to be a little difficult for me to explain because admittedly, I’m still learning this myself. Your frame is the disposition in which you take on any objective. So if we go back to archery, your frame would be your disposition to actually shoot the arrow into the target. Your frame is (in my opinion) the most important part, and frankly, the most sensitive. To hold a frame is to be confident and totally decided onto a decision, I’m not talking about rigidity or stubbornness, but rather the conviction, to carry through what you’ve set out to do. A morning routine can be the sharpener of your frame, making sure it never dulls.
I hope I’ve sold you on the idea that you should take on a morning routine. But that itself presents an objective, what should be included in your morning routine? I’m going to list off a few things you can use because I personally use them myself. I’d like to say that I’m extremely appreciative of these tactics I use because of the number of benefits they have provided me in these past two years. A word of warning, however, while some don’t have extreme scientific backing, there is substantial anecdotal evidence that warrants at the very least giving it a try.
Habit #1: Making Your Bed
We have heard pretty much every self-help guru along with his mother mention this one. The theory is, make your bed first thing in the morning and you’ll start the productivity of the day. At risk of underplaying it, I just want to say this habit has personally done wonders for my life. Having the thought of making your bed first thing in the morning be your initial thought when you wake up immediately puts your brain into the frequency of getting things done, and trust me you will.
The best part is, it only takes like 25 seconds, and will totally change your day. This is especially true when it comes to doing more and more tasks. Because you’re already in the mindset of doing things, proceeding with your morning routine becomes much much easier.
Habit #2: Taking a Cold Shower in the Morning
Where do I even start with this? It’s horrible. You get out of your nice warm cozy bed and get into the bathroom and turn the shower on. You know for a fact that it’s incredibly beneficial, you’ve heard it everywhere. Yet for some reason, you can’t seem to step into this stream of cold water.
That’s it. That’s what cold showers do for you. That inner resistance keeping you from stepping into the cold water isn’t just doing that, it’s keeping you from doing the things you know you need to do to achieve your goals. I bet you feel that way regarding a ton of the things you do. I bet you feel that inner resistance when you have to write your paper, or you gotta get started on that work project.
That inner resistance will be your downfall unless you can muster up the courage to face it. And what do cold showers do? They allow you to deal with it as soon as you wake up. The hardest part of any given task is the initial contemplation regarding whether or not you’re ready to do it. I have bad news for you…
…You’re never ready to do it.
The only way to accomplish anything is to simply just start. You’ll notice that the first 5 seconds of a cold shower are actually the worst. After that, you simply acclimate and your body will open up. Through opening up, you’ll actually realize that the cold water was never that bad to begin with. The contemplation and the fear were the worst of it! Just like ANY task you have to complete!
Cold showers will train your brain to just jump in, and essentially to just not be such a freaking pussy.
Habit #3: A Light Workout
Now it’s the morning, and your body just got out of this resting state of standing still for almost 8 hours. Your joints are probably stiff, your muscles tight, and your brain foggy. It’s time to get the blood pumping so that you can have an energetic start to this day.
Trust me, much like cold showers, it’s extremely difficult to begin. Your mind will completely convince you that you’re just way too tired, but this is straight up baloney. This is simply your mind saying the exact words you want to hear so that you can be seduced to not incorporating positive change into your life. Not that your brain is inherently negative, just that your brain doesn’t necessarily like change, particularly that of your habits.
I actually wrote an entire section on a blog post regarding your habits and your behaviors, check it out here.
Now, what do I mean when I say a light workout? Honestly, anything that just gets your blood pumping. I personally prefer the jump rope. It gives you massive amounts of cardio while also giving you massive benefits to your coordination, footwork, and agility. Not to mention it’s fun and you can learn cool tricks on it that you can impress your mom with.
Habit #4: Meditation
Okay, if you want to stop reading now I totally understand even though, yes, it’ll hurt my feelings. Meditation is a way for you to really get deep into your own psyche, and really feel out what state your mind is at for the day. It seems a little bit unnecessary, but trust me, it is absolutely crucial to guaranteeing an incredible day.
The thing is, your mind has incredible coping mechanisms for more horrific things than you can even imagine. We all have locked up trauma that we believe that we’ve moved past, and we’re no longer dealing with. These sort of ‘traumas’ get lodged into our psyche and absolutely drain us of both our mood and our energy, and the most effective way I’ve found to reveal these traumas is to get deep into the psyche and find them.
You may not think you have any ‘traumas’, but just take my word on it, every single person on this planet has trauma one way or another, and confronting it and consciously releasing it will start your day on an incredible note.
So how do you meditate?
Alright, well you’re going to have to really push yourself on this one. Out of all the morning habits we’ve mentioned, I will say this one is the most difficult. Using the World of Warcraft analogy, this buff is extremely powerful but required a lot of mana and a long cast time.
So first things first, you want to set the timer on your phone to go off in 20 minutes. So sit down, get into the lotus position, and simply breathe in through your nose, and breathe out while making the “Ooohm” sound.
You’re going to get flooded with tons of thoughts talking about a ton of things. All I want you to do is to try to catch yourself every single time your mind drifts away and to place your awareness back on your breathing. You might start to feel uncomfortable, that’s fine, simply take awareness of it. At some points, you might even feel a little claustrophobic, again just be aware of it and take your awareness back to your breathing.
Over time you’ll notice that all these pressuring feelings actually came from a much deeper place, but by bringing awareness to them, and simply letting them go, you are releasing feelings that would have been clogged up in your psyche.
As I’ve said over and over again, life is extremely tough. And even with tons of energy, drive, ambition, and focus, life will still find a way to thwart your progress. We will fall many many times, and we have to be able to let go of our falls and traumas. To give you an example of how these traumas take effect in your life, visualize it like this.
Anytime you go through a stressful situation you are taking it in the form of a pebble and putting it in your backpack, which weighs like 15 grams so no big deal. The thing is, after years of difficulties and a multitude of horrific events (which happen to everyone), you end up with a backpack that weighs like 200 pounds.
No amount of energy, drive, ambition, and focus will make this weight feel any lighter. It will drain you of your energy until you have nothing left. And for that reason, it is absolutely vital that you learn to let go of these traumas and allow your energy to flow. Through meditation, you take off those straps that seem absolutely driven to slow you down off, and let that useless heavy backpack fall on the floor.
What does meditation cost you? 20 minute cast time, 0 energy. And what do you gain from meditation? +50% resistance to stress +30% emotional control +100% gain in depth of experience from everyday situations, Duration: 16 hours.
Overall, there is little to no reason to not start meditating.
And You Did It:
You took charge of your day and implemented the routine that buffs up your daily experiences. You now have the tools necessary that will keep you happy enjoying your day, while still giving you the presence and motive to continue pressing forward to make your reality the best one possible.
Well, in Stephen Covey’s book 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, Stephan goes over his theory of the 4 quadrants for daily tasks.
The box you see above intersects importance vs. urgent.
An example of something in Quadrant 1: Urgent and Important could be something like your wife giving birth at the hospital. There is absolutely no doubt that you have to stop whatever you are doing, and immediately get over there.
An example of something in Quadrant 2: Not Urgent and Important would be like starting your gym routine, so that you can get in excellent shape and live a much higher quality life.
An example in Quadrant 3: Urgent and Not Important could be something along the lines of stopping whatever you’re doing because the release of a new Marvel movie is tonight, and you don’t want to miss the premiere.
And lastly, an example of Quadrant 4: Not Urgent and Not Important is something that does absolutely nothing for you, and has no immediate urgency. Something like sitting down, getting high, and playing video games.
If we want to live an incredible life we must try to stick to only Quadrant 1 and Quadrant 2. Sure, you can poke in and out of 3 and 4, but if you’re trying to make progress in your life and be able to build a reality that is worth living in, your efforts must be placed accordingly.
So while everything in Quadrant 1 is absolutely necessary and essential, if you’re being smothered by everything you have to do in this quadrant, you’ll find progressing and leveling up in your life much much more difficult and slow.
However, everything in that is labeled under Quadrant 2 is specifically geared toward progressing your life. In Quadrant 2 where things aren’t urgent, but definitely important is when you focus on things like working out, which drastically improves your health, your confidence, and tons of other things. Learning languages, which expands your brain in unimaginable ways. Learning an instrument, starting a business, improving your relationships. These are all things that fall under Quadrant 2.
So in an ideal life, where we are free from the minutiae of pointless distractions (which would be labeled under Quadrants 3 and 4), we deal with the necessities of things in Quadrant 1 as quickly and effectively as possible, and shift our focus onto things in Quadrant 2. By doing this we’re able to use our focus on improving our life, rather than simply maintaining them.
So what does a morning routine have to do with this?
While it’s pretty obvious that things in Quadrant 1 should be dealt with and then shift our attention to Quadrant 2 it is much easier said than done. There are an infinite amount of things that are begging to distract us and take us into a place of uselessness and lack of progression.
- Overly stimulating social media
- Highly addictive devices
- Pointless YouTube videos/drama
And tons more.
A quality morning routine gives you the tools necessary so you can take the appropriate actions in performing every day up to your maximum potential. After all, who cares how high your potential is if you can’t even come close to it? With the strategies above you’ll be able to maximize each and every single day so that you can completely revolutionize your life and accomplish the things you probably never even thought that you could.