In the entrepreneurship space, the emphasis is on tactics, strategies, and taking massive action. We see headline after headline and article after article describing the need and the methods to do just that.
I agree, consistent action every day is a must.
What I don’t agree on is marginalizing every other part of your life in pursuit of a big pay day. It’s stupid. You’re not. I’m not advocating balance either, that’s a myth when you’re building an empire.
What I do advocate is an inviolate morning ritual.
My life is anything but regimented. At any given moment you may find me on white sand beaches of Cape Town, backpacking through The Congo, or roaming the sprawling metropolis of Lagos.
My location, responsibilities, and perspective change — my morning routine doesn’t.
It’s been a crucial part of a content strategy that’s allowed me to put my message in front of more than 3.5 million readers, get thousands of email subscribers, and achieve a “fuck your corporation” income.
This post is about the little things. The actions upon which execution and success are built.
1. 750 Words Every Morning
I’ve built my income on the back of my ability to write a decent sentence. I’m not Leo Toltsy or Stephen King, but you’ve read this far. I’m doing something right — no?
The 750 words I write every morning have nothing to do with money or business. They have everything to do with gaining clarity, solving problems, and discovering the depths of my psyche.
I started the practice a few years ago after I read Accidental Genius by Mark Levy. The premise is simple, write without a goal until you’ve got nothing else to say. I limit myself to 750 words these days, but at first I would write like a maniac. It was therapeutic.
As expansive and impressive as the mind is, it’s also lazy. Left to its own devices, it recycles old thoughts, takes rutted paths, and steers clear of unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory. You could say that one of it’s primary jobs is to shut off, even when there’s important thinking to be done.
Freewriting prevents that from happening. It pushes the brain to think longer, deeper and more unconventionally than it normally would.
– Mark Levy
When I wake up, one of the first things I do is fire up my computer, navigate to 750words.com, and write.
My favorite part of the app is its analyzing function. It’ll tell you what your writing is focused on. That could be money, life choices, your dinner, ambition, your family, or whatever.
The process gives you perspective and since you’ve gotten it out of your head, you can use the rest of the day to focus on things that matter. Don’t worry if you use the correct grammar, complete sentences, or real words.
The process is for you. Free your mind.
2. Twenty Minutes Planning the Day
“In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
– Dwight D. Eisenhower
When I was a kid, we earned a weekly allowance by doing chores around the house. You know, yard work, laundry, dishes, etc. We were paid every Friday. By Sunday I’d be begging my older sister for money to put in the offering basket.
She was the responsible one. She saved her money and bought cool things. I spent everything I earned in a few days. There were no consequences because I’d still eat three square meals and get new clothes at the end of the season.
That changed a few years ago. Money was rolling in fast and rolling out faster. I knew that if I wanted to put a nine to five behind me then I’d have to plan much more than my expenditure.
The digital world isn’t like The Four Hour Work Week anymore.
Don’t get me wrong, I won’t tell you to create a ten year plan. There’s no point. The world is moving too fast. All I want you to do is plan your day. If you’re feeling balsy then plan your entire week.
There’s a simple framework you can adopt.
1. Three major tasks which will complete your life’s purpose for the day.
2. Five important subtasks it’ll be nice to get done.
3. Seven minor tasks which matter but won’t affect your mission in life.
That’s it. On your best day, you’ll get fifteen important things done. That’s more than your peers can boast of doing in a week. I mentioned twenty minutes but it doesn’t take that long if you have well-defined goals.
3. 20 to 30 Minutes of Exercise
“True enjoyment comes from activity of the mind and exercise of the body; the two are ever united.”
– Wilhelm von Humboldt
I’m not an exercise buff by any stretch of the imagination. Half the time, I dread putting on my running shoes or whipping out my gym shorts. I’m an advocate of the results.
1. More energy
2. Clarity of thought
3. Increased creativity (This one is personal, some people claim to have reduced creativity from exercise)
4. Longer life expectancy (I mean, who can argue that one?)
Do simple exercise or cardio. Ten sets of a fast paced workout will do wonders for you. Twenty to thirty minutes of cardiovascular exercise prompts your body to release endorphins, serotonin, and norepinephrine. Those are the feel good hormones.
Higher levels have been scientifically proven to reduce stress, improve your quality of life, and make you an all-around badass. I’m not a fitness blogger, expert, or coach. Just someone who’s experienced the positive effects of exercise first hand.
Take care of your body. You’ll thank me later.
4. Positive Affirmations
’All is well. Everything is working out for my highest good. Out of this situation only good will come. I am safe’ Itwill work miracles in our life.”
– Louise L. Hay
Remember when the law of attraction was popular? They made a movie or documentary about it. Yea, that’s not what I’m talking about. If you think you can sit in your room, repeat a few phrases, and crush your goals then I’m happy to burst your bubble. It ain’t happening.
What positive affirmations do is ground you. They calm you and give you the confidence to go hard on your goals.
When I was in my high school weight training class, we always pushed ourselves further than the last time. Our coaches told us to be our biggest cheerleaders. If a weight was too heavy then I’d mumble to myself “I got this” “This ain’t nothing.”
Pick a few positive affirmations like:
– My written goals are helping me achieve my lifes purpose
– I recognize the barriers to achieving my goals and I move around them, over them, and through them.
– Everything is working out for me now.
– I achieve everything I set out to do.
These are courtesy of self-help-and-self-development.com. Affirmations are just a part of the puzzle but that’s where most people stop. The other half is holding the image in your mind’s eye. Images so vividyou can see them, feel them, smell them, and touch them.
Those are the kind of affirmations that get results. If you like, blow this off, but they’ve changed my life for the better.
If you can’t see it, think it, and believe it then you can’t achieve it.
5. Read — Alot
“Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light.”
– Vera Nazarian
I’m in the business of writing for a living. I’m not a freelancer. Writing pays the bills nonetheless. For a long time, I’d have periodic bouts of writers block. I thought it was natural until I read an article (sorry, I can’t find it) detailing how the creative mind works.
Those of us, who create — writers, artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, etc. — draw on our experiences and understanding. When we’re full, we rearrange the pieces in a way the world has never seen and release it into the wild.
Sometimes it’s accepted and sometimes it’s not. It comes with the territory. When we don’t give our minds enough food — enough experience — that’s when we enter creative droughts. Our minds don’t have the tools they need to work.
Modern society is full of routine. Unless you’re gifted with the ability to see the extraordinary within the ordinary, you’ll be grasping for ideas. You’ll experience creative block. Reading widely is a shortcut to experiencing widely.
Did you know our brains react to a good story in almost the same way it reacts to real life events? There’s a simple technique I use to read a wide range of books in a short amount of time.
1. 30 minutes of a fiction or high fantasy novel.
2. 30 minutes of a business book.
3. 30 minutes of a self-improvement book.
As you can see, I read a lot. I enjoy it and the millions of people who’ve read my writing seem to benefit indirectly too.
6. Do The Work
“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, loveof what you are doing or learning to do.”
Your dreams don’t work unless you do.
Cliché right? Whatever. It’s true.
The last and most important step in my morning ritual. I sit down and do the damn work. No amount of positive affirmations, exercise, reading, planning, or freewriting is a substitute for pure unadultered hard work.
The Dali Lama meditates a lot. He still travels around the world to meet world leaders and impact his followers.
The Pope constantly prays and reads mass. He also travels around the world, gives alms, and meets with world leaders.
Successful musicians party hard, but they still jump in the studio for hours on end to hone their craft. Follow DJ Khaled on Snapchat and you’ll see what I mean.
Take advantage of your runners high and get more work done. Execute the pretty plan you made. Use the knowledge you gained from reading to make better decisions. Follow up those affirmations with solid action.
Those 3.5 million readers and my “fuck your corporation” income didn’t materialize out of thin air. They’re the direct result of my routines — habits — coupled with hard work.
If there was no content then there would be nothing to read. Without something to read then I’d have no followers. Without followers then I wouldn’t be writing this.
It may seem strange that I put so much emphasis on a morning ritual. That’s because you’ve not invested the time to create one for yourself. Bite the bullet and adapt one to your needs.
Crush it in the morning. Crush it all day.