Be honest with yourself: what is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Do you fumble around for your smartphone only then to hit the snooze button? Do you snooze, and snooze, and snooze until it’s finally time to either go to work or risk getting fired? Or do you “wake up and do something more than dream” and create a better you?
In my BYU-Hawaii days, my roommates constantly woke me up saying, “Hey man, wake up! Your alarm’s been going off for an hour already!”
This lack of discipline followed me into marriage. I thought I could fix it by setting more alarms spaced out at different times (don’t lie, you’ve tried this). But the end result was me hitting the snooze button even more, getting up only after snoozing the final alarm multiple times, always waking to a very upset wife. Eventually, she gave up and instead started waking me up herself.
The sad part is—not only would I snooze and sleep in, but right after getting up I would plop myself in front of my computer and waste my life on social media and other things that mean nothing to me today.
Perhaps when you groggily get up, plop yourself in front of your computer, and browse your Facebook news feed or watch YouTube videos or check out the latest NBA trade rumors or scour Pinterest for a new irresistible dessert recipe you’ll never get around to making… When you’ve done these things first thing in the morning, have you found a growing sense of resentment, bitterness, jealousy, or even self-doubt creep into your mind?
I finally came to a point where I knew I needed a change.
But the problem wasn’t the sleeping or worrying about others—these things are necessary and good at times. The problem is that I had a habit, day after day, of not growing—of not reaching the divine potential that we have as sons and daughters of God.
So is there a fix? What can you do to guarantee daily growth?
After reading numerous self-help books and listening to countless self-improvement podcasts and programs, I at long last discovered the power of morning routines. And after I started living one, everything seemed to change. I began to pray, read the scriptures, and exercise more, and I now walk out the door with more knowledge and wisdom than the day before.
The answer lies in that crucial first part of your day, in establishing a routine to help you learn and grow more than you do right now. A morning routine that guarantees development in all areas of your life, from gospel study to physical fitness to personal development, will change your life dramatically.
The routine I developed is published in “The Latter-day Morning” my new book, now available on Amazon.
The routine was made specifically for Latter-day Saints, combining the perfection of gospel principles with modern-day self-improvement practices.
You can be better than you are right now. All you need is discipline. The Latter-day Morning routine was made for you, to help you be a better you every day. It will show you how to start every day of your life with success and fulfillment. You can leave home each day knowing that you are already a better version of you than you were yesterday.
The Latter-day Morning Routine
This LDS-tailored routine is divided into 10 different parts, each of which is essential to leaving you feeling accomplished in what experts call the major areas of your life — spirituality, mind, body, relationships, and work.
In the following I’ll briefly outline the 10 parts to the Latter-day Morning routine (Part 1 will be more detailed as it is less concept-based than Parts 2 through 10).
Part 1: Wake-Up Formula
It may seem silly to include this in the mix, but simply put, you need to wake up. Once you hear the alarm go off, take a few deep breaths, and (try your best to) jump out of bed, all the while mentally rehearsing “I will wake up and change my life.”
Zombie your way to the restroom, and once you’ve finished your business, go to the bathroom to wash your face. Gargle (use some extra strength mouthwash if possible) and brush your teeth. Enter the kitchen and drink a large glass of water. Then go outside. Take a few deep breaths, appreciate the beauty of God’s creations, and then do some very light stretching.
Congratulations, you’re 100% awake.
Part 2: Prayer
I have found that if I pray right after getting out of bed, I’d end up falling asleep again. For that reason, prayer is the second step. Make your prayer heartfelt and sincere and ask for His support as you look to improve your life.
Part 3: Meditation
You don’t have to shave your head, wear loose-fitting robes, sit cross-legged underneath a waterfall, and hum chants in order to meditate! The most basic concept simply involves sitting or lying down, closing your eyes, and attempting to shut the world out and clear your mind.
Part 4: Journaling
Journaling allows you to leave a legacy for your posterity, but at the same time, it is also beneficial to you in the present. Use this time to write about your daily goals, achievements, and how to improve your day.
Part 5: Affirmation
Affirmations are power words and sentences that are regularly read or said out loud to help you focus and realize your goals. For your morning routine, think of a few of your main goals and write them down in “I will” form (example, “I will lose 10 pounds by June”). Read this list out loud every morning.
Part 6: Visualization
Use your imagination to see yourself hitting your goals. Using the above example, if you want to be healthy and lose 10 pounds, visualize yourself running or lifting weights, and also the final product.
Part 7: Spiritual Study
President Howard W. Hunter taught that “one who studies the scriptures every day accomplishes far more than one who devotes considerable time one day and then lets days go by before continuing.” So, don’t let a morning go by without feasting on the words of Christ and His servants.
Part 8: Success Study
In the Doctrine and Covenants, we read “Seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom, seek learning even by study and also by faith.” (D&C 109:7) Take some time every morning to learn something in regards to improving your career, relationships, health, finances, etc.
Part 9: Exercise
Less than 50% of Americans exercise regularly, and around 30% haven’t exercised within the last week. The biggest excuse is that there isn’t time. Incorporate daily exercise into your routine and reap the benefits of a healthy life.
Part 10: Nightly Preparation
Your morning routine actually begins at night and is heavily dependent on how you prepare yourself the night before. Take some time before bed to set up everything (journal, scriptures, books, extra clothes, set a timer for the air conditioner/heater, etc.) so that when you wake up you can dive right into your routine.
And that’s the routine! Do these things every morning and you’ll start seeing changes in your life.
People who have solid morning routines tend to be more successful in all areas of life—health, finance, relationships, and so forth. And Latter-day Saints who put God first and connect with Him first thing in the morning tend to receive additional blessings and have stronger testimonies. Those who have put this morning routine into practice have experienced the success, purpose, and happiness found only by those who have invested in personal, daily growth.
Can a Morning Routine Really Change My Life?
Yes, it can, but the benefits are dependent on what you put into it. Note that there are hundreds upon hundreds of people throughout the world who practice a morning routine of some sort or another. Ask any of these individuals and you are sure to hear about how their routine is the catalyst to the successes in their lives. In fact, please consider the following:
80,000-plus full-time missionaries wake up every morning at 6:30 a.m. and practice many of the principles outlined in the routine above. Each day they obediently fill their lives with the Spirit and personal growth.
Hundreds of CEOs and entrepreneurs swear on their morning routines and attribute much of their success to the clarity they obtain and growth they experience each morning. Successful people are simply those with successful habits.
And isn’t it safe to assume that certainly all, if not a great majority, of our general Church leaders diligently practice morning routines? Can you imagine President Monson sleeping in and checking Facebook right after getting up? It’s laughable and, of course, inconceivable.
This may seem like I’m overstepping my bounds, but I promise you that the Latter-day Morning will change your life. Through waking up earlier, approaching tasks with greater vision, creating a richer relationship with your Father in Heaven, and working on yourself before any other tasks, you will attain greater happiness, success, fulfillment, and abundance than you have ever experienced before.
If you implement this routine in your life, you will be endowed with power from on high, and you will develop the ability to reach your greatest potential.
It’s time we stopped snoozing our lives away. It’s time to stop focusing on everyone else’s lives and concerns first thing in the morning. It’s time we put Heavenly Father and personal progress first. It’s time to “wake up and do something more than dream.” It’s time to take charge of your day and your life.
Become all that your Heavenly Father wants you to become and live a life of consistent success.
Editor’s Note: If you want to learn more about the Latter-day Morning and how it can help you, check-out Mark’s book, “The Latter-day Morning: Create a Happier, More Successful, Spiritual Life Before Breakfast.”