paul le

Building a Morning Routine

Over the past few months, I developed the following morning routine:

  1. Wake up early around 7:00 am

  2. Stretch

  3. Journal

  4. Meditate

  5. Go to the gym

Here is how I did it:

  1. I started with a small habit that required no effort. This was the habit of getting outdoor sunlight in my eyes within 30 minutes after waking up. I had no expectations with this habit - even if I just opened my balcony door and looked outside, I counted it.

  2. Over the course of a few weeks, I associated this habit with a good feeling, knowing that it was good for my health. Getting outdoor sunlight in your eyes early in the morning is how your body regulates its circadian rhythm, and is important for keeping a regular sleeping pattern. It also regulates the release of cortisol in your body in the morning, which is a natural stimulant. I started to feel this as soon as I stepped outside, and it was satisfying.

  3. I eventually developed a craving for this habit. As soon as I woke up, I would instantly want to go outside to get that mental boost from the morning sunlight. This is one of the most important aspects of creating a new habit, and is the difference between a habit and a repeated behaviour.

  4. Over the course of a few months, I worked up to being outside for at least 10 minutes. It became an established habit, where I would feel irritated if I missed it. I was also naturally waking up a lot earlier than I usually would (around 7:00 am, without an alarm clock) since my circadian rhythm naturally became regulated and gradually shifted earlier thanks to this habit.

  5. Once this habit was established, I started stacking habits on top. Since I was outside anyways, I found that it was a good opportunity to also drink a glass of water, stretch, journal, and meditate. I added habits one at a time, and made sure I had a glass of water and my journal on my desk ready every morning to make it easy to remember.

  6. Now that I had an entire morning routine established, there was less friction for me to then go to the gym after I completed my morning ritual. I already had an established habit of going to the gym in the evening, but wanted to go in the morning to free up my evenings. After each gym session, I would think about how satisfying it felt to get my gym session out of the way so early in the day. This lead me to crave going in the morning to have a free evening.

June 9th, 2022