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How to build a truly excellent day, every day

Excellent days don’t happen by themselves.  They’re built.  We have to build them.  This is a process that requires intention, planning and foresight.


Step 1: Building Basic Supports

Do you wake up feeling terrible?  Ask yourself what you’ve been eating and drinking recently, if you’ve exercised, if you’ve set aside time for meditation, energy work and all the other things that set you up for a day of feeling great.  What you eat today, the time you take to exercise and meditate sets you up for a better tomorrow.


Step 2: Goals

Take a moment to sit down and write out how you spend an average 24 hour day.  Then review your priorities for that day.  Did your use of time accord with your priorities and your longer-term plans?  Did you do what you had planned to do?  How extensively did you plan your day, and how much of the plan translated into reality?  When and how did your day get sidetracked?

Most of us schedule our lives based on urgency rather than importance.  We scramble to get things done based on urgency.  Dilbert’s boss has three boxes on his desk: “Aging,” “Crisis” and “Moot.”  Many of us end up organising our lives that way.  We wait for everything to become a crisis, so that the important things are squeezed out by the urgent things.  Only by refusing to do this, by scheduling based on importance first and urgency second can we reverse the trend.

So, about those priorities- ask yourself what really gives your life meaning.  What really feeds your passion?  What will help you to grow or feed your desire to grow?  What will help you become who and what you want to be?  What feelings do you want to cultivate?  What relationships would you like to have?  What contributions do you want to make?  Like a personal mission statement, the answers to these questions become the criterion by which you assess your priorities.

Next, list your roles.  We each have a number of legitimate roles to fill in life, and we need to balance them for the sake of our own happiness and self-trust.  Personal development, by the way, is a perfectly legitimate role.  Try to keep the list to seven items or fewer to keep it manageable.

Write out your goals and priorities for the week.  What do you want to accomplish?  We all know the feeling of waking up and knowing that there are a thousand different nitty-gritty tasks competing for our attention.  It’s much better to plan out a set of goals we can actually accomplish, starting with the ones that are meaningful to us, than to live under siege.  Schedule in time for yourself and your family, and especially for quiet reflection and recharge.

Resolve to think about your ideal future when you get up in the morning, whenever you have a free moment during the day, and before you go to bed at night.  If you make the plan and then don’t think about it, you will never do anything to further it.


Step 3: Intention

What do you want your day to look like?  How do you want to feel?  Take a moment to visualise it.  If you have no intention for the day, if you have no idea of what feelings you want to create, how will you create a great day rather than a terrible one?


Step 4: Morning Routine

Your alarm clock goes off.  You smash the snooze button in a half-conscious outburst of anger against the soul-crushing machinery of modern life.  It goes off again.  This time, take a moment to create the feelings that you want for the day.  Don’t jump out of bed- your energy system doesn’t appreciate the morning shock treatment.  Instead, concentrate for a moment on proper abdominal breathing.  Keep your mind clear- it’ll help that your brain wants to go back to sleep anyway.  Once you’ve established a state of calm, get up slowly.  Stretch.  Take a moment for yourself, to think about what you want to accomplish that day, to meditate or pray, to take the dog for a walk in the morning air, to get in some outdoor exercise, whatever it may be.  It’s worth waking up a little earlier to establish this groundwork for the day.


Step 5: Establishing Creative Mode

Our usual, survival mode thought patterns are extremely dissonant and reactive, producing incoherent brain waves.  My knee hurts, my boss doesn’t like me, my roof is leaking, I need more money, I’m craving chocolate, the house smells like popcorn, and I wish I were doing something else than what I’m doing.  All different kinds of things from the past, present and future draw and scatter our attention.  Our senses and our imagination become the enemies of mental coherence.  The creative brain, on the other hand, has extremely coherent brainwaves.  We need to clear out these distractions to allow that creative coherence to come in.  Think about it- can you be in a state of joy and fulfillment and still have your attention scattered?

Take a creative goal that is meaningful to you, and resolve to do something to further it or learn more about it every day, and to participate in an activity related to it once a week.  Thinking + doing, repeated consistently, leads to a state of being.  Establish time to focus exclusively on that one thing, without distractions.  Let go of past and future and just be present.  Then go on to do some light physical tasks and let your subconscious chew on it.



There’s much more to each of these steps, of course, which we’ll get into later on.  But there is also more than enough here for you to take a terrible, awful, no-good, very bad day and set yourself up for a better tomorrow.


Next Steps

If you would like to get the inside track on exactly how this science of creating your day (and, by extension, your life) really works, you might like to join us this coming Thursday night, May 29, for a special teleclass on this very subject, where we’ll go much deeper into the “how to” details.

You can reserve your seat here (and you also need to reserve your seat in order to receive the replay):


~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Start Your Day RIGHT – “Killer” Morning Routines

“Anything one does every day is important and imposing and anywhere one lives is interesting and beautiful.”

 You probably don’t  even think about your morning routine anymore. But this oft-overlooked time of the day presents valuable opportunities to enrich your life! Having a morning routine that renews and relaxes you will not only put you in a better mood, it’ll also help make you more productive throughout the day. Establishing a thoughtful morning routine will consistently bring a sense of control to your life and make it easier to get out of bed! Think of routines as the invisible structure to your life – something that shapes your days in meaningful ways. We all have routines – why not make yours a more fulfilling one? 

Three Morning Habits to Break 

1) Pressing the Snooze Button.
Pressing the snooze button on your alarm trades a relaxing morning for a time-crunched dash. It puts you on a cycle of later nights and later mornings, but the sleep you get in the mornings is kept permanently in the lightest sleep stage – a good way to ensure that you start the day tired and irritable. According to Dr. Piers Steel, who you may remember from my review of his book The Procrastination Equation, snooze buttons are no less than “the devil’s device”! He goes on to say that snooze buttons are a “procrastination-enabling technology that lets you easily put off your original goal of waking up, in order to grab a few more minutes of low-quality slumber.” 

2) Cereal for Breakfast. Let’s face it – cereal has little nutritional value. Whether it contains bits of almond or it’s multigrain, it’s usually little more than highly processed filler laden with sodium and excess sugar. While it may give you energy in the morning, it sets you up to crash later. A delicious breakfast made with fresh foods may take a little planning and forethought, but you won’t regret it when you’re eating like a king!  I can attest that the fact that you don’t have to wake up at dawn to have time for a decent breakfast. Appreciate fine breakfast cuisine! You may even recover your ability to take time for small things and find pleasure in the mundane spread to other areas of your life.

3) Checking Your Email. I recommend avoiding the computer altogether in the morning until you get to work. You aren’t at your best, and any response you have to make won’t be very good anyway! It will only bring unnecessary stress. Prioritize – wake up properly now, and save it for when you have the time to read the emails thoroughly. There’s no need to bring the office home!

Three Morning Habits to Make

1) Take Time for Yourself. It’s the early morning, it’s before you’ve gotten tired out from a hard day at work – it’s the perfect hour for “me-time”! Schedule in some wishful thinking in the backyard with a cup of tea – you know you’re really living when you’ve wondered about the meaning of life before lunchtime. Poet William Blake said to “think in the morning, act at noon, and read in the evening and sleep at night.” OR try thinking at a much deeper level, and meditate.

2) Exercise. Exercising earlier in the day has so many additional benefits it’s shocking we don’t all do it! First of all, it jump-starts your metabolism for the day, vastly upping the chances of success for those trying to lose weight. It also establishes a habit – hopefully one you will keep! You’ll find that if you wake up and exercise at the same time every day, your endocrine system and circadian rhythms adjust and make it easier for you. Your body will prepare for exercise, and you might even be able to ditch your alarm clock! Also, some studies have shown that exercise increases mental acuity for four to six hours. If you work out in the morning, you can harness that mental quickness, instead of wasting it sleeping if you exercise in the evening. It doesn’t have to be too intensive – why not start with yoga (there are many online videos, such as the one I posted about recently, which you can do in the comfort of your own home) or a ten-minute walk? One of my best memories is taking a walk after a fresh snowfall in the morning.

3) Set Goals. Pick a goal to accomplish in the day ahead. Do this consistently and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much you can accomplish day-to-day. A goal gives you a focus for the day and a sense of achievement when you see it through. Never let a day slip by in which you don’t finish a task you’ve been meaning to get to, do a good deed or face a fear.

BONUS: Make things easier for your groggy self the night before! Pack a lunch if you need to, lay out your clothes, put your gym bag near the door. Do whatever you can to streamline the next morning. The little tasks will also help you wind down in preparation for sleep the night before.

Inspiration!  Hear other people’s morning routines…

“I wake up at 4:30 am, and immediately set out my Three Most Important Things to accomplish today. I fix lunches for myself and the kids, then read and eat breakfast. Then, I exercise or meditate. Finally, I shower, then wake my wife and the kids at 6:30.”
– Leo

“I’ve gotten to a point where my body wakes up on its own around seven. I get out of bed and put a yoga routine on my laptop, which goes until about seven thirty. I do that, then go downstairs and make myself breakfast – I’m a big fan of red river cereal, greek yogurt with fruit and peanut butter toast. I eat it outside on my deck when there’s good weather – maybe reading, maybe just listening to the birds. I go back upstairs at eight and dress for the day, put on my makeup and then I’m out to catch the bus for quarter past eight.”
– Kate

“I find that the morning is the perfect time for me to work on my hobbies. I love keeping illustrated journals – the ritual has been a life-changing experience for me. I sketch and paint for an hour or so right after waking up at six. By seven, I’m ready to start my day. I shower and dress, and then have breakfast and read the paper until eight. I keep up regular correspondence with some faraway friends, so I also answer letters in this time. In any case, I’m usually out the door by eight-thirty.”

“I get up around 5:30 and leave the house by a bit after 6am.  I bring my breakfast with me – its a really big protein shake with amazingly nutritious stuff in it.  Doesn’t sound like much time, I know, but I use my long walk to work in the fresh air of the early morning to do some stretching, some walking meditation, give thanks for everything and everybody in my life and then do my mindset work – thinking about my goals, my dreams and the great things that will happen today.  And you know what?  I feel fantastic!!”

– Dave

And Finally, Turn Up Your Speakers for Another Take on Your Morning Routine:

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger 🙂