For the last few years, I have done an exercise every morning that helps prepare me to have an outstanding, productive, and happy day.
The exercise has three sections. Each section takes about five minutes.As those of you who know me understand, I believe strongly in creating in our minds first what we wish to achieve in the real world.
I believe in gratitude. So, the first activity of my day, and the first section of my morning exercise, is to be mindful and express gratitude for everything wonderful in my life.
When my alarm goes off, I get out of bed, and as I walk to the kitchen I think about how grateful I am for everything I have. I begin with how grateful I am that I'm alive, that I have a place to live, that I can do pretty much whatever I would like, and for the personal values that I possess.
Next, I express gratitude for all of the amazing people in my life, beginning with those who are closest to me: My family. I get an image of my mind of every family member and express gratitude for that person.
I then express gratitude in my mind for my closest friends. Finally, and to conclude the exercise, I express gratitude for the fact that I have a job that gives me the opportunity to serve others.
Starting your day with an "attitude of gratitude" puts you in a positive state of mind. It is impossible, I assure you, to begin the day in a bad mood or with a feeling of sadness or worry when you have just taken inventory of all the things you are thankful for.
After expressing gratitude, I visualize myself about 10 years from now living my ideal life. I think, as clearly as I can, about where I want to be in the following areas:
Financial/Business. What kind of financial life will I ideally have? How much money in the bank? How much revenue coming in from the business? How much socked away (I never understood that term) for retirement? I get a clear idea in mind of how much wealth I will ideally have in 10 years. I also think about the kind of company I would like to be running 10 years from now, even envisioning what the office will look like, where it will be, and as many other specifics as easily come to mind.
Relationships. What will my relationships be like? Who will be living with me? What will my relationships be like my family and friends? I envision the people closest to me as clearly as I can, thinking about what our relationship will be like 10 years from now.
Health/Leisure. I envision the kind of healthy lifestyle I will have in 10 years. Will I be trim? Will I exercise regularly? What will I enjoy doing? I literally imagine myself in a state of excellent health, being active -- riding my bike or jogging on the boardwalk at sunrise -- I see myself as clearly as I can enjoying an active lifestyle, and I see it all 10 years from now.
"Things." I think about the things I'd like to have 10 years from now. Not in a materialistic way, but in terms of what I see surrounding me in the future. Ideally, what will my home be like? (I'm a person who prefers modest living.) What will my car be like? (I'm a person who prefers a modest car!) Will I have the shore home I've been dreaming about? In my 10 year vision, the things I'd enjoy are all there.
When I do this exercise, the FEELING I get from it is energizing. After seeing those things so clearly in my mind, I look forward to having that life.
In my own thinking, it is essential to have an idea of where you want to be in the future. Does it need to be 10 years from now? Not necessarily. Depending on where you are in life, it might make sense to think about your ideal life 5 years from now. Or it might make sense to think about where you'd like to be in 20 years.
I don't know what time horizon makes the most sense for you. But if it will help you pick a future time you'd like to envision, think of the future as a movie in your mind, and just keep fast forwarding until you feel comfortable that it's far enough away to be motivating, but not so far away that you don't recognize yourself as the main character anymore.
At this point in my morning exercise, I've spent 5 minutes on the first part, and 5 minutes on the second part.
In the last section of the 15-minute exercise, I apply Stephen Covey's principle, Begin with the End in Mind, to my day ahead.I reviewin my mind the meetings, phone calls and any other activities I have planned for that day.
And I consider, for each, how I would like it to occur. For example, if I am meeting a new prospective client for the first time, I'll run through, in my mind and as clearly as I can, that I want to establish good rapport with that prospect ... that I want to convey a sense of helpfulness and expertise ... that I want to remain focused on what they are saying, and to respond to all of their concerns by the end of the meeting. I briefly think through the activities of the day ahead and decide, in my mind, how I want them to unfold.
Then ...After completing the 15-minute exercise? I just move on with my day. It's preparation for outstanding execution. And if you've read about the science of success, you know that a little mental preparation (and 15 minutes is a small investment ... a tiny percentage of the day) can pay off with approaching each and every thing you do with success as your goal.
The morning exercise will benefit you by giving you a reliable, efficient and effective way of starting your day -- and living it successfully.
Many of you have sent me emails in response to the Morning Exercise telling me how much better you feel ... how much more energized and excited you have become about beginning your day after doing this brief set of mental calisthenics.
Keep the cards and letters coming! I'd love to hear how you're using this exercise to prepare for having an outstanding day. Just post a comment below.