Updated: Nov 13, 2019
It does not matter where you are in your life right now. You can make a change. You must make the decision. You must do something that is unpredictable to the past you’ve been living. You must face the emotional void of uncertainty. You can transform your identity. You can become a new person. You can live at a much higher state. You can create and be and do at a much higher state. You can attract the most incredible people and experiences to you. But in order to do so, you must live by design rather than by default. You need to becoming increasingly focused on how you use your time. Make better choices during the morning so you can make better choices at night, and then make better choices at night so you can make better choices the next morning.
Optimizing your Brain in the Evening
According to Benjamin Franklin, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” A life-changing morning routine doesn’t just happen. It must be designed and planned for. If you simply take a few minutes to set up the environment, then the decision has already been made for you. For example, you can lay your clothes out the night before so you don’t have to think about what you’re going to wear. You can pull some dental floss out and lay it on the counter so you don’t have to make the decision whether to floss or not. Your evening routine is about taking the decisions out of your morning. You want to wake up already knowing exactly what you’re going to do. You want to wake up with the confidence of a plan so you don’t have to exhaust willpower to get yourself going.
Your brain is generally more analytical at night and more creative in the morning. Your evening is the perfect time to take 5 or so minutes planning out your next day. Your evening is also a really good time to reflect, relax, and recover. Here are the keys to a perfect evening routine to set your next day up for you success.
1. Write in your journal about what happened that day
There are several reasons and ways to use a journal. Your journal can be a place to record and account the experiences you’ve had and the things you’ve learned. The evening is a solid time to take 5–15 minutes writing down the events of your day. By doing this, you have a record and accounting of what you’ve done. This is an easy way to track key behaviors and spot themes in your life. Also during this evening journaling session, you can begin detailing your plans for the next day.
Another use of your journal is to write your goals and dreams and ambitions in vivid detail. Doing this in the evening is powerful because it triggers your subconscious mind to ruminate and think about it all night while you sleep.
2. Make brief plans for what you’ll do the next morning
“If you have more than three priorities, you don’t have any.” — Jim Collins
If you have a big to-do list the following day, you probably aren’t using your time in the best ways. In the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr. Stephen Covey explains the difference between activities that are urgent and those which are important. He actually created a useful matrix to explain how the most effective people use their time vs. how most people use their time. Below is a simplified matrix of how this work:
3. Put your phone on airplane mode
“Wherever you are, make sure you’re there.” — Dan Sullivan
An hour or so before you go to bed, put your phone on airplane mode. You don’t want to be alerted of anything just before going to bed. You want your evening time to be completely present, reflective, and imaginative.You don’t want your mind to be bounced around like a ping-pong ball with notifications, disruptions, and distractions. You want your mind to relax and recover. You want to be completely mindful of the people around you; and you also want to give your mind room to begin creating ideas for your next morning. When you wake up the next morning, keep your phone on airplane mode. In order to become a better person than you were the day before, you need to spend your morning visualizing — mentally and emotionally — the future you want to have. This is how you create the emotions you want to experience in the future here-and-now so you can then operate from higher-level emotions than you have in the past.
If you’ve set yourself up the evening before, then your chances of winning the next day are optimal.Design is far more powerful than willpower. You must be intentional. You need to set yourself up for success. The following are essential ingredients to a morning routine that allows you to live every day of your life in a peak and heightened state. While most of the world is living repetitive and predictable lives, you’ll be experiencing tons of growth regularly.
Here are the ingredients you want to start your day with. The exact behaviors and choices are up to you based on the specific goals you’re pursuing. But the principles remain the same.
Rise Early — ideally at or before 5 a.m. Super-hydrate — 20+ ounces of water immediately upon waking up. Connection — through prayer and meditation, you want to seek connection to yourself or a higher power Visualization and emotion — you want to imagine your ideal future and you want to generate the emotions you will experience in that future. You also want to generate and fully experience gratitude for future events before they happen in order to trigger your brain and body to anticipate these future events. You attract what you are. Novelty and nutrition — the two things your brain needs to be optimal and remain young.
(Novelty is all about newness. Your brain does not do well doing the same thing over and over and over. Instead, your brain loves making new connections and expanding. In order for you to make new connections, you need to do things that are new, every single day.)
( Nutrition is the quality of your environment — food, places, people, information, experiences. Your brain and soul need increasingly higher quality nutrition if you want to operate at higher levels.)
Creativity — you need to put first things first, which means you do your most creative and important work first thing in the morning. If you don’t, you’ll never know what true productivity means. Courage — every day, you need to do something different and outside your current comfort zone. Courage is the starting point of all growth and evolution. It takes courage to embrace the uncertainties of unpredictable outcomes and new behaviors.
“Watch your thoughts; for they become words. Watch your words; for they become actions. Watch your actions; for they become habits. Watch your habits; for they become character. Watch your character for it will become your destiny.” — Frank Outlaw
*Adapted from This Morning Routine will Make you a Millionaire by Benjamin P. Hardy