7 Things Successful People Do First Thing in the Morning

Wednesday Jan 8 | BY |
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The things you do first thing in the morning can set the stage for the rest of the day.

If we want to get better at something, the best way is often to observe someone who’s already performing at the level we’d like to achieve.

If we want to get better at playing the guitar, for instance, we might watch the professionals do it, or take lessons from a teacher who knows his stuff. Want to succeed in business? Attend a seminar given by the experts in the field, and follow their suggestions.

When looking at what leads to an overall successful life, however—in terms of career, health, and relationship success—research has shown that certain behaviors tend to come up over and over again—and that most people do these activities first thing in the morning.

Here they are, in no particular order.

  1. Exercise. Everyone knows it’s a healthy thing to do, and exercise at any time of day is a good thing. Those who are able to stick with it over the years, though, seem to make time in their schedule to work out first thing in the morning. Going directly from the bed to the treadmill may not seem inviting to you now, but if you start the habit, you’ll probably keep it, you’ll enjoy an energy burst that will last for several hours, and you’ll begin each day with a feeling of accomplishment.
  2. Eat breakfast. We published a post awhile back about the breakfast debate—whether or not eating breakfast every day actually helps you lose weight. But regardless of where you land on that argument, it remains true that most successful people start the day off with breakfast. Fueling the body with healthy food helps keep your metabolism burning while giving you a good source of energy for the morning. If you share breakfast with family and friends, you get the extra boost of some important social interaction. Some studies have also shown that eating healthy foods first thing in the morning can help you stick with healthy choices throughout the rest of the day.
  3. Set an intention. There’s a difference between just diving into your day and actually setting an intention to have a great, productive day. Some people call this making a plan for the day, or visualizing success in all your endeavors. However you want to think of it, starting out with a plan or an intention often helps the rest of the day proceed more efficiently. Successful people use the quiet of morning to plan out the things they need to accomplish, set priorities, and reflect on their goals.
  4. Tackle the hard stuff first. Most people are at their most alert and energetic in the morning. This is the time to tackle your hardest project. Get it done and out of the way, and the rest of the day is likely to be all downhill. If you wait to tackle this project later, it will likely loom over your thoughts while you’re doing other things, distracting you and sapping your energy. Hold off on answering your emails, checking Facebook, and updating Twitter until this first project is done and taken care of. This also helps you to tackle your hardest stuff when you’re at your peak, which means you’re more likely to do well on that difficult task.
  5. Connect. Whether it’s kissing your spouse goodbye, having breakfast with a friend, or meeting up with positive people, your early morning interactions set the tone for the day. According to a 2003 study, a brief hug and holding hands with a romantic partner reduced the harmful physical effects of stress. Karen Grewen, psychologist at the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, states that loving contact before a tough day at work can carry over to protect your health throughout the day.
  6. Get up earlier. According to Shawn Achor, the author of Happiness Advantage, “Once your brain records a victory, it’s more likely to take the next step and the next step.” This is why many successful people get up an hour or two early to accomplish things that are important to them, such as focusing on a new business they’re starting, meditating, listening to motivational tapes, walking the dog or performing another form of exercise, or just enjoying some quiet time. Find out where you’d like to experience a victory, and plan to work on that first thing.
  7. Focus on today. Leave behind whatever regrets you have from yesterday. Holding onto them will only erode your confidence and disrupt your focus. If there is something you can do to make yourself feel better—apologize, correct a mistake, right a wrong—then plan out how you will do that, then take action. If you find yourself ruminating or feeling guilty, try to either set it aside or write out a plan to make it better. Do whatever you can to let go of the past and charge full strength into the future that is today.

Do you have tips for early morning activities that promote success? Please share.

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Marilyn Elias, “Study: Hugs warm the heart, and may protect it,” USA Today, March 10, 2003, http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/2003-03-09-hug-usat_x.htm.

Laura Vanderkam, “What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast,” Success.com, http://www.success.com/article/what-the-most-successful-people-do-before-breakfast.

Colleen M. Story

Colleen M. Story

Colleen M. Story, a northwest-based writer, editor, and ghostwriter, has been creating non-fiction materials for individuals, corporations, and commercial magazines for over 17 years. She specializes in the health and wellness field, where she writes and ghostwrites books, e-books, blogs, magazine articles, and more.

Colleen is the founder of Writing and Wellness. Her fantasy novel, “Rise of the Sidenah,” was released with Jupiter Gardens Press in September 2015. Her literary novel, “Loreena’s Gift,” is forthcoming in spring 2016 from Dzanc Books. She lives in Idaho. www.colleenmstory.com


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  1. Satori says:

    I heard this before, but It’s not easy to run in the morning. I perform so poorly. Then again, running after work is far from ideal because I often have to run errands or am too tired after work. So I want to make this morning exercise thing work, but I just don’t know how. Yoga in the morning isn’t that bad, but I want to jog…

  2. Satori says:

    By the way, is comments off on Frederic’s articles? Or is it just me having a trouble?

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