When it comes to efficiency and success, habits are king.
Your habits kick in from the second you wake up to the moment you’re asleep. You might not even have an awareness of how much you are NOT actually in control of your everyday life choices. There is this illusion of free will, but, in reality, most of us do the same things every day.
Of all your habits, the ones you have in the morning can make or break your day. Think about the times when you miss your alarm and you have to scramble in order to get out of the door. That one change in routine can make you feel off all day. And you may not think you have a routine, but everyone does. Maybe it goes something like this:
What sets high-achieving individuals apart from others, is the effort they put into optimizing their morning routines, setting themselves up for success. As a former professional athlete, you are one of those high-achievers. And as you transitioned, you experienced first-hand, the loss of routine and structure that has been present for most of your life.
Being an athlete required a strict regime for you to maximize your time each day and in order to reach your goals. Now, outside of sports, you need to create your own daily structure - and the best place to start is in the morning. By developing your own morning routine, you’ll find more efficiency, consistency, accountability and momentum, which are foundational for success. It takes just a few steps to get started.
Reaching the top in your sport used to be your goal. Now that you’re transitioning, it’s important to find another north star. This might be anything from starting a company or getting a new job to improving your health or re-defining your passions. Regardless of what your unique goal is, having a morning routine that works for you will help you achieve it.
This can be a challenge when you first leave your sports career. You may find that the ideal goal for you is to learn who YOU are without your sport defining you and discover your true passions outside of the game. If this is where you are, be open to accepting this as your goal for now.
Now that you’ve defined your goals, take a look at your current morning routine and habits. Grab some paper and write down everything you do in the mornings, if it helps. If you’re unsure, set the paper by your bed and track what you do the next morning once you get up. Once you have a good idea of your current routine, go through the items on your list. Does your routine help or hinder your goal? Do you feel mentally and physically ready for the day, or do you feel like you’re sleepwalking without accomplishing anything? It all starts with your morning, so do your best to honestly and objectively determine what role each morning habit plays into your daily success.
It takes a lot of energy, and self-awareness, for us to make a change, especially one that sticks.
The more tasks we can put on autopilot, the easier it is to navigate and change our mornings.
There is a lot of science behind why this is the case. Brains love to create habits. It makes it a lot easier to navigate life and requires less energy to think about what you’re are doing. Because of this, it is often easier to begin by incorporating one change at a time, then adding another once the first is on autopilot. James Clear calls this concept “habit stacking” in his book, Atomic Habits.
For example, if your goal is to improve your overall health, two habits you could add to your morning routine are drink water and move your body. You can start small by drinking 8 oz of water when you first get up. Once you ingrain that habit, bump your water intake up to 16 oz. After that habit has become routine, add 5 minutes of movement immediately after drinking your water and increase the time once 5 minutes of movement is easy. With patience and consistency, you’ll see incredible changes to your throughout your day!