Routines are absolutely essential for men who want to be successful in life.
The morning routine you execute is arguably the most important one.
James Clear often says “habits are the compound interest of self-improvement”.
And Jordan Peterson suggests we all need to get a routine going as soon as possible.
“The most consistent win at everything” – Ayn Rand
You might already have a morning routine – either by choice or by chance.
Regardless of your situation, this article will detail all the aspects of a morning routine for men who want to win in life.
1. Build a routine around your goals
When most men begin their self-improvement journey, they jump right into doing what they think they “should” be doing. Or worse, replicate what they see on social media. But this kind of approach is a recipe for disaster.
Instead, it's much more effective to set clear goals and then build your routines around them—that way, you'll know exactly when you've accomplished something and can take pride in the process of getting there.
James Clear often explains this concept using an analogy of the rudders and oars of a boat. Where the rudder is the goal and the oars are the routines. You need to know the direction you’re going before you start building a routine to get you there.
So the first step is to figure out what problems you’re trying to solve and set the goals accordingly. Be sure to set SMART goals, this means
- Specific: The goal needs to be clear and obvious. Losing weight isn’t specific, losing 15 pounds is.
- Measurable: If you can’t measure the goal then it’s not a great one. Becoming a better writer isn’t measurable, publishing 50 articles is.
- Achievable: Ask yourself “can I actually achieve this if I applied myself?”. If the answer is no then it’s not achievable.
- Relevant: Why have you chosen this goal? Is it based on other people's goals? Make sure you truly believe in what you’re trying to achieve.
- Time-based: All SMART goals need to have a deadline. When is it going to be completed?
Once the goals are clear and meaningful enough to you then it’s probably time to build a routine around achieving them.
But whatever you do, don’t skip this step.
2. Start by preparing the night before.
This should be obvious.
But we’re all lacking here.
We're programmed to take the path of least resistance.
We wake up and take the easy approach the same way water always runs downstream. Therefore, preparation is key.
It’s a good idea to have every aspect of your morning prepared the night before so that you don’t have to be bothered with it in the morning. Any additional resistance increases your chances of not executing it.
This will also give you time for other things that are more important than making your eggs or choosing what to wear for work. Here are some ideas for what you can do the night before:
- Set out your clothes (work and gym)
- Make sure your bag is already packed for the activity you’re doing first
- Write the “One Big Thing” you want to achieve for the day
- Make a to-do list and rank it by priority
- Prepare your meals
- Prepare your coffee maker
- Make sure your phone is charging away from you so you need to get out of bed to turn it off
According to a study undertaken by Barclays, we spend an enormous amount of time trying to make decisions on tasks that won't move the needle for us. For instance:
- What to tackle on your to-do list: 27 minutes 11 seconds
- How to manage your daily spending: 26 minutes 42 seconds
- What to eat for dinner: 22 minutes 44 seconds
If you make sure everything is prepared, all you have to do when your alarm goes off is to get out of bed.
Everything else will be on auto-pilot.
3. Get up early.
There’s no avoiding this one, unfortunately.
There's also nothing wrong with waking up early, even if it requires you to go to bed earlier than usual. Make it a point to get your sleep schedule in check before working on your morning routine. If you don't have any pressing deadlines, take some time off so that you can train yourself properly.
According to Robin Sharma in The 5 AM Club waking up at 5 am to execute the 20/20/20 routine is life-changing. This requires you to be up at 5 am and allocate 20 minutes to three highly valuable activities. It could be meditation, writing, coding, stretching, or even walking.
Whatever it is make it count. The results will compound over time.
Also, don’t skip the previous steps! Otherwise, your alarm will go off earlier than usual and you’ll continue to press snooze until you’re back at your normal waking time.
Not only will you ruin your sleep you’ll just feel guilty for not getting up.
If you’ve worked through your goals, you truly believe in them and you’ve prepared your tasks the night before then this should be easy.
4. Make your bed and clean your space.
This is a no-brainer.
But for some men this is like pulling teeth, they don’t want to be told what to do.
Making your bed should be the first thing you do every morning. It will help reduce stress and give you a sense of accomplishment as soon as you get out of bed.
The small wins count!
Here are some reasons why you need to make your bed and clean your space:
- Encourages productivity
- Prevents illness by limiting bacteria prorogation
- Feel more organized and in control
- Sets you up for success throughout the day – small wins count
5. Audit your soundtracks (and build positive affirmations)
Have you ever thought about starting a business, moving overseas, or making a career change?
For 99% of you men, the answer is yes.
But almost none of you actually did anything about it.
You might even be thinking about it right now.
You’ve told yourself you’re not good enough, it’s too risky, or you've convinced yourself you’ll fail. This may be true but it’s beside the point.
We all have these broken soundtracks that prevent us from doing the things we want to.
For me, it was starting this blog. I would often overthink whether I was good enough to write anything, and even if I did no one would even read the posts. So it would be a huge waste of time.
I was overthinking this for about three years. I lost three years because I had a broken soundtrack.
There's an easy fix to this thanks to Jon Acuff.
Step 1: Audit your thoughts, and ask yourself:
- Is it true?
- Is it helpful?
- Is it kind?
Step 2: Borrow soundtracks from people who inspire you and invert old thoughts into better-thinking patterns. Here are some from the book and some I’ve personally collected:
- “Prolific is better than perfect.”
- “I’ll feel better when I’m done.”
- “Pivot, don’t panic,”
- “Writers write”
- “Progress over perfection”
- “People are trying to give me money”
- “It’ll feel awesome after.”
- “Spare change adds up.”
- “Pick ROI, not EGO.”
- “The most consistent win at everything” – Ayn Rand (My favorite!)
- “If it is to be it is up to me”
- “Would the person I want to do this?”
Step 3: Embed your new soundtracks into an item to make them permanent. Significant items in front of you can help a lot. These include
- A Rock from the top of a mountain you climbed
- A necklace engraved with a symbol that’s meaningful to you
- A customized wallpaper on your phone or laptop
- A souvenir from a place you traveled or an event you completed
Step 4: Start the morning with positive affirmations that align with your goals. Do this by standing in from of a mirror and reading your affirmation aloud. Here are some great affirmations to get you started:
- Today is brand new and tomorrow is too
- I have a gift worth giving
- I am my own CEO, and I am the best boss
- Momentum is messy
- I am a winner!
- I am strong, successful, and capable!
- I welcome success into my life!
- Winning is contagious, when I help others win I win too.
6. Drink water
Drinking water is one of the most important things you can add to your morning routine.
Even mild dehydration causes fatigue, irritation, and reduced cognitive function—all of which make it much more difficult to win at life. Sufficient water intake also works to flush out toxins and boost metabolism, making you healthier and less likely to get sick.
Accordion to MayoClinic men should drink about 15.5 cups per day or 3.7L.
The best time to drink water is right when you wake up in the morning: if you've gone all night without hydrating yourself (which many experts suggest is actually beneficial for your health), then replenishing fluids first thing after getting out of bed will help make up for this period of natural dehydration overnight.
7. Get sunlight as soon as you can
Morning sunlight exposure has been increasing in popularity. Men around the world are building this into their morning routines.
Many experts, including Dr. Andrew Huberman, have been revealing the benefits of deliberate exposure to the sun first thing in the morning.
8. Review your intentions for the day
Once you have a plan, you'll need to keep your focus on it.
You can do this by reviewing your intentions for the day each morning. Be sure to prioritize and execute accordingly.
In Extreme Ownership, Jocko Willink talks about the prioritize and execute method which helps you ruthlessly cull any nonsense from your list.
9. Work out.
Your morning workout routine doesn't have to be painful, but by getting the blood pumping early, you'll be able to accomplish all of your other tasks more easily.
Exercise produces endorphins—chemicals in your brain that act as natural painkillers. Se even if you’re feeling down a bit of exercising in the morning will significantly improve your mood. Not only this, exercising early in the morning will result in much better sleep.
These two benefits alone will make you a more alert and energetic person throughout the day, so it's no surprise that many success stories start with a simple fitness routine.
If you're not sure where to start, here are some low-impact exercises that won't cause too much stress on your body:
- Light jogging or walking
- Gym sessions under 30 minutes
- Swimming laps
- Jumping rope
It’s becoming common knowledge that mediation is beneficial.
However, starting a meditation habit is rather difficult.
Instead of skipping this step because you don’t know where to start you can simply download the headspace app and follow the prompts.
A published study conducted at Google and Roche, in which employees used Headspace for 8 weeks, had similar results: participants reported a 46% reduction in depression and a 31% reduction in anxiety.Headspace Mediation App
If there’s one thing you do every single morning make it meditation.
Journaling is powerful.
The benefits of journaling are far too great for men to ignore.
One study conducted by Cambridge University explored the long-term physical and emotional benefits of expressive writing. They included:
- Less stress-related visits to the doctors
- Reduced blood pressure
- Improved immune system
- Improved mood
- Reduced depressive symptoms
- Improved working memory
- Improved sporting performance
You can get started right away with the popular Five Minute Journal – I’ve created a google drive version that you can simply copy and apply.
Duplicate this free template-> Men’s Daily Journal Template
Best Morning Routines For Men Recap
It’s clear that morning routines for men are critical. Here’s the recap:
- Build a routine around your goals
- Start by preparing the night before.
- Get up early.
- Make your bed and clean your space.
- Audit your soundtracks (and build positive affirmations)
- Drink water
- Get sunlight as soon as you wakeup
- Review your intentions for the day
- Work out
Not every single item on this list needs to be completed each and every day.
Exercise some common sense and choose the things that resonate with you most.
It’s all about men building a routine that helps them create positive habits and reach their goals sooner.