Successful people come from all walks of life, yet they all have one thing in common: where others see impenetrable barriers, they see challenges to embrace and obstacles to overcome.
Their confidence in the face of hardship is driven by their ability to let go of the negativity that holds so many otherwise sensible people back.
1. They exercise.
Richard Branson, Tim Cook, and Disney’s Bob Iger all wake up well before 6:00 a.m. to get their bodies moving. While their ungodly wake-up hours and exercise routines may seem crazy, research supports the extra effort. A study conducted at the Eastern Ontario Research Institute found that people who exercised twice a week for 10 weeks felt more competent socially, academically, and athletically. A second study conducted by researchers at the University of Bristol found that people who exercised daily had more energy and a more positive outlook, which are both critical for getting things done. Getting your body moving for as little as 10 minutes releases GABA, a neurotransmitter that makes your brain feel soothed and keeps you in control of your impulses. Exercising first thing in the morning ensures that you’ll have the time for it, and it improves your self-control and energy levels over the course of the entire day.
2. They disconnect.
Howard Schultz starts his day with a motivational e-mail to his employees, after this, he disconnects and dedicates his time to exercise and family. When you wake up and dive straight into e-mails, texts, and Facebook, you are far more likely to lose focus, and your morning succumbs to the wants and needs of other people. It’s much healthier to take those precious first moments of the day to do something relaxing, which sets a calm, positive tone for your day.
3. They eat a healthy breakfast.
Eating anything at all for breakfast puts you ahead of a lot of people. People who eat breakfast are less likely to be obese, they have more stable blood-sugar levels, and they tend to be less hungry over the course of the day. And these are just the statistics for people who eat any breakfast. When you eat a healthy breakfast, the doors to a productive day swing wide open. A healthy breakfast gives you energy, improves your short-term memory, and helps you to concentrate more intensely and for longer periods.
4. They practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness meditation has become increasingly popular among highly successful CEOs. Its growth in the business world is largely due to the huge dividends it pays in productivity and overall well-being. Research shows that mindfulness fights off stress by reversing the fight-or-flight response, improves your ability to focus, boosts creativity, and increases your emotional intelligence (EQ).
5. They set goals for the day.
Benjamin Franklin was obsessive about planning his days. Each morning, he would wake up at 4:00 a.m. and meticulously piece together a schedule. There’s a clear message to take from Franklin’s habit: prudent goal setting pays dividends. When you plan out your day as carefully as possible, your chances of successfully accomplishing your goals skyrocket. I like to set my daily goals after my mindfulness practice, because the added calm and clarity help me to set effective, specific goals.
6. They say no.
No is a powerful word, which will protect your precious mornings. When it’s time to say no, avoid phrases such as “I don’t think I can” or “I’m not certain.” Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments, and your morning time is an important commitment. Research conducted at the University of California in San Francisco showed that the more difficulty that you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression.
Bringing It All Together
While the above strategies are tried and true, you should build upon them with other activities that work for you.