How To Create A Powerful Morning Routine

You already have a morning routine, don’t you?

Think about it now.  Do you wake up to an alarm?  A phone call?  The noise around you?

What next?  Bathroom?  Shower? Brush your teeth?  Or maybe you head straight for the coffee pot?  Or maybe your toddler is crying?

Whatever it is, let it sink in now.  Because we’re going to do a little work on it and you need to be familiar with it.

When I hear people say they don’t have a morning routine, what I believe they are saying and meaning, is that they don’t have a planned out, conscious routine.  In other words, they don’t feel in control of it.

Take my friend Darren.  He once told me that he woke up when the truckers he was supervising phoned him every morning with questions or problems.  He would throw on his coveralls and be out the door talking on the phone the whole way.  That was his routine.

Because of my entrepreneurial journey, I found that I was forced to develop a better routine. Previously, when I had a regular 7-5 (!) job, I would wake up as late as possible to make it there on time.  I’d wake up to the alarm clock, maybe hit snooze a couple times, shower, dress, eat some cereal, and be out the door.  I suspect that this is true with many people who might be interested in this article.

There is a better way.

But first, let me explain the benefits to crafting your morning routine.

  1. You start the day feeling in control.  When you make a simple plan and you keep it, you reinforce your personal integrity and this feels great!  You get a real emotional and mental boost.
  2. You can build in relaxation and peacefulness.  No matter what the day is going to throw at you, no matter what you know you need to face, or what you don’t know, when you start from a place of peace you are much more able to cope and to have a higher, better perspective leading to better choices and outcomes.  Peace is difficult to find in our daily lifestyle, but you can create it in your day.
  3. You can get your priorities done.  When you incorporate certain priority activities into a morning routine, they end up getting accomplished more or less automatically.  These types of things can include: journaling, writing, exercise, meditation, reading, study, prayer, gratefulness, and more activities that might be considered hobbies like painting, gardening, modelling, etc. (just insert that thing you always thought you’d like to do, but don’t ever get to).
  4. You can connect with God.  How many times have you thought you should do better spiritually?  But when it comes to the end of the day, all that’s left is a fleeting prayer or thought that maybe tomorrow you can do it?  By building that into your routine, it’s not only accomplished, which is the lowest level accomplishment, but it literally changes your day.  By connecting to your source, your heavenly father, you start with purpose, with mission.
  5. You are crafting and creating your life.  Your life is made up of your days all strung together.  And whether you are living your dreams or grinding it out just making it through, each day is the next day of your life.  By building your morning routine, you build your life.

Pretty exciting, right?

It might be tempting for you to create some kind of incredible routine that has you getting up 3 hours earlier than normal, painting a masterpiece or completing your degree, but I’d advocate that you start slow.

This is a habit you’re creating.

So, you have think of it that way.  Creating a habit that is too big is doomed to failure, yet too small and it won’t be inspiring enough to accomplish it.  So here’s some advice from Charles Duhigg the author of “The Power of Habitbook-powerofhabitthat explains everything science knows about habits including habit formation and habit change.

For our purposes, as I’ve already pointed out you have a morning routine already and your goal is to simply change it into something you create rather than something that happens to you.  Duhigg explains that in most cases habits are altered and not eliminated.  A habit is a cycle of 3 steps: the cue, the routine, and the reward and the easiest thing to do is to insert a new routine into the same old cue and reward. So it depends on your situation… I can’t tell you what you need to change in order to get what you want, but I can tell you what you need to notice: the cues and the rewards.  The routine can be switched out, but noticing what starts the routine and why you do it is the key.

For example:

You normally set your alarm 20 minutes ahead of when you need to get up.  Why?  Because then you can hit snooze a couple of times before you get up and enjoy those last few minutes of semi-consciousness when you notice how cold the room is and how warm the bed is.  That’s the cue, routine, reward sequence right there… did you see it?  The alarm goes off: cue.  You hit snooze and get back into bed: routine.  The bed is so nice, warm and cozy and you can put off the day for a few more minutes: reward.

So, in order to change this habit, you need to insert a new routine.  The cue of the alarm stays, and the reward of comfort needs to stay as well (for now).  Some experimentation might help, but I’d recommend you try moving the comfort to the kitchen, the couch, a cozy housecoat or something else that will provide the comfort that you’re getting as a reward.  Next, you change the routine to accomplish that – for example, your cozy housecoat is right by your alarm, or you substitute a cozy couch and coffee with some inspirational reading.

Makes sense?  Now in the scenario I’ve listed you’ve got an additional 20 minutes to start your day with a powerful routine.  Make sure you insert something you’ll find rewarding into that routine – don’t make it all drudgery or you won’t want to do it.  Really want to read something inspirational?  Make sure your book is right where you want it before you go to bed.  Tweaking the reward is a powerful thing to do – once you’ve broken the existing habit.

My Morning Routine

Here’s a routine that grew out of several attempts and allowed me to accomplish a lot every morning before I began work.  I share it a little reluctantly because I know that it’s aggressive and lengthy.  I was needing to do a lot at this time and I needed a firm foundation.

I don’t want to discourage you from creating a shorter more compact routine which can be just as powerful.

Here goes:

6:30 – Wake up (15 minutes)
6:45 – Bible reading and Journaling (30 minutes)
7:15 – Workout (30 minutes)
7:45 – Prayer and Meditation (30 minutes)
8:15 – Shower (30 minutes)
8:45 – Breakfast (15 minutes)
9:00 – Off to Work

This is a lengthy 2 ½ hour plan that worked quite well but sometimes I needed to adjust to compress it down.  I changed to the following:

6:30 – Wake up (15 minutes)
6:45 – Workout (30 minutes)
7:15 – Bible reading, Journaling, and Meditation (30 minutes)
7:45 – Shower (15 minutes)
8:00 – Breakfast (15 minutes)
8:15 – Off to Work

Or, sometimes I’d move the exercise portion to the afternoons, so I could really compress it down again.

Important things to notice:

  1. I need help to keep to such a schedule.
    My morning routine in the 30/30 app

    There’s various ways to get that help, including accountability partners, but I found a simple way that works for me.  I downloaded an iphone app called 30/30 that allows you to put in a schedule.  All I need to do is to tap the start button and then it urges me forward.  For example, 15 minutes after waking up (and starting the routine) it buzzes and tells me that I’m onto the next thing.  I don’t linger, I play the game that I have to obey it and I move to the next thing.  Use what works for you, but I find that first thing in the morning my willpower is low, so using a little thing like this just gently nudges me forward to do what I already want to do.

  2. I prefer working out first because of 2 reasons:
    1. it gets me moving and exercise is proven to help you think better
    2. I need to cool down for at least 30 minutes before showering, so the more contemplative practices come after working out
  3. It’s flexible and it’s rigid.  Knowing yourself is important – you know when you’re “getting away with something” and it’s important to acknowledge it.  While I created a fairly strict schedule for myself, I also was free to change it if I needed something different.  At the same time, I do commit myself to my schedule until I change it.  It’s really important to me to try to keep to that schedule as part of the reward.

A More Powerful Tip

Here’s something that I just love about modern science and psychology.  They keep bumping up against God.  Whether it’s physics or neuroscience, it’s everywhere.  Yes, they’re figuring out lots of background information but as they dig deeper and deeper, more questions are running into God.

Here’s what I found in “The Power of Habit.”  The 3 step cycle of the habit, cue, routine, reward, is great and modifying it works, until there’s a crisis of some kind.  Then, people who have made real progress in changing bad habits like alcohol abuse, smoking, or other addictive behaviors can relapse into the old habit again.  The people who don’t relapse have been shown to have an x-factor that isn’t in that 3 step habit loop: Belief.  Duhigg spends an entire chapter explaining out the scientists studying this didn’t want to accept it but eventually had to because it explained so much more about people’s success.

Yes, you need to believe!  Some would call it faith.  Faith in God is what changes people, so I  ask you this:

Do you believe God wants you to change?  Are you convicted that you need a new morning routine?  If so, you have a real possibility for lasting change.

Without that, you’ll probably just go through the motions.  With that belief, that God is there for you and that you can do it with his help, you can change.

You CAN build your day, build your life, by connecting to him, controlling your day, and starting with peace and fulfillment.

Let me know your morning routine or what you want to craft in the comments below.

Related Articles


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Hi Dean, I enjoyed your new blog site, I completed your free meditation sessions a couple of months ago.
    As I mentioned in a e-mail to you at that time, it would be great if the meditation sessions you offer were also available for a longer period, say 30 mins. I believe you replied that you were looking into that posssibility.
    To that end, is their anything coming up in the near future? I think you have a great God thing going on here and
    will be signing up for a subscription when the longer sessions are available. Thanks for being a transparent guy
    with your testimony etc. I facilitate a weekly Sat. morning Bible Study for men at my church and its always re-
    freshing to talk to guys who aren’t afraid to give their testamonies and give God the glory for what He’s doing in theie lives. Thanks again.
    Jim Fannon
    Las Vegas, NV

    1. Thanks for the comments Jim! Yes, I will be providing more flexible times in the near future. I’ll let you know when it’s ready!

  2. Good Morning Dean . I love this program . I have done a lot of these meditation classes . But this is the best. I just want to wish you all the best . We as Christians needs something like this .

    I will be promoting it on my show . because it is GREAT .

  3. Firstly, Dean is a female 🙂
    Journal, prayer and meditation at 5:00am is great!! In NC, I had a partner and we prayed and walked at 5:00 am. This built a powerful prayer life. The park was another great place. Blessed people Everytime.
    God is Faithful!!