Episode 43: How to Start a Successful Day by Building a Morning Ritual

Good morning! Hey, this is Jimmy Williams with Live a Life by Design. Today is another wonderful Monday as we start off our new year of 2020. You know, this year, to me, so far has been filled with some wonderful experiences. And we’re just getting started. I hope you’re enjoying some of the episodes we’ve brought to you through the holiday season and I am looking forward to the next several episodes as we bring you some wonderful ways that you can improve your life, by just taking some small, simple yet powerful changes in the way you conduct your time and energy.

You heard me, it’s not just time management. To me there is no way to manage time. I can look at the clock and an hour later the clock is going to say it’s been one hour that’s lapsed. To me, you cannot manage time. What we do is we manage our energy so that we maximize the amount of productivity within the time we have.

You know it’s important to think about last week’s episode for just a few moments. We talked about mentors. And we received several very nice emails and other comments regarding New Year’s resolutions. Many of the people were talking about taking bold measures, to live a life beyond their experience. To create the reality from their dreams. To provide some of the greatest opportunities for lasting change, you must become comfortable with being uncomfortable.

When was the last time you actually forged a significant change in your life that enabled you to reach greater levels of personal growth. What was the catalyst for the change? To seek and adopt significant positive change in your life, you must take the decision making process out of the formula as soon as it is practicable. What I’m talking about is the ultimate utilization of rituals to give your day the greatest opportunity for success.

The human brain is a powerful tool. However, just like any other muscle of the body, the brain can be subject to fatigue as well. In my workouts, which I do five days a week, I generally will push myself to the point where I have such fatigue in that particular body part, I just can’t go on. To me, that’s the way the muscle breaks down for new growth, and then the day of rest allows it to rejuvenate and to build and be a bigger muscle than next time I work out.

Decision fatigue works the same. And it refers to that deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision making. All day long we make decisions, from the moment you arise, a.) that’s a decision. To the point of picking out your clothing to wear for the day, another decision. What you’re going to have for breakfast, another decision. As you can see, one of these primary causes of irrational trade offs in life is decision making, and decision fatigue.

To minimize fatigue, or more positively as I like to use, to enhance brain efficiency, routines can be established for those activities that must be accomplished periodically. If you’re gonna repeat the activity, as I say in our office, build a system, assign it to someone with better capabilities to manage it and get out of the way. In other words, systematize those things so you do not have to make the same decisions over and over.

To allow the most efficient use of your decision capabilities, many people establish what we think are unique or different life hacks to reduce the fatigue and decision making. Now, a couple of these gentlemen I’m going to visit with you about today have taken these decisions to the utmost level in my opinion. They have really systematized these areas of their life realizing that this is where they could gain some traction on some of their bigger goals and save their brain power for a time of decision making when they need most of their capability.

So why do you think Mark Zuckerburg wears the same clothes everyday at work? Now I know what you’re thinking, most of us go, oh my goodness, I’d get so tired of wearing a black t-shirt and a pair of jeans. Or a black hoodie and a pair of jeans. Matter of fact, Jimmy I can’t believe you even said hoodie and going to work. So, not allowed at our office, I can assure you. But my point is when you’re the CEO and you’re a billionaire with a B at the age of 24, I guess you can set the dress code for your company as you wish.

But Mark Zuckerburg gave some reasons that I think are very viable for what we’re talking about today on decision fatigue. Mark simply said, when asked this question, why do you wear the same clothes everyday at work? His reason was that he’s very busy, and it makes for one less thing to think about in the morning. What he’s really saying is, is I do not wish to exert energy and use some of my brain creativity and power on such a menial task as picking out my clothing.

So he utilizes the same clothing every day. Now some of us with little more colorful personality may decide that, well, that’s just a little too bland for me. But look at what he does as CEO of Facebook. Whether you like the company or not is not my point, the point I’m making is is look at his systems that he has built. His rituals that help him maintain the most creativity within his brain for those tasks that require it. So he doesn’t waste any time picking out his clothing.

Another individual that learned a method of reducing his decision fatigue was President Obama. He told Vanity Fair in a February 2014 article, you’ll see I wear only grey or blue suits. I’m trying to pair down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing because I have too many other decisions that are much more important to make. Inc. Magazine reported an article by Craig Bloem on February 20, 2018, that the average person makes 35,000 decisions every day! Wow! Can you believe that? 35,000 decisions every day. The situation for me would be after about the first 10,000, I’m probably a little tired.

And I will suggest this, to those of us that are leaders of companies and teams. The decision making process could be the difference between success and failure for your company or your team. That is why it’s so important, in my opinion, to teach your team members about decision making and how to systematize at their level of the process. You know, you have to be careful when you’re setting up a team that you want to empower them, by giving them the awesome capabilities in teaching them what they need to do to be critical decision makers at their level. So that you can focus on the bigger picture of the company.

You can not sit there and micromanage what color the stationary will be, or what color print you want on your business cards when you have got to look at the strategy for the marketplace, the product you’re bringing out, the timing of it, the funding of it. You see, this is where you as a leader must shine the most. Now I understand some of you listening may not have a team that you lead. You may be a member of the team. Well, I’ve got some good news for you as well. Your leader will recognize your additional output, your additional contributions to the point of making decision on your own that that person will certainly appear to say, I didn’t realize you could do that. If you will just stretch out of your comfort zone and show that person you report to, that you have that capability.

You know, the issue of 35,000 decisions everyday is taxing on us as people. To say that you have to make that decision every day. To determine what color socks you’re going to place on your feet is just another means of taking energy away from more important matters. So what to eat for breakfast, for example, what shirt to wear, what door to go through in the office building. To help reduce the number of decisions I make in a day, I have created routines that allow me to reserve my brain energy for far more impactful and significant decisions in life. Today I’m going to share my morning ritual, that empowers me to start each day with a smile and feeling accomplished before ever leaving my home.

The process of creating a ritual requires that you cognitively consider each step of your routine, and the time it takes to complete it. It’s that simple, yet that complex. I literally took a pin and paper and wrote every action I took from the time I open my eyes, until I was leaving my home. After writing down each step, I looked for areas of inefficiency that could be improved. Now, I am using 71 minutes of time in the morning to establish the criteria that create confidence and inspire me to reach my lofty goals. The 71 minutes is broken down into 8 activities. Just 8. Some of you may require more. Many of you have a morning ritual, but it is not written down, and therefore I believe it is difficult to remove inefficiencies.

We can’t manage what we don’t measure. Right? You have to know where your time is going. And I don’t know about you, but I only have 24 hours or 1,440 minutes in a day. I do not want to waste one of those minutes on something that’s menial, when I may need that minute for something that is earth shattering. I’m a big fan of writing down the activities to see if there are areas that need adjusting. So my morning ritual is posted on our Live a Life by Design Facebook page for your review. The routine I developed works great for me. And I want to accent that, for me. Your situation most certainly will be different. You may be in a different phase of life that requires more or less time in the morning.

I have a friend with small children, and her morning routine requires one hour and 45 minutes. Wow! So double the time that I spend getting ready, she needs to start her day feeling that she’s got it all under control. Whatever time is necessary to set up your day for the best possible outcomes, that is the time that should be spent on this process. Life is not simply existing and going the way the wind blows. As I said, we’re all given 24 hours per day. Well, why do certain individuals achieve great progress in this 24 hour period and you don’t? Do you feel that you are on the proverbial “hamster wheel”? Perhaps you could stop running long enough to analyze the activities in your typical day. By taking charge of the activities you are creating endorphins in your brain. That inspire and motivate you to continue seeking control of your life. My main mentor in life, Jim Rohn, such a great philosopher of life and business. He stated it so eloquently when he said, “It is not the way the wind blows but the setting of the sail that determines your destiny”.

You see it’s quite a bit of your control that tells your mind where you’re going to spend your energy and why is it important. In an earlier podcast episode, I mentioned and talked in depth about goals and goal setting. This walks hand in hand with goal setting. If you’re going to set a goal, it must be important to you and it must be impactful with relevance that you’ll want to accomplish it. That takes time. That takes decision power. That takes critiquing of your own actions to see whether or not you have attained the goal or whether now, there’s additional work to do.

My morning ritual contains the following activities. A) I drink 8 ounces of water at room temperature. Now I hear what you’re saying already, wait a minute, why room temperature. What does that have to do with anything? I just simply don’t like something cold on my throat first thing in the morning. Some of you may be hot coffee drinkers, or hot tea drinkers, and that helps your throat get started for the day, particularly if you’re going to be speaking a lot during the day. Before a speaking event, I again, only drink room temperature water. And the reason being is, is I don’t really want hot water on my throat or my vocal chords, I just want to have that nice room temperature water. So I drink 8 ounces. Why 8 ounces, that gives me one of my glasses for the day. And I drink 12 a day. You heard me, I drink 12 glasses of water a day. I don’t drink all of those things that fill you up with nothing but sugar and carbs and calories, when good ol clear, clean, refreshing water is available.

The next step in my ritual, shave and shower. The 3rd, I dress for the day. Now the secret I’m gonna tell you, when we talk about my evening ritual for the next episode, is that I have all of my clothing laid out, that night before I lie down that I will wear tomorrow. Makes it, again, a systematized process. I dress for the day, as I said, then I eat breakfast and take my supplements. Now I take supplements, there is some argument as whether or not those are good for the body, if the ethically of the drug that you’re, or this case the supplement or herb your taking is going to be doing you any good, I don’t know. But let me say this, if it makes me feel better about me, and I feel as though it is improving in my life, then that’s ok for me. You weigh that for your own decision, but do have some kind of breakfast or look at your diet and make sure you’re getting the proper nutrients you need to fuel the machine. To really send that message that I’m ready to take on the day. Seize that day. Right?

The next thing I do is I read my Bible. Now there’s nothing better for me, then to read my Bible in the morning. Now this was on my evening routine previously. So I’ve analyzed my routines over the last three or four years, just to make sure I’ve created the most efficient. What I’ve found was, is that when I left it as an evening routine, I didn’t read the quantity of verses or chapters I wanted because I was tired at that time of day. So at a time I wanted really to absorb and make an impact on my spiritual life, I was not capable of giving it my full attention because of the wearing of the day, if you will, on my body. I was just simply too tired to continue, so embarrassingly I found myself falling asleep with it on my chest. So, if I could absorb it that way I guess it would work.

The next thing I do is pray and journal to release my thoughts from my slumber. In other words I want everything out of my mind except for what I’m going to give you next in my list of ritual activities. I want to pray and journal and I get those things off of my mind to allow me to have the most clear focus so I can see as clear as day with no clouds in sight of my mind. Nothing else is in any way interfering with my thoughts for what is going to be my next activity.

The final activity that I want to take in, the next two is read something positive to inspire my mind. By clearing my mind by journaling, and reading something now positive, it gives me that motivation. That jolt of inspiration that I need to really go out and focus my eyes on the target of the day. What role will I play today to help make my big goals? What are our team goals at our office? I’m hoping if you have a team, you have team goals. Right?

So, everyone contributes from their capabilities. What can I bring to the table as my share of those team goals for success today for our company. And lastly, the big one. I review my big 3, and you remember what that’s about. My 3 most important tasks or projects I must complete today. And I review the big three for the week and the day and I do this every morning. Without shadows, change, rain, it doesn’t matter, I’m gonna go through these 8 steps. And by the time I sit in my car to drive to work, I feel like a million bucks everyday. My mind is clear. My goals are in focus, and my energies are bringing to reality the goals and projects that move the needle on our company and on my life.

You see, some people get in the car in such a hurried pace, that they are not able to even focus clearly on what they’re doing in their driving. That talks about a dangerous situation in the city, right? But I want you to take the time necessary to really write down what are going to be your activities and focus on getting those efficiently laid out so that you feel empowered in the mornings.

So your challenge for this week is to write down each step you take to start your day. It’s that simple. Analyze your list and refine it to give you the most efficient procedures and best use of your time. Before going into battle, the warrior must check each of his weapons to be sure that they are in working order and that they are in their best state to protect his family, his country and his honor. Why would you leave your home without doing the same as you do battle in a different form all day long in our world.

Reduce your decision fatigue and make better choices all day. Not just the morning. You’ll hear people say, well, that’s just my bio rhythms, I’m good til 11am and I’m done for the day. When your company and if you’re self employed, your time and talent has been wasted for the biggest part of the day if you’re not contributing 100%. You know, as an aid to assist you to developing your morning ritual, go to our Facebook page, Live a Life by Design on Facebook, and download my personal morning ritual as a guide to help you develop your own. And if you haven’t subscribed to our podcast, please do so today on iTunes, Spotify, or Google Podcast. Leave a rating and review and we’d be most appreciative.

I want you to know that you have within your capabilities now, your talents now. You don’t need to read a book, you don’t need to change anything. Other than your concept of time and behavior. Too often we get up and the first thing we do is we read that old negative news on the phone. Don’t do this. What you’re planting is the seed of negativity that early in the morning that will continue to grow, take away your energy, and resource, and then sprout into a bigger issue later in the day that you have no control of resolving. You and I are not going to bring peace to the world and have it understood by all countries that we are in control of peace if we all worked together. I would love for that to happen. You would too. It would be one of my ideal dreams of life to see peace on our planet for just a 24 hour period.

But we can’t make that happen just you and I. So at the end of the day, focus on the pure, the positive, and the powerful for you to get a good start to your day. Set up those rituals, go to our Facebook page. Do something simple and positive and look to read some positive blog I placed on there. These are things that I feed my mind. I do not turn on the boob tube, I don’t even listen to the radio news anymore. I just listen to positive messages all the way to work in my car and all the way home. I listen to other podcasts that have great messaging for it. You can do the same. So next week, I’m going to share with you our evening ritual as well as some hacks to systematize certain actions of your day. Until then, Live a Life by Design.

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