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Don't underestimate how important a morning routine is to success. (Photo credit: Unsplash)
Don’t underestimate the importance of a morning routine. (Photo credit: Unsplash)

What can you do to set yourself up for success every morning? It’s a tough question to answer, especially since there are so many productive practices just about anyone can implement into their morning routines. (Universally, however, it seems everyone agrees that the one bit of behavior to avoid is hitting snooze on your alarm clock.)

Do certain behaviors work as a precursor to the day’s overall success? I like to think so! There are certain actions I take every day that allow me to set my intentions and go above and beyond. If you’re looking to shake up your morning routine for the New Year, consider focusing on these behaviors.

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1. Practice an attitude of gratitude.

This is a practice I have been engaging in for years. I don’t even have to get out of bed to do it. I spend a few minutes every morning reflecting on the things I’m thankful for in my life. This practice excites me about the amazing things to come in the day ahead as well as the future.

What does it mean to practice an attitude of gratitude? The key is to pinpoint a few obvious things you are grateful for, like your family and home. Then, consider the less-than-obvious things. Think about little things that you might take for granted, like a handwritten thank you note from a client or a vegetable patch you’re slowly growing in your backyard. Understanding obvious and less than obvious blessings allows you to create an attitude of gratitude. And having an attitude of gratitude acts as a motivator to do the best you can each day.

2. Make your bed.

Wait, what? Isn’t this morning ritual better suited for kids than adults? Karin Sun, founder of Crane & Canopy and HBS best sleep practices expert, understands that while making your bed may sound like a chore, it’s actually a great habit that’s a precursor to success. According to Sun, several surveys have shown that habitual bedmakers are happier and more successful at home and work. 71% of individuals who routinely make their beds are even more likely to like their jobs, own a home, and exercise regularly.

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Further, if you habitually make your bed don’t be surprised if you start to feel more rested than your non-bedmaking counterparts.

“Making your bed every morning creates a domino effect,” Sun says. “It triggers you to build other healthy habits into your day. In addition to leading a more successful life, making your bed every morning has shown to boost levels of happiness.”

3. Eat a (healthy) breakfast.

Breakfast is still the most important meal of the day because it literally fuels our bodies for the entire day. Sleep and burnout recovery coach Bianca Riemer highly recommends that everyone eats a healthy breakfast before leaving the house.

Remember: despite what internet memes say otherwise, drinking a Starbucks latte shouldn’t be a substitute for a good meal. “A proper breakfast is necessary to reset your body’s circadian rhythms,” Riemer says. “The protein and fats reset your built-in 24 hour alarm clock. This ensures your body has sustained energy to keep going well until lunchtime.”

4. Prepare for the day ahead the night before.

This is a bit of advice that has always worked for me. Before I go to bed at night, I set out my outfit for the next morning. I also prep my lunch. The way I see it, if you do it the night before you don’t have to do it in the morning.

Consider all those mornings where you’ve ransacked your closet for upwards to 20 minutes trying to find something, anything to wear. What about the ones where you threw random items from the fridge into your lunch bag, promising yourself you’d make… something out of it for lunch at work? If you’ve ever had an off morning where none of this was done in advance, you’ll completely understand how much of a benefit it is to prep simple tasks the night before.

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Life coach Kelsea Koenreich agrees that prepping the night before is a great way to set your mornings up for success. To get started, Koenreich advises taking simple steps like laying out your training clothes or packing your workout bag for the next day.

After you’re done prepping the night before, set your alarm. Then, place the alarm across the room. This helps to keep from hitting snooze and allows you to begin the day peacefully. Journal or practice gratitude for the first 30 minutes after waking up. It’s quiet, but intentionally so — allowing individuals to start the day in a positive headspace. Better yet, there’s no need to worry about basic tasks because they have already been completed the night before.

“When we wake up scattered and rushed, that is how we live our day out,” Koenreich says. “This practice works because we wake up and spend time on ourselves. This helps us charge for the day and use the time focusing on our mental health to be more productive, happy, and patient.”

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com which provides online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, startup bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent services, DBAs, and trademark and copyright filing services. You can find MyCorporation on Twitter at @MyCorporation.

The post has been updated to clarify that fats and protein in the morning can keep one’s energy level sustained until lunch.

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