-Will Durant

“We are what we do repeatedly. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

When are you going to start meditating? When should you exercise? When should you say those affirmations you wrote down but barely remember? How are you going to manage to drink 64 oz. of water minimum per day?

You are going to start doing these things tomorrow, and you are going to do them all before 8 a.m.

You are going to do them in the morning because you know that when you wake up, you set your momentum for the day. You are going to start tomorrow because you know that setting a time and date makes you more likely to achieve your goals.

Running on Autopilot

You currently have a morning routine, whether you know it or not. If you have not been intentional about yours, mornings may look like this:

  • Wake up
  • Check phone
  • Get out of bed, and leave messy room
  • Drink a cup coffee or tea
  • Play on phone more
  • Rush out the door when you notice the time

How does this make you feel each morning? Probably exhausted, stressed-out, and pressed for time. This initial feeling may even stay with you throughout the day. You might stumble from one task to the next, barely aware of what you’re doing.

The question isn’t whether you are going to run on autopilot. You are. Routines relieve you of the mental burden of having to decide what to do. Our brains save us a lot of time and energy by realizing that we are in the same circumstances we have been before. “When X, then Y…” the brain says. This is helpful, as the quality of our decision-making goes down as we make more choices.

But this does mean that we can end up self-destructing without ever consciously considering what we’re doing. We just do the thing we’ve done before.

When we recognize this quirk of the brain, we can leverage it in our favor to produce positive, automatic behaviors that set us up to live our best life without having to choose constantly.

Every successful person has a morning routine. Richard Branson, Tim Ferriss, and Oprah Winfrey all set themselves up for success each day by doing the same actions, in the same order, each day.

A Better Way

Imagine your morning this way instead:

  • Wake up
  • Make your bed
  • Drink water
  • Exercise
  • Meditate
  • Journal
  • Walk out the door on time

How do you think that would make you feel? What do you think that would mean for the rest of your day? For your evening? For your confidence? For your life?

The answer is: Better.

Much better.

We know the things that make us feel better. We just don’t always understand how to start doing them. Making them a habit is the answer. Eventually, you won’t have to use your willpower. You’ll just do all the things that are good for you.

How long does it take to reach that state of positive, automatic momentum?

While the exact number varies by person, the average is just 66 days. A little over 2 months.

Once you reach your threshold, everything will become easier. You’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of exercise, gratitude, and meditation without having to poke and prod at yourself, using shame and coercion to try to force yourself to do the right thing. You’ll have efficient, productive days without the constant need for willpower and motivation.

Routines to Consider

Once you’re sold on the benefits of having a routine, the question becomes: What habits should I build?

Here are a few options

Make Your Bed

People who make their beds in the morning report better sleep and better moods. You also start the day off right by giving yourself just a small success that you can come back to in the evening.


Meditation reduces stress, controls anxiety, lengthens your life span, and increases self-awareness. If possible, try to start each day with 5 minutes of meditation.  See if you can build this to 20 minutes. Download a meditation app to help guide you when you are just getting started.


Getting the heart rate up in the morning increases your ability to regulate your mood and start your day off right.  Finding an exercise that works for you can help you fall asleep more easily and get a high quality of sleep at night. For example, you can do a 1-mile walk, 20 minutes of yoga, lifting weights or even a 4-minute Tabata (high intensity workout) each day can improve your health and wellness.

Affirm and Visualize

Say what you want. See what you want. Visualize yourself taking all the actions that you need to reach a specific goal and being happy while doing it. Affirm that you are worthy and capable of creating the life that you want.

Drink Water

Knock out 16 of those 64 oz. you need to drink each day by drinking a bottle of water right after you wake up.


Write down 3 things you are grateful for. Write down the three Most Important Things you need to do with your day. Write a personal development question to reflect on during your down time.  Journal tonight.  

Stack habits on top on one another to create a routine. You will learn that developing five good habits is just as easy as developing one if done in the right way. Create a routine that works for you and begin tomorrow.

These are just some of the morning options that you can choose from.  It is important to find those routines that will start your day off well, so this morning success carries through the rest of the day.


  • Mark Danaher

    Career, Life and Leadership Coach, Virtual Speaker and Trainer

    Careers by Design LLC

    Mark Danaher is a career/life/leadership coach and certified career counselor who helps leaders elevate their careers and life to one they will love.  He helps his clients make the best of tough situations so they can be their best professionally and personally.   Mark uses coaching along with his extensive career development knowledge and expertise to offer his clients a uniquely holistic approach to making career and life pivots.  He helps his clients manage burnout, stress, and anxiety, integrate balance into their lives so they can make a meaningful change in their lives. He uses a holistic narrative career approach to help people tell their stories and learn from their careers and life.  Mark completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Connecticut in Economics and History and went on to earn his Masters at the University of Connecticut in Counseling Psychology.   Mark was the President of the National Career Development Association in 2014-2015 and continues to volunteer for the organization.   He is certified as a Certified Professional Coach, Certified Career Counselor, Holistic Narrative Career Professional, Retirement Options Coach, 2 Young to Retire Coach, Job, and Career Development Coach, Job and Career Transition Coach, and a Certified Career Service Provider.  Mark is a Master Trainer for the Facilitating Career Development Certificate and School Career Development Advisor certificate is actively coaching training, and teaching throughout the year.  He is now a Master Practioner of the Energy Leadership Index which is a great assessment to understand how you use your energy in your everyday life and under stress.  It gives you a great insight into how you can improve your everyday interactions and connections with colleagues, employees, family, and beyond.