What is the first thing you do when you get out of bed in the morning?
Do you grab your phone and check your e-mail? Do you run for the coffee pot? Check the news?

So much of our effectiveness is about mindset, and how we start our day can impact our trajectory. A strong start can facilitate a confident, clear mindset, while a false start can cause us to feel behind the gun throughout the day.

Here’s a simple morning ritual that can help get you off to a good start each day:

It starts the night before. Before you go to bed each night, spend five minutes reviewing your day. Think about your successes and shortcomings over the course of the day. What did you learn? Also, decide then and there when you’ll wake up and what the first thing you’ll do the next morning will be (even if it’s the same thing you always do!) Making this choice in advance will give you added incentive to get up in the morning.

Don’t jump out of bed. Set your alarm five minutes before you really need to get up. Spend the first five minutes of your waking day – while still in bed – answering three questions: (1) what am I excited about today?, (2) what is my biggest priority, what will I do about it, and when?, and (3) how will I know today was a success? (This last question is critical! It’s impossible to hit a mark we’ve never set. This question prevents our days and weeks from feeling like one long, run-on sentence. By the way… Ben Franklin had a similar practice, and Peter Bregman shares something similar in 18 Minutes.)

Spend your first fifteen minutes filling your well. Grab a cup of coffee, then spend fifteen minutes reading something inspiring, reflecting, and easing into your day. Don’t jump straight into your inbox or calendar. If you need more time for this, set your alarm a little earlier. (I’ve gradually arrived at the place where I spend about an hour on this ritual each day. Because of three children, my alarm goes off much earlier than it used to!)

Why is this simple ritual important? Because it provides punctuation for our day. It is the inhalation before a day of frenetic exhale. While many of us spend our days in uncertainty, trying to determine the right course of action in our work, this simple ritual allows us to reach a place of clarity about our expectations, our hopes, and our tactical plans.

Have a morning ritual. It doesn’t have to be this one, but it should be something that grounds you in your humanity and in possibility.

Do you have a morning ritual? Do share.

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