During my swimming career, early mornings were as normal as breathing.  Training would begin prior to dawn to ensure workout was completed, and didn’t interfere with daily school or work commitments. Looking back, mornings are a great time of the day, and it was rare that I woke up thinking, it’s way too early!

The morning is extremely important, as it’s the foundation from which the day is built, and it’s something that has carried on with me. Waking in the early morning has many positives, it’s calming, quiet, no one is around, and you can’t help but think of what a privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to appreciate the beauty of the environment you’re in, to think, to learn – and then make the day count!

Each morning truly is a brand new opportunity.  The happiest, healthiest people I know embrace this and use it to their advantage.  They have effective morning rituals that set themselves up for a great day, enhance their well-being and give their lives purpose.  Here’s what they do differently than most:

1. Have a sense of gratitude.

They start the day with love in their hearts and minds, and are truly appreciative of their life and all of its idiosyncrasies.  Whether that be through an activity or a hobby, it’s something they truly love doing. Not only do they have a sense of gratitude, they practice it by expressing thankfulness directly to the people they care about, and to those helping them in that particular moment.

2. Begin anew.

Each morning is a new start.  This is something athletes learn to do well, and something we all can learn from. They move on quickly from any achievement or disappointment and start a new. They know it’s a brand new day to start over and do something either differently or better than the day before.  Yesterday may have been a complete fizzer, but today is new.  They embrace the opportunity to learn, grow, improve and succeed.

They don’t let yesterday’s failures or circumstances ruin the new start.

3. Use self-inquiry to affirm a purposeful start to the day.

This was always a big one, re affirming a long term goal and asking yourself at the start of the day, “what can I do to make myself better and get myself closer to it achieving it?”. Not all of us will be setting a long term goal, such as “making the Olympics’ however that shouldn’t stop you from starting your day with something positive.  For example Benjamin Franklin asked himself each morning, “What good shall I do today?”  Challenge yourself to come up with something positive which provides purpose.

4. Follow an effective morning routine.

Happy and healthy people know that morning routines are important, as they help focus and build momentum for your day. Routines don’t need to be boring, they provide you the freedom to be present and relaxed – rather than starting the day in a rush to somewhere.

Once your routine is in order, you will be able to, quite literally, smell the coffee.  You’ll have your own time to reflect on your clear thoughts for the day, and what you want to achieve. For truly easy-going mornings, reduce the number of decisions you must make, try making them night before, and have a to do list prepared.

5. Take the time to eat a wholesome breakfast.

This is simple, yet unfortunately so many people start their day without breakfast, or feed themselves with sugary drinks, or fast food. Make the time to have breakfast, and make sure it’s healthy. We all have commitments and juggle many things during our busy daily lives, but making the time to sit down, relax, organise and eat breakfast set’s up your day. You can’t have a happy, healthy day if you feed your body garbage first thing in the morning.  Period.

Does it take ten extra minutes to prepare a wholesome breakfast?  Yes, it does.  Is it worth it?  Absolutely!  Fuel your body properly first thing every morning and provide yourself with the energy you need to be productive and feel great.

6. Move on gracefully to what’s most important.

Once you’ve got the previous 5 steps in effect, this last one, comes naturally.  As you you’ve made time to follow a routine, you’ll naturally start thinking about your goals for the day. We all like like making progress and once we accomplish one of our goals, it provides us with great sense of satisfaction. Remember, success doesn’t come to you, you have to go to it.

Be smart with your time, working more hours don’t necessarily equate to getting more done. Follow plans, priorities and milestones, and celebrate your success.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Aaron Tenabel is the owner and founder of Stride Life CoachingAn ex professional swimmer and elite coach, Aaron now uses those experiences and skills to specialise coaching individuals wanting to improve their health, achieve work life balance, and find greater purpose, fulfilment and authenticity in their career. Aaron also specialises in working with professional athletes, wanting to find passions outside their chosen sport, and help develop, empower and plan for their life post career.