Do you want to start your day off feeling centered and balanced and ready to take on the world?

I have two words for you: morning routine. Actually, let’s make it four: consciously created morning routine.

Everyone has a morning routine — perhaps it’s rolling out of bed and making coffee, waking up and turning on NPR, hopping in the shower, or even hitting snoozes for 45+ minutes and then scrambling to get out the door. That last one definitely used to be me… sometimes it still is. ?

On my dream days, I have an extensive morning routine that I absolutely love — I wake up, I do some tapping (EFT), I journal, I meditate, make a gratitude list, and plan for the day. My “ideal” morning routine has been honed over the past six years — it has evolved, ebbed and flowed — but it’s my rock. My morning routine sets me up for success. It helps me to feel centered, and balanced, and to start my day with ease and grace.

At least it does when I’m practicing it.

In November, I started a new job. And, not just any new job — my FIRST “real traditional” adult job. That’s right. For the past, then, 28-years I had been in school or worked for myself. I could stay up late, sleep-in late, do my own thing. New job meant I had to be in the office by 8am, and, as a night owl with an affinity for the snooze button, I had my work cut out for me.

Overnight my morning routine changed from one I had consciously created to one based on instincts — my version of survival mode: Grab some food. Wash face. Dress for work. Run to the car. Drive to work. Run to my office.

Day after day, my mornings were rushed. They weren’t consciously created — they were frantic,; chaotic; bearable, but certainly not pleasant. They were completely reactionary. Whether I had 45-minutes or just 15, my morning was equally rushed. I was not setting my schedule, my schedule was “setting” me.

I like to think of it like this: how you start your day is predictive of how your day will go. How you feel when you start work (or school!) is going to shape your interactions, your productivity, and your mental state for the whole day.

If you start with snoozing and rushing and beating yourself up over snoozing and rushing, then, my friend, your day is probably going to be fuzzy, overwhelming, filled with self-criticism and doubt, and quite frankly not has smooth or positive as you — or I — would like it to be.

Believe me — I’ve been there. Done that. And, will likely do it again. BUT, I don’t live there. The days of snooze and rush are just places I visit, times to remind me of WHY I practice my conscious creation of a morning routine.

So, how can you start to be a conscious creator of your morning routine? Or, how can you get back a morning routine that you’ve lost for one reason or another? Over the past two months, as I essentially threw my ideal morning routine to the wind and commenced rushing about, I learned a few important lessons that shifted how I approach my morning routine and ensured that no matter how much (or little!) time I had in the morning, I could get centered and into my flow:

1. Start small and take baby steps.

It’s simple. You think of how you want to feel and start the day, and then you pick ONE SMALL thing that is aligned with those feelings and commit to doing it EVERY DAY.

To get started, I want you to think about making one tiny tweak to your typical morning routine. That tweak is to take at least 5 minutes to consciously do something that makes you feel good. You can add something new to your morning routine like journaling, meditating, or drinking hot lemon water, OR you might already do something each morning that makes you feel good — in which case, great! Next time you’re doing whatever it is in the morning that you love to do, give yourself 5 minutes to really feel it and appreciate the simple act of self-love you’re starting your day with. Honestly, I like to set a timer on my phone for five (or ten or fifteen) minutes to “protect” the time — that way, I don’t have to worry about time slipping away from me and running late.

As time goes on, you may want to expand your morning routine — some mornings, my routine is a blissful 60 minutes. But, it is always good to have your 5 minute back-up for those curves life throws at you. So, start with 5 minutes. Get present. Breathe in. Breathe out. And, appreciate the joy and happiness you can get from consciously shifting your mindset about something little you do for yourself every day.

2. It is not what you do, it’s how you do it.

Let’s say you drink coffee every morning. Maybe you love it. Maybe you need it. Doesn’t matter — it’s something that’s part of your morning routine and it’s something that YOU are doing for YOU. Tomorrow morning, instead of grabbing your coffee and rushing out the door or gulping it down as you carry it around multi-tasking… Sit & sip. And, when you’re sipping on your coffee, take a moment to be conscious of how that choice to drink coffee is an act of self-love. For real! You take care of yourself hundreds of little ways each day (at least!), and each of those things is an act of self-love.

And, when you start recognizing those choices as acts of self-love, you are going to start feeling happier and much better taken care of! It’s all about pausing and then reframing and being conscious of your choices — it’s not about drinking the coffee; it’s about taking a breath and thinking “Mmm I’m really enjoying this coffee. I am worthy and deserving of this coffee, and I can have these 5 minutes to just drink up and feel good.”

Might sound silly to you at first, but it works for literally anything. Showering? Yep — don’t rush through the shower. Feel the water, close your eyes, take a few deep breathes, feel grateful for the water and give yourself credit for taking care of yourself physically — you are going to hop out of that shower all fresh and clean. Isn’t that fabulous? What about eating breakfast? Absolutely. Doesn’t matter what you’re eating or who is there with you — all that matters is that you take 5+ minutes, and you sit and you chew and let a feeling of gratitude for the fuel you’re putting in your body wash over you.

Catching on? All you gotta do — and I’m not saying it’s easy, it will take practice! — is slow down. The key is to be more present and frame your actions as CHOICES you are making to take care of YOU.

3. Practice self-compassion.

In the past two weeks, I have only had my “ideal” morning routine pan out twice BUT I have been a conscious creator of my morning routine every day. The key here is that despite “failing” for days… weeks… months… at getting back to my “ideal” morning routine, I didn’t beat myself up. I kept trying. When I recognized the pattern of rush and self-criticism and “ugh” mornings… I stopped, and re-evaluated. Every morning I found the one, tiny thing I could get present and do. The ONE tiny thing that would make me feel good — strong, balanced, centered — in the morning. Sometimes it was doing a quick tapping session. Sometimes it was listening to a grounding meditation on the way to work.

I was flexible. I was kind when I hit snooze for an hour and then only had 20 minutes to get my stuff together. I was patient as I struggled to find 5 minutes for myself in the morning. Most of all, I was COMMITTED.

Don’t give up if you “mess up”. Be compassionate with yourself. It doesn’t have to be the perfect routine to set yourself up for success. Do I feel a million times more blissed out if I get a glorious hour to myself in the morning? ABSOLUTELY. But, do I feel pretty kick ass when I listen to a meditation on my way to work? Damn straight I do — because I did something for ME that feels GOOD to start my day.

I truly believe that you get what you focus on and you create your reality. So, take 5 minutes and take back your morning. Start your day off committing to yourself and to feeling good. It has the power to change your life.

Originally published at


  • Kirsten Lee Hill, Ph.D.

    Researcher, Creative, Entrepreneur

    Kirsten Lee Hill, Ph.D. is an expert in creatively leveraging traditional research expertise to support community-driven change, and has worked with global leaders in innovation such as Virgin Unite and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Kirsten partners with people and organizations with inspiring ideas for how to change the world so they can leverage the powers of research and personal wellbeing to advance their cause. She also inspires changemakers to embrace gracefully breaking rules through her podcast, Graceful Rulebreakers.